Cosatu to march against retrenchments

COSATU Secretary General Bhekhi Ntshalintshali addressing the media at COSATU house following the special central executive meeting.
COSATU Secretary General Bhekhi Ntshalintshali addressing the media at COSATU house following the special central executive meeting.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi.

Cosatu had resolved to march in Rustenburg on Friday against the planned retrenchment of 13 000 mineworkers at Impala Platinum, the trade union federation announced on Tuesday.

This comes as Gold Fields also revealed on Tuesday that the mining company is preparing to lay off up to 1560 workers at its loss-making South Deep mine. “It is envisaged that about 1 100 permanent employees could potentially be impacted by the proposed restructuring‚” said Gold Fields. “In addition‚ approximately 460 contractors could also potentially be impacted.”

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told a media briefing in Johannesburg on Tuesday that they have also discussed reports that the government is also planning to retrench thousands of public servants.

“The National Treasury’s austerity measures that have resulted in government permanently closing existing public service vacancies and the recent talk of retrenching thousands of public servants is the last straw for the federation,” Ntshalintshali said. 

He said the special CEC [central executive committee] has instructed the national office bearers of Cosatu to request an urgent meeting with the ANC top six to inform them that the workers will not vote against their interests in next year's elections. "We view the plans to retrench workers as an act of ultimate betrayal, especially after the government's decision to increase VAT [value-added tax] after promising not to do so. This makes a mockery of the [tripartite] alliance [between the ANC, Cosatu and the SA Communist Party],” said Ntshalintshali.

Cosatu’s first deputy president Tyotyo James said they were giving the ANC an ultimatum to comply or face a revolt. “Workers in this country, workers under Cosatu in particular, voted for the ANC to protect their interests," James said.

"If the ANC will betray the interests of workers, workers will have to rethink their support of the ANC. Our vote for the ANC is not free, our vote for the ANC is for the ANC to continue to protect our interest.”

Ntshalintshali warned that the ruling party would pay the price if it failed “to balance the demands of capital and demands of labour”

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