Why workers should vote ANC

Why the workers voice Cosatu say ANC is the workers choice for the 14 April 2004 elections

COSATU calls on workers to vote ANC because:

The ANC led the struggle for freedom and no other party can take half of the credit due to the ANC for bringing freedom and democracy in our land. Its leaders and members suffered severely for their efforts to achieve a united democratic non-racial and non-sexist South African. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison, Oliver Tambo spent over 30 years in exile, many were hanged and thousands shot by apartheid police in the streets. This unparalleled track record makes the ANC the only party we can entrust with our hard-won freedom.
Workers should never allow our country to go back to apartheid and Bantustans .
Cosatu is not just asking workers to vote for the ANC for sentimental reasons. Workers have achieved what they have achieved so far because the ANC historically is biased towards workers. Since 1994, it has helped to build a better life for our people. The box lists some of the biggest achievements workers have registered under the ANC government

The ANC has protected and promoted workers rights:

Our constitution gives workers the right to form and join unions, to strike and picket, to conclude union security agreements such as closed shop and agency shop, the right to collective bargaining and has blocked the inclusion of the lock-out in the constitution.

In addition to these constitutionally guaranteed rights the ANC has passed laws to protect and give rights to workers. These include the following laws:

The Labour Relations Act stops unfair dismissals and victimisation. It established the CCMA to settle disputes and to hear cases involving unfair dismissals. It regulates the right to strike and promotes centralised bargaining that helps workers to provide solidarity to other workers who have no strength to bargain and force settlements on employers.
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act gives all workers decent minimum conditions; including leave, reasonable hours of work and overtime pay. Under the BCEA, the Minister of Labour has set minimum wages for the workers that face the harshest conditions, including domestic and farm workers.
The National Skills Development Act makes all employers pay something for training. It supports recognition of workers’ existing skills gained through experience. It gives unions a voice in training plans in workplaces and industries.
The Employment Equity Act calls for the addressing of the inequalities resulting from years of discrimination of blacks and women in the workplace. It requires employers to do more to promote representation of black and women workers in more senior and better paying positions.
The health and safety laws have been consolidated and give workers many rights, including the right to form workplace committees to ensure health and safety, the right to compensation for job-related injuries and diseases, and the right to refuse doing dangerous work. The ANC government has also prohibited compulsory testing for diseases such as HIV and AIDS.

These laws provided workers with a comprehensive package that many workers all over the world would feel very lucky to have. Many of the political parties who are asking workers to vote for them opposed these laws protecting workers in parliament, and still want to weaken them. Like the employers, they complain that these laws give too much protection to workers.

The ANC has given our people a voice in the state through democratic institutions at all levels. The ANC government has set up consultative processes, including Nedlac that let poor people’s organisations like Cosatu influence policy decisions. It set up a framework for strong, participatory local government. It has also set up school and hospital boards and other structures to assist communities in overseeing their local institutions.

Social gains and rights

In addition, the ANC government has

Built a million houses that provide shelter to millions of people.
Improved access to education by building thousands of new classrooms and ensured that 4.5 million children receive free meals at school
Extended social grants to seven million more people, including both old-age and child care grants
Extended clean water to over 80% of all households, and electricity to over 70% of households
Ensured all our people have equitable access to healthcare, with free healthcare for mothers and children under six years old, and built hundreds of new clinics
Developed plans to roll out treatment of AIDS with anti-retroviral drugs, which can stop the disease from worsening for many years.

We know that progress has often been slower than we expected when we won the great victory against apartheid ten years ago. We could not overcome 300 years of colonialism and apartheid in a single decade. Only the ANC can make government do even more for transformation and, where needed, deal with problem areas. Cosatu remains unhappy with government’s record on jobs. Far too many jobs have been lost and job creation has been very slow. Moreover, casual, outsourced and informal jobs have replaced many permanent, quality jobs. Moreover, Cosatu still disagrees with some of the government economic policies. We have a campaign against privatisation of basic services. We believe government should have moved much faster to develop a comprehensive prevention and treatment strategy for HIV and Aids. Still, the gains of the past ten years far outweigh the setbacks. As an independent organisation, Cosatu can always disagree with the ANC government on some issues. Endorsing the ANC during the elections does not mean those disagreements suddenly disappear. But the areas where we agree far outweigh the areas of disagreements. In contrast, we can never agree on key principles with the other parties, which are fundamentally aligned to the bosses and the rich. Cosatu will continue to engage the ANC around key policy issues. But we can only reach our goals if we as workers make sure that the ANC scores a strong win in this election. We must take forward our programme toward 2015, which we agreed at our Congress last year. In it, we said Cosatu must make sure workers have a strong voice in elections, in ANC structures, and in all democratic institutions. It is critical that all our shop stewards, activists and members work for an ANC victory. We must campaign so that all workers and communities vote ANC. That is the only way we can protect workers’ rights and their political and social gains.

Every worker must vote ANC on April 14!

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