National Bargaining Conference: Two labours share concerns

From the speeches of Cosatu President, Zwelinzima Vavi, and Labour Minister, Membathisi Mdladlana, one could feel the healthy relationship between the two. Vavi congratulated Numsa on its 15 years of struggle.

"The many great victories you have won have not only brought real benefits to your own members but have inspired countless other workers and unions to follow your lead.

"You have shown them that solidarity, determination and militancy combined with sophistication and astute political tactics and strategies can defeat the most powerful enemy. Your victories have been victories for the entire working class," he told the NBC delegates.

Moving onto the current challenges he warned delegates that, "if workers are weak, we cannot bargain."

And now with close to 8 million people unemployed, "we have to fight continuously because of those job losses." Employers are using this situation to bring in casual and illegal workers to weaken workers' militancy.

With South Africa having the third highest inequality levels in the world, unions must change this by extending bargaining to cover the informal sector and closing the apartheid wage gap.

Organisers must be strategic when they bargain. Minister of Labour, Membathisi Mdladlana, reminded delegates of the "tremendous task" ahead of them in "balancing their short term interests as workers and the broader strategic goals of the labour movement."

He talked of skills development and the drive to create jobs in a labour market that continues to shed jobs where there are already so many unemployed.

He was also worried about the effect of globalisation and technology on job losses. He appealed to delegates to do more to skill people and shared his concerns over the increased use of labour brokers by farmers and other employers and described it as a "strategic attack on bargaining."

It just shows that the pain that the labour movement feels is also felt by the labour department.

And you as an individual – how do you feel?


Numsa News