Jobs and Poverty: Put on your marching boots!

Put on your marching boots! Your future is at stake!When workers first celebrated May Day more than 120 years ago, their cry was a simple one – they wanted the right to an eight-hour working day.

At May Day rallies across the country this year, workers heard a much more complex tune playing. We can see that the economy is buzzing in some areas – consumers are buying, builders are building. But Cosatu is sceptical of this growth spurt. It says it is not sustainable and does not create quality jobs.

And it says because the rand is getting stronger, the jobs for Numsa members that make things for export like cars and car parts and leather seats, become less secure. In this country statistics confirm what we already know – almost two out of every three Africans under the age of 30 cannot find a paying job. You, who are working, end up supporting your sons, daughters, your brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts that cannot find a job. No surprise that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer!

Since 2002, only 350 000 jobs earning over R1000 per month were created. But 600 000 new jobs each year are needed to reach government’s target of halving unemployment by 2014.

NAMAAnd now there is the NAMA threat! Nama stands for Non-Agricultural Market Access. It is an agreement that the World Trade Organisation [WTO] and developed countries want to impose on developing countries. The WTO is an organisation that sets out rules on world trade.

Under the Nama proposals, developed countries want countries like South Africa to slash their tariffs on imported cars and car components like brake pads and linings, by almost 50%. Tariffs are like a tax on foreign goods. They protect our local industries from foreign competitors. If we have to reduce the tariffs, they make foreign goods cheaper, consumers buy these goods, our local industries close down and our jobs go.

Nama also wants developing countries to open up their services, like education, health, water and transport to competition. This could mean that massive multinationals could then provide water to our homes and transport to work. Driven by profit, prices of these basic necessities will increase. Cosatu says the overall effects of Nama could be devastating. The manufacturing industry would disappear and developing countries would become poorer as their economies were reduced to providing raw materials for the rich developed countries.

CAMPAIGNCosatu’s campaign from May Day leading on to sectoral strikes and marches during May will campaign against Nama and demand the following:

the creation of decent, well-paid and secure jobs on a mass scale
young people and workers must have equal access to education and skills
every community, not just the suburbs, must get decent government services like education, health and policing
that government must fulfill its promises to provide public works on a massive scale so that unemployed people have a chance to contribute to their communities and earn a living.
an end to workplace racist and gender abuse and discrimination against people infected and affected by HIV
an end to unfair trading rules of the WTO.

Make sure you participate in the manufacturing sector lunch-time demonstrations on May 9 and the general strike on May 18. [Numsa’s Eskom members should join the lunchtime demonstrations for mining, construction and private services on May 16] Get details from your shop steward.

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The government announced a new initiative to attack the shortage of skills during March. The Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition [Jipsa]:

will bring government, business and labour together
will try and get Further Education and Training [FET] Colleges to work more closely with employers so that they can train workers for specific skills needed
has prioritised the training of artisans and technical skills amongst others
will recruit retired experts and mentors to train newly trained workers
will draw up a database of skills needed
where there are not enough skilled people available in this country, will recruit them from other countries
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Workers Unite for a Better Africa

The African Peer Review Mechanism [APRM] is an initiative of the African Union to encourage African countries in its words, “to adopt policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration.”

Already Ghana and Kenya have gone through the process. It is now South Africa’s turn. On May 19, the three South African labour federations Cosatu, Nactu and Fedusa met to consolidate their submission to the APRM.

Also present in this gathering was the Secretary General of Ecosoc, South Africa chapter, the civil society organ of the African Union. Ecosoc is composed of 12 sectors of civil society, labour, business, youth, women, disabled people etc. Randall Howard, the General Secretary of Satawu represents Cosatu in APRM’s National Governing Council.

“The South African labour movement must put its differences aside and speak with one voice if it has to build a better Africa”, said Howard in his opening remarks to the conference. The leadership of the three federations presented its submissions which were discussed in plenary by delegates from all the federations.

Provincial delegates expressed dissatisfaction at the level of co-ordination of labour submissions in the first round. “We as provinces have not been given proper guidance by the upper structures,” said one conference delegate. “We need to clarify the role of Ecosoc in relation to Nedlac, said another Cosatu delegate.”

Cosatu Deputy Regional Chairperson Eastern Cape told delegates that “we need to take this process very seriously as labour because we represent an important sector in our society, and as South African labour we should lead the rest of Africa by example”.

The second National Summit will take place on May 4-5. All three federations have agreed to make sure that the views of domestic and farm workers are considered.

If you want to participate directly, phone 1020 or look on the website

Tengo Tengela

HIV – AFRICA WILL DIE YOUNGMost of you don’t know about me,But those who know do not want to see me anymore.Others call me AidsYes, I am AidsAnd I have a place to stay in human bodies.I sometimes stay in a hotel called vaginal fluid,Or a motel called bloodI was born in a human bodyDuring years of unsafe sex andI multiplied like a bull’s hair.You may ask the rich or poor,You may ask sangomas and doctorsThey know me very wellAs well as young brother STDI attack hundreds of peopleEvery second in the world.However I see you do not listenSo I will attack you one by oneAfrica will die young especially those Who do not want to respect my uncle Condom.

A wise man will consider this messageBut a stupid one will ignore it.

Aron Mlambo-TlhabaneArmature WindersRustenburg