Reminder: Applications for Media Accreditation for International Worker’s Day Celebrations in Cape Town Are Now Open.

MEDIA ALERT:
APPLICATIONS FOR MEDIA ACCREDITATION FOR INTERNATIONAL WORKER’S DAY CELEBRATIONS IN CAPE TOWN ARE NOW OPEN.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in the Western will be hosting the National Worker’s Day Rally at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on May 1, 2024.

The May Day celebrations in 2024 will be held under the Theme: “Building a strong and united COSATU in mobilizing for the ANC electoral victory.”

This is a Central Executive Committee decision taken for the province to mobilize all communities and workers to celebrate International Worker’s Day and to reflect on how the country has progressed during the occasion of the 30th anniversary of a democratic government in South Africa, celebrating the provision of labour rights in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and all other labour standards from the International Labour Organization.

We are also mobilizing workers across the province to vote for the African National Congress in the Western Cape on May 29, 2024.

COSATU President Zingiswa Losi will deliver the keynote address. The African National Congress President Cyril Ramaphosa and the South African Communist Party General Secretary Solly Mapaila will deliver messages of support.

COSATU Western Cape, therefore, invites journalists and media houses to apply for accreditation to cover the national event at the Athlone Stadium.

The rally will be attended by traditional leaders, the South African National Civic Organization (SANCO), faith-based formations, youth formations, various departments, and all other stakeholders in the province.

Various artists will be performing as part of the celebrations, and we have invited surrounding communities to join in the festivities.

Media applications for accreditation may be submitted to Malvern de Bruyn, COSATU Western Cape Provincial Secretary, at malvern@cosatu.org.za, and carbon copy cleopatra@cosatu.org.za , siyabonga@cosatu.org.za with the following details:

Name:
Surname:
Identity Number:
Media House:
Contact number:
Email Address:

The application process will close on or before the 25th of April 2024.

All journalists and media houses will be informed on the venue and dates for the collection of media tags to cover the national rally in Cape Town.

All journalists must come with identification documents and/or Press Cards to finalize the accreditation process to cover the event.

Issued by COSATU Western Cape
For more information contact:
Malvern de Bruyn
COSATU Western Cape Provincial Secretary
Email Address: malvern@cosatu.org.za
Mobile: 060 977 9027
Tel: 021 448 0046

COSATU welcomes Volkswagen’s R4 billion investments in its Kariega Assembly Plant, in the Eastern Cape

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes Volkswagen (VW)’s announcement of a R4 billion investment in its Kariega Assembly Plant in the Eastern Cape. This will not only help add a new model to its production line and ready it to be VW’s sole global manufacturer of its very popular Polo model but also secure the jobs of 3 500 workers directly employed and support 50 000 indirect jobs.

This exciting investment is a sign that the African National Congress led government’s efforts with industry and labour through the Automotive Masterplan are bearing fruits. It will help to only not sustain and grow our automotive exports to North America and Europe but also position industry to take advantage of the pending African Continental Free Trade Area currently being negotiated.

It builds upon an existing R50 billion of investment commitments in the automotive sector, including the R3 billion Stellantis plant to be built in Coega and 10 new factories employing 3 300 workers and supplying Ford in the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone.

These collective efforts have seen a record number of vehicles, just under 400 000, exported in 2023.

COSATU is heartened that in spite of our many challenges as a nation, through the industrial master plans, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition; business and labour are making positive progress in removing the obstacles to growing the economy and we are beginning to see real green shoots.

Whilst we welcome these positive developments, we have much more to do. We dare not rest whilst we have a 41% unemployment rate and an economy in need of active support and facing many headwinds. We are confident that the kinds of social compacts we are crafting in the industrial master plans will lay the foundation for success.

Issued by COSATU
For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687

COSATU presented its submission on the Railway Safety Bill to Parliament

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) presented its submission on the Railway Safety Bill to the Parliament’s Select Committee on Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure today. This is a long overdue and important Bill that seeks to ensure railway workers, commuters and freight can travel and arrive at their destinations safely.

COSATU supports the progressive objectives and provisions of the Bill that seek to overhaul our often-weak health and safety provisions governing our passenger and freight railway network. Key clauses include empowering the Railway Safety Regulator and its inspectors to inspect, seize documents and other relevant evidence, and to suspend railway operations where needed to protect lives and cargo.

The Federation welcomes provisions to provide for worker representation on the Railway Safety Regulator’s Board. It is workers who run our railway network. Their inclusion on the Board will enable them to raise serious concerns and challenges immediately, allow them to table practical interventions and solutions, and help ensure the collective buy in of workers of the Regulator’s railway safety plans.

Whilst welcoming the objectives of this critical Bill, COSATU believes certain clauses need to be strengthened by Parliament, including provisions:

  • Limiting the Railway Safety Regulator’s inspections to between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. This defies logic when railway operations operate beyond office hours. Limiting the powers to inspect whenever needed will weaken the ability of inspectors to enforce railway safety standards and enable the culprits to hide incriminating evidence.
  • The silence of the Bill on the respective responsibilities for ensuring the safety and security or railway crossings, sidings and lines. The continuous shifting of responsibility for this between Metro Rail and Transnet, Provincial and Local Government has resulted in the tragic deaths of children, pedestrians and commuters crossing unguarded crossings, sidings and lines.
  • The silence of the Bill on measures to respond to the devastating stripping of thousands of kilometres of cables that is crippling Transnet and Metro Rail. This requires urgent and decisive action by government, including the welcome current banning of scrap copper and steal exports, the regulation of scrap metal dealers and the shutting down of dealers fuelling cable theft, the immediate deployment of the South African National Defence Force to secure the railway network, the revival of the South African Police Service Railway Unit and the development of alternatives to copper cables.

Whilst COSATU welcomes the progressive objectives of the Bill, its omissions need to be addressed if we are to ensure the safety of railway workers, commuters and freight. We cannot afford a business as usual approach when the lives and jobs of workers hang in the balance.

Issued by COSATU
For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687

COSATU commends Old Mutual and Santam’s commitment to implement a R15 000 monthly minimum wage

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) commends Old Mutual and Santam’s commitment to implement a R15 000 monthly minimum wage. We welcome Old Mutual’s announcement of its intention to implement four months fully paid parental leave for new parents, to disclose the wage gap between their highest and lowest earners, and to exceed the Employment Equity Act’s sectoral targets.

These progressive victories will benefit thousands of workers at Old Mutual and Sanlam and help spur similar initiatives in a financial sector that is often better for being allergic to transformation and improving the conditions of their employees. They are the product of COSATU’s affiliate, the South African Services and Banking Organisation (SASBO)’s proposals and tireless campaigns in these companies and the financial and banking sector. The Federation congratulates SASBSO’s for its dedicated efforts to service members and workers at large.

COSATU is particularly pleased with these developments as they are also the direct result of its relentless engagements in the Alliance, at Nedlac and Parliament to amend various laws to encourage and compel businesses to adopt more progressive policies, and name and shame those who prefer to treat workers like glorified slaves.

One of the objectives in setting a national minimum wage was to push wages for the most exploited workers from the bottom up and encourage employers to compete for workers by offering better wages.

The Companies Amendment Bills recently passed by Parliament require listed and state-owned companies to disclose their wage gaps between the highest and lowest income earners to help address our still prevalent apartheid wage gaps and the obscene packages paid to many captains of industry.

The Basic Conditions of Employment and Unemployment Insurance Acts provide a minimum platform for maternity, parental and adoption leave. We encourage employers in both the public and private sectors to exceed these minimum conditions as new parents need time to bond and care for their babies and should not be financially penalised by receiving less than their normal full salaries.

Parliament amended the Employment Equity Act in 2023 to nudge laggard sectors, like the financial sector, to move with greater speed to ensure their workplaces embrace South Africa’s full diversity and economic potential.

Laws are put in place to set minimum standards that employers and other parties can be held accountable to. They also seek to change society and workplaces’ culture, to embrace progress and deliver that better life for all.

When these laws were drafted and processed through Nedlac and Parliament, COSATU was relentlessly attacked by all sorts of armchair cranks and ideological lunatics for being a lone voice of sanity and progressive thought in championing these critical interventions in society. Today not only are millions of workers are benefiting, but we are also step by step beginning to change the fabric of the workplace and society for the better.

Whilst we appreciate these victories, more must be done to deal with those employers who choose to defy the law. This includes more labour inspectors and workplace inspections, educating and training workers to understand their rights, ensuring all workers are unionised, and naming and shaming those who break the law.

These hard won victories cast in law were possible because of COSATU’s Alliance with the African National Congress (ANC). These and similar victories which improve the working conditions and lives of workers and their families are precisely why COSATU is calling on all workers and working-class communities to come out in their numbers on May 29th and vote for the ANC.

These victories need to be defended, retained and enhanced. We cannot afford to be complacent in securing these victories for future generations when countless right-wing parties have promised their funders to gut our progressive labour laws and strip workers of their hard-won rights, protections and benefits.

Issued by COSATU
For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687

SA to push for financial support in internationally binding plastic pollution treaty

Source: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/author/onke-ngcuka/
Courtesy of Daily Maverick

Forestries, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy and plastic industry stakeholders met before negotiations in Canada next week to take forward a legally binding draft treaty on plastic pollution.

Almost two years after presidents and environment ministers met in Nairobi, Kenya, and adopted a draft treaty to end plastic pollution, leaders will gather in Canada next week to develop the treaty.

South Africa hopes the final treaty will help to end plastic pollution while making provisions for protecting human health and the environment from plastic leakage.

The country’s position was shared at a stakeholder engagement meeting last week that included Plastics South Africa, the International Alliance of Waste Pickers, the South African Local Government Association (Salga) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

The engagement preceded the fourth Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4) in Ottawa, Canada from April 23-29.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Plastic, plastic everywhere – decades of talking moves closer to global action

SA’s negotiating position

Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbra Creecy said South Africa was in strong support of the treaty being concluded by the end of 2024 as promised by global leaders.

“South Africa remains resolute in supporting global efforts to end plastic pollution. Plastic pollution affects the terrestrial and aquatic, including marine environments. South Africa boasts a coastline that covers over 3,000 kilometres, and it is in the interest of environmental sustainability that South Africa is actively engaged in the INC process.

“The recognition of the threat plastic pollution poses to human health, ecosystem functioning and the marine environment keeps the South African members of the INC hard at work.

“Given the versatility of the plastic product, the lifecycle approach requires a multistakeholder focus, and thus the government is considering views of interested and affected parties in the negotiations of this internationally legally binding instrument on curbing plastics pollution,” Creecy said.

South Africa is considered to have the highest plastic waste generation rate in Africa, producing 28kg of waste a year per person, compared to 16kg a year per person for the rest of the continent.

In addition, the country contributes about 35% of the plastic pollution leaking into the marine environment in southern and east Africa, an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) study found.

While South Africa struggles with plastic pollution because of excess plastic that isn’t recyclable and waste management services that don’t extend to communities, a recent study by Ipsos found that nearly nine out of 10 South Africans support the inclusion of a global ban on single-use plastic in the treaty. Nine out of 10 South Africans also believe that there should be a ban on the hazardous chemicals used in plastic.

Stakeholders

More recently, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) and WWF South Africa initiated a five-year project to support a circular plastic packing system to limit plastic waste pollution from the food and beverage industry that ends up in landfills.

Creecy said the plastic industry had to grow sustainably to ensure that the environment and human health were not harmed.

During its presentation, Plastics SA said the treaty should focus on ending plastic pollution, not production as this would limit plastic supply and increase the cost of production, which would hit consumers.

Salga said that at the current rate of waste collection expansion, it would take about 50 years before SA municipalities could collect 80% of household waste. At present, the collection rate is 66.3%.

The local government association said it hoped the treaty would help to improve waste services by addressing funding and infrastructure challenges. Salga said SA municipalities spent an average of about R100-million a year on solid waste management.

The International Alliance of Waste Pickers, which represents 460,000 organised waste pickers from 34 countries, said it was important that the final text includes “waste pickers”, “workers in informal and cooperative settings” and a “just transition”.

Representatives from civil society said, “All measures taken in regulating the full life-cycle of plastics must be seen through a just transition lens for all workers affected by the planned transformative changes in the global plastics economy.

“However, recognition and priority must be given to the important role waste pickers and waste workers play in cooperative settings who divert more than 60% of waste from landfills. The treaty text must include a definition of just transition in the context of plastics that reflects the priorities of all affected communities, groups, and territories.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Shameless stalling tactics’: Talks on new global plastic treaty ‘held hostage’ by petrochemical industry

Existing text

Deputy director-general of the DFFE Mamogala Musekene said South Africa recommended a dedicated financing aspect to the treaty, with a push to have the fund operational shortly after the treaty was concluded.

revised draft text of the instrument from INC-3 was published earlier this year that included sections that sought to address the objectives of the legal instrument, monitoring mechanisms, a just transition in the plastic industry, plastic chemicals of concern, extended producer responsibility (EPR) and a financing instrument, among other aspects.

Daily Maverick understands that some member states have reservations about aspects of the draft treaty that deal with the intersection of financial interests and environmental imperatives.

A global EPR system poses challenges, particularly around implementation, while chemicals in plastic are also a major concern. Some of these challenges may be addressed in the upcoming instrument or be addressed through other existing treaties on plastic waste and chemicals. DM

COSATU welcomes excellent progress at Parliament on the Pension Fund Amendment Bill (Two Pot Pension Reforms)

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes excellent progress at Parliament on the Pension Fund Amendment Bill, which is one of two critical amendment bills that will enable the long sought Two Pot Pension Reforms to take place on 1 September 2024. COSATU made its submission on the Bill to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP)’ Select Committee: Finance today.

The other Bill, the Revenue Laws Amendment Bill, has been adopted by both Houses of Parliament.
The Federation has been engaging on the Two Pot Pension Reforms with Treasury and Parliament since May 2020. We are pleased that whilst we may not have achieved everything we proposed, that not only have we managed to find consensus on the key matters but legislation providing for the reforms is before Parliament and there is agreement for implementation to happen on 1 September 2024.

We welcome the continuous support we have received from Members of Parliament, in particular from the African National Congress and the Chairpersons of the Parliamentary Committees on Finance.

Workers are highly indebted due to slow economic growth, the rising costs of living and having to support relatives in a society battling a 41% unemployment rate. The current pension laws are excessively inflexible only allowing workers access to their pension funds upon retirement, losing their job or resignation. Consequently, many workers opt to resign to cash out their entire pension funds leaving them unemployed and with no savings left.

The Two Pot Reforms provide a progressive compromise and fair balance where workers will have access to a portion of their pension funds whilst remaining employed. This will allow workers to access 10% up to R30 000 of their existing savings when the law comes into effect on 1 September 2024 and from then on once a year, access to a third of future savings. Workers will retain access to existing savings. These will enable workers to remain employed, receive the equivalent of a thirteenth cheque on 1 September and once a year going forward and have more savings when they retire.

COSATU welcomes amendments made to the Bill by the National Assembly to ensure the Government Employees, Transnet, Post and Telecommunications Pension Funds are included in the Two Pot Reforms and their members enjoy the same access. This was critical to ensure all workers are included in the Two Pot Reforms.

The Federation notes proposed amendments by industry to the Bill, that these are fair and where needed and possible, should be incorporated. What is most important is that all amendments to the Bill be fast tracked to ensure the NCOP and the National Assembly can adopt the Bill before rising for the May elections. This is critical to enable the President to sign, Treasury to promulgate, SARS to adjust its tax systems and the pension funds to amend their rules and put in place the necessary education and administrative support for workers seeking this relief.

We are confident we are on track and all deadlines will be met to ensure implementation on 1 September 2024. Workers have been waiting for this relief since 2020. We dare not disappoint them.

Issued by COSATU
For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687