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Cosatu unhappy after being excluded from talks on finding solutions for SA's economic problems

'We won't be able to fix the economy unless all social partners are involved'

Image: ESA ALEXANDER

Trade union federation Cosatu is accusing President Cyril Ramaphosa of snubbing organised labour in talks on finding solutions for the country's economic challenges.

A top level government delegation that included Ramaphosa, electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe and police minister Bheki Cele and other state officials on Tuesday met with business leaders.

The meeting comes after the government and business on June 7 announced the formation of the partnership on three key focal areas including transport and logistics, and crime and corruption, and energy crisis, in order to grow the economy and restore investor and public confidence.

The Tuesday meeting between the government and business – which was represented by Business Unity SA (Busa) and Business for SA – delved into progress that has since been made.

Cosatu acting spokesperson Mathew Parks said: “Organised labour has not been included in the engagements between the government and business on energy and freight logistics.

“Cosatu has raised its deep unhappiness about this with the presidency. Not only does it mean workers are excluded from an important discussion about them, their jobs and the economy but it also undermines National Economic Development and Labour Council and the president’s commitment to a social compact,” said Parks.

He said government meetings which don’t involve organised labour fuelled workers fears of privatisation and job losses.

“We won't be able to fix Eskom, Transnet or the economy unless all social partners are involved,” said Parks.

Ramaphosa's spokesperson Vincent Magwenya on Wednesday told Sowetan that the president has had meetings with labour on both the energy and logistics issues.

"The meeting [on Tuesday] was a follow up after government and business workstreams were set up. Teams were reporting on progress to date. It wasn't just a talk shop," said Magwenya.

Asked why Black Business Council (BBC) was not part of the meeting, Magwenya said: "Businesses have contributed resources to the workstreams. As I stated, it was not a government talk shop with business federations. It was to review actual work that is being done at workstream level, where business has invested resources towards this work."

BBC chief executive Kganki Matabane said the council would be meeting with Ramaphosa on its own towards the end of this month.

Speaking after the meeting, Ramaphosa said: “This collaboration is built on the recognition that we need to take bold and urgent action to confront these challenges and place South Africa on a trajectory of growth and job creation.

"It is built on a shared vision for our country – as a thriving constitutional democracy in which the rule of law is sacrosanct, as a dynamic and fast-growing economy, and as a society in which no person is left behind. We welcome the emphasis on strategic partnerships and focused interventions, which has enabled us to make significant progress in a short space of time," he said. 

Cas Coovadia, the chief executive Busa, stressed on the importance of adhering to established timeframes and achieving deliverables for each priority area.

“The focus is on achieving agreed targets and improving performance in key action areas. If we neglect or delay critical decisions needed to accelerate our much-needed growth ambitions to build the economy and tackle poverty, inequality and unemployment, there will be many more years of challenge, frustration and despondency. We need to act, together, with immediate urgency," said Coovadia.



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