Cosatu stops the country!

Cosatu's demands:

1. The costs of the power-cuts must not be borne by the poorest in society.

2. Workers must not be retrenched as a result of the power-cuts

3. The electrification programme to poor households must not be compromised.

4. In the short and medium term: – the public sector to increase its generating capacity on an urgent basis including developing alternative energy sources- Reduce demand on an equitable basis and without compromising the core development goals.- Ensure that the cost of electricity for poor communities remains low.

5. Government to make a significant financial contribution into:- New investment in power-generation,- solar water-heating and compact fluorescent lighting, including through regulations to make energy-saving devices compulsory and subsidies to ensure that the poor are not prejudiced, and- Supporting the development of capacity to locally manufacture these energy-saving units.

6. Review the criteria for power-cuts/load-shedding:- Avoid disruptions at hospitals, emergency services and other essential services.

Favour employment-absorbing economic activities in relation to power-usage and- they should not damage the socio-economic goals of the society- review projects with a high power-usage and low employment density.

The smelters have been identified as a key area of concern.

7. Launch: an energy efficiency campaign that mobilises the whole of society to change mind-sets and the behaviour of consumers and industrial users. 

A labour campaign to save electricity and to train our shop stewards to be energy stewards to help mobilise workers around the joint programme.

8. Sign a joint pledge committing stakeholders to:- implement electricity savings,- educate our constituents on conservation – support a sustainable increase in public-sector power generation capacity, – find alternatives to retrenchments and job losses and – work in a disciplined, structured way together to address the crisis.

These demands will continue to be negotiated at Nedlac.

Cosatu's demands on food prices – what progressIn the last Numsa News we gave details of the demands that Cosatu was making around high food prices.

Since then Numsa second vice president, Cedric Gina, has been one of the Cosatu representatives involved in follow up meetings with various government departments to discuss these demands.

In a meeting with the director general (DG) of agriculture on August 13, the DG explained that government is reluctant to zero rate further foodstuffs.

For example if chicken were to be zero-rated, government would lose R4bn in taxes and 67% of those that would benefit would be the rich.

Instead, government is looking at taking the same R4bn and giving it to small-scale farmers to assist them to increase their production.

Other plans that cut across various departments include improving farmers' access to seed, more incentives for rural farmers, doubling the numbers of households that receive food aid, subsidizing farmers to buy farm equipment, speeding up the land and agrarian reform programme, expanding the school feeding programme to include nursery schools and providing social relief to households with income below R800 per month.

One of the problems is that some of these proposals require funding. Treasury has already told departments that if they want to implement this year then they will have to look at their current budgets to see how they can restructure them to accommodate these proposals.

It is only next year when they can include these ideas in their budget.Nevertheless Gina is frustrated at the slowness of the processes. "We lodged the section 77 on food prices with Nedlac four months ago. Things are still at a conceptual stage.

All departments must also first check with Treasury. If a proposal doesn’t sit well with them, then it doesn’t see the light of day. Government must improve its intergovernmental relations."

Companies reduce energy consumption

The sun will heat more than 300 solar panels on the top of Toyota SA's roof which will heat the water in the ablutions and save the company about R95 000 per month in energy costs Toyota SA

Industry is the single biggest user of electricity in South Africa. Just 33 000 factories consume 38% of all electricity in South Africa.

By contrast 7,5 million consumers use 17% of all electricity in this country. So at home when you turn off the lights that you don’t need, you will be doing a little bit to save electricity and to save jobs.

But at work is where the real electricity savings can be made.

That's why when one company invests R3,5m in renewable energy to reduce its energy consumption and carbon emissions it's good for us all.

Two years ago Toyota South Africa in Durban began to install solar panels to heat the water in the ablutions.

By the time it completes the third phase of the installation it will have more than 300 solar panels secured to its rooftop converting solar energy to heat its water.

According to Toyota it expects to save “about R95 000 per month on its energy costs when the project is completed in the next few months.

It will also reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by “1350 tons per annum”.What is your company doing to reduce its energy consumption?

“We will oppose any job losses that may directly or indirectly result from this crisis,” said Cosatu in its provincial and national marches on the energy crisis.

Across the country, workers came out in their thousands to support the call. Roads were empty as taxis heeded the call to 'stay at home'!

How the rolling mass action rolled on: From Durban

Down with the high prices of food, electricity and fuelDoris Nqetho

Thousands of protesters from civil society, Cosatu unions, the taxi industry including the alliance leadership marched in Durban to show their anger over electricity, food and fuel price hikes on July 9.

Wearing red, yellow, black-coloured t-shirts of the different affiliates, well-behaved protesters marched peacefully, singing revolutionary songs, blowing whistles and vuvuzelas and carrying artificial black and gold guns written “Umshini Wami”!All the shops were closed.

There was not a single taxi at the taxi ranks!On arrival at the City Hall, Sdumo Dlamini, Cosatu president, called the march, the “mother of all marches”. “

We will use our power to bring down the prices of food, electricity and fuel,” he said.

He thanked the Taxi Alliance for being part of the gathering saying, “we will continue working together up until the next elections.

Eugene Rhadebe of the Taxi Alliance said the gathering sent a clear message to government to “leave them alone with the high price of petrol. The day will come for us to choose a minister that will hear our cry.

He promised the audience that when the Zuma trial resumes on August 4, “taxis will take Zuma supporters free to Pietermaritzburg High Court!” “We will follow Cosatu wherever he goes," Rhadebe said.Willies Mchunu, provincial deputy chairperson of the ANC thanked the comrades for electing the new leadership in Polokwane and the provincial leadership recently.

He said the current leadership reflects the image of the alliance. He saluted Cosatu saying it will support Zuma and also saluted the Taxi Alliance for its support, saying it was the beginning of the long march to liberation.Blade Nzimande, general secretary of the SACP, said he was glad that the march was something that affects everybody – not just the road/street names!

He criticised the attacks on Malema, Vavi and Mantashe.He was proud of civilised workers who marched peacefully.

He called for the removal of the SABC Board and said we need someone to represent the working class. He called for the renationalisation of Sasol and regretted that Mondi workers were prevented from joining the march and proposed that there be a campaign in solidarity with them.

Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of Cosatu, said that load-shedding affected our economy. KZN has warned of 800 retrenchments and in mining there could be 32 000 retrenchments in all.

All this as a result of a 1998 memorandum that was kept secret. “We are calling on all who kept the memo secret to be retrenched not our members!â€

He told comrades to demonstrate their anger in a disciplined fashion that was never seen in the world. “Those incompetents at Eskom must go before we go! On August 4, we are saying 'NO' to the Kangaroo Court.”

And two weeks later in Rustenburg…

Cosatu marchers “disappointed” by ANC leadersPinky RamokokaAbout 30 – 40 000 workers took to the streets of Rustenburg on July 23 to protest against the high cost of living.

The main complaints were the ever rising food prices, fuel prices and high electricity tariffs.

Traffic was disrupted in the city and many Chinese shops were closed as Cosatu affiliated workers marched from the taxi rankto hand over a memorandum of demand to Eskom officials at the Rustenburg municipality offices.

There was not a single taxi at the Durban taxi rank

Cosatu refused to hand over the memorandum to 'junior' leaders of the ANC. Hundreds of angry marchers shouted at the leaders and told them the memorandum would not be handed over to them.

Cosatu provincial secretary, Solly Phetoe said, “Every time we invite minister of labour, Membathisi Mdladlana to our province to listen to workers he doesn't come.

Instead, he sends 'junior' leaders. Even Eskom sent the provincial manager to accept the memorandum. As workers we feel that the ANC doesn't take us seriously and is undermining us!”Workers were disappointed about the response they got from the ANC.

This clearly shows that the ANC in the province is not supportive of Cosatu. An urgent meeting will be called with provincial leadership to sort out the problem.

The march was led by the second deputy president of Cosatu, Violet Seboni, president of Num, Senzeni Zokwana and first vice president of Numsa, Ben Khoza.Marchers were urged to support the national march of August 6.


Numsa News