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Press Statements

Last updated: 14 June 2008

FAWU Statement On Decisions Taken By The Bargaining Conference

24 June 2008

Johannesburg, Cedar Park Hotel

The Food and Allied Workers` Union [FAWU] has taken a range of decisions at its national bargaining conference held on the 23rd and 24th June 2008 in Johannesburg. Some of the decisions were initially processed in a policy discussions session held on the 20th and 21st. Both gatherings, the policy session and the bargaining conference were addressed by technical people from non-governmental organizations and government departments as well as political leadership from COSATU, SACP and the ANC.

1) On Food Prices

FAWU reiterates its call for increased government intervention to deal with the crisis of skyrocketing food prices. To this effect, we repeat a call for the nationalization of companies located in the value-chain of bread, maize-meal and milk products and for the creation of state owned enterprises in the production and supply chain of selected basic food.

In addition, we confirm our call on the setting up of Food Price Regulator to monitor and control prices of basic food and for the amendment of the Competition Act so as to hold individuals involved in price-fixing personally liable, such that directors, particularly executive, of price fixing companies are banned from serving as directors anywhere in the republic.

2) On Land Reform

We support efforts underway in strengthening the role of government in land redistribution, including expropriation of land or farms, in order to speed up land reform and to support beneficiaries of this policy. We support provisions to take out courts from adjudicating on whether compensation, following expropriation, is fair or not as this would short circuit the lengthy and protracted legal or litigation process.

Clearly, there has been a market failure in land redistribution as exhibited by the fact that less than 4% was redistributed, a far cry from the targeted 30% of agricultural land earmarked by 2014.

3) On the Plight of Farm Dwellers and Vulnerable Workers

FAWU wish to stress the need for a national dialogue, through the convening of a national summit of the plight of farm dwellers, in order to arrive at agreements needed to address their socio-economic situation. This is in view of the fact that `the 1994` or liberation has not arrived on farms. Essentially, farm dwellers still lead a life of slaves, with terrible working conditions and horrible living conditions, with farms serving as concentration camps.

The situation is worsened with the super-exploitation of refugees, economic or political, and immigrants, documented or illegal, particularly from Zimbabwe by farm owners. It is in this context that we call for the total isolation of Mugabe, the generals and top brass of Zanu PF responsible for atrocities and other crimes against humanity. Without the end of dictatorship and mass human rights violations in Zimbabwe and without the return to democracy and the rule of law in that country, we would continue to see mass exodus of Zimbabwen citizens to South Africa.

In addition, we call for the arrest of South African farm owners who are employing illegal immigrants and refugees and for the investigations, arrest and prosecution of those members of police officers involved in extortion and other corrupt activities relating to their handling of immigrants.

We wish to reaffirm our commitment to COSATU resolution against xenophobia. In the light of recent attacks we are spreading the message against xenophobia across all our structures.

We call for the immediate implementation of a sectoral determination for the sea-going fishing workers and for the ratification of the 2007 International Labour Organzation`s Convention on the Work in the Fishing Sector by our government by the end of August 2008.

We further call for the speedy implementation of the forestry sectoral determination to improve the working conditions of workers in this sector.

4) On Retirement Industry

Noting the challenges, ranging from bulking and other undue client exploitation as reported I the media, endemic in the industry, FAWU calls for an independent industry-wide investigation, preferably in a form of judicial commission of enquiry, and for punishment of those found guilty of breaking the law.

We support a concept of sector Provident Fund in order to get small funds consolidated into much bigger sector based funds. This is in part to ensure sustainability of such funds and improved value for low-income earners through the concept of solidarity.

We further call on employers to increase their contribution towards workers retirement from an average of 10% (of which 4% goes to insured benefits) to 12%

5) On BEE Transactions and Employee Ownership

We reject the so-called advice of the Harvard Group of experts that ownership equity should not be part of BEE transactions. We call on government to reject this piece of irresponsible advice with contempt.

We reject any BEE transaction on ownership equity that excludes employees as participants and beneficiaries. In addition, we reject individually based and productivity incentive type employee share schemes in favour of collectively owned and structured schemes controlled by employee elected Board of Trustees. In fact, we call on any such transaction to allocate majority of the value of the transaction/share stake to employees.

To this end, we condemn the greedy attempts by a Marcel Golding, the Chief Executive of E-TV, to use heavy-handed means in liquidating employee share stake of BEE equity at KWV limited

In addition, we call on companies to arrange financing for these deals and to serve as securities. However, workers should not be held responsible should the loans not be repaid by future dividends ad/or growth in the value of shares.

We call on the fishing industry to speedily start a process of industry BEE Charter negotiations by the beginning of October 2008.

If these processes or principles are not followed, FAWU would declare dispute of interest and invoked industrial actions to support this demand.

6) On HIV/AIDS

We call on companies to carry the full costs of workers` HIV/AIDS related medical expenses, either because these are not covered by workers` medical aid schemes or that workers do not belong to schemes at all. To this end, we call on companies to engage with FAWU on matters of HIV/Aids prevention, treatment and care policy agreements.

7) On Wage Settlements

Noting the widening income inequalities, stubborn unemployment rate and persisting poverty levels in our country, FAWU would not settle wages at below 11% in the remaining collective bargaining rounds with employers unless there are very compelling reasons. The blind application of hiking interest rate, which makes it a blunt instrument to control an externally cost pushed inflation, and the skyrocketing food prices, for which many of our members spend up to 50% or more of their incomes, are making the situation worse for the poor and working people of our country thereby reducing their quality of life.

To this end, we call for the review of inflation targeting as a monetary policy perspective or at least for the review of this lower and narrower target range.

We further reject, with contempt, the suggestions of some analysts or commentators that T Mboweni, Central Bank Governor, and T Manuel, Minister of Finance should not be replaced or should be retained after national general elections as if these individuals are indispensable.

The national bargaining conference has adopted the following declaration.

DECLARATION ADOPTED AT THE FAWU NATIONAL CONFERENCE

1. We, the 117 delegates gathered in this 2008 national bargaining conference and representing our 114 000 members, are adopting this declaration as a commitment to the outcomes and resolutions of this conference.

2. We hereby reaffirm our tradition of being a militant and fighting progressive trade union organization in pursuit of collective bargaining objectives, socio-economic goals and political interests.

3. We confirm that we have applied our minds, after robust debates and constructive discussions, in taking these decisions and passing resolutions.

4. To this end, we declare to implement the following resolutions and pursue a campaign program towards achieving our stipulated goals and objectives

4.1 Collective Bargaining

  • We are going to campaign for centralized bargaining arrangements in a form of Bargaining Councils, starting with beverages, and milling and baking sectors.
  • We would be waging battles to ensure that a commission of enquiry is instituted on uncovering unlawful activities, such as bulking, and on the prosecution of those found responsible. In addition, we call for all funds to pay a death benefit of five times annual salary and for employers to increase their contributions towards workers retirement to a minimum of 8% and a minimum of 4% for insured benefits.
  • We support the idea of setting up of sector based provident fund. We are not supportive of a national social security fund.
  • We would not hesitate to engage in industrial actions in supporting our demand for a minimum 75% employer contribution towards workers medical aid schemes.
  • We would pursue our demands for a minimum four weeks severance pay for every completed year of service.
  • We will campaign for the employers to make a minimum of 75% contribution towards workers` medical aid monthly premiums.
  • We would strive, by a way of strike actions if necessary, to achieve a minimum of one month annual leave and bonus, shift allowances at a minimum of 10%, 20% and 30% for morning, afternoon and night shifts respectively.
  • We have decided to mount a campaign to ensure that the sectoral determination for the sea-going fishing workers as well as for government to ratify the 2007 convention on fishing sector.
  • We will insist, and if need be we will campaign, that the 2008 sectoral determination for farm and forest workers be taken to a minimum wage to R1 500.
  • We would not accept a wage settlement below 11%

4.2 Socio-economic Engagement

  • We would ensure that we maximize our participation in COSATU led campaign against the skyrocketing food prices.
  • We would campaign for employers to engage with us on arriving at HIV/Aids policies for them carry the full costs towards comprehensive prevention, treatment and care.
  • To this end, we would reiterate our call for the impeachment of directors and chief executives who are serving in companies involved in price fixing scandals.
  • We would support government proposed policy review particularly on the issue of expropriation and support mechanism for land reform beneficiaries
  • We are calling for the convening of a NEDLAC sanctioned summit on the plight of farm dwellers in order to agree on interventions necessary to address their situation, including on terrible working conditions, horrible living conditions and human rights violations.
  • We would resist and campaign against ownership equity BEE transaction that excludes workers from collectively benefiting through an Employee Share Ownership Programs (ESOPs) trust.
  • We will campaign for the initiating of Industry BEE Charter Negotiations processes, with the fishing industry as a priority.

5. IMPLEMENTATION AND CAMPAIGN

5.1 We reaffirm our belief that all the above would not be achieved on a silver platter or through the mercy of employers. As such, we know that we will have to embark on a sustained campaign, including protest and strike actions, to bring pressure to bear on employers.
5.2 We endeavor to mobilize and educate our members on the need to wage these campaigns in order to achieve these goals and objectives.
5.3 To this end we would set up an implementation committee that would fine-tune action-plans in order to concretely take this program forward

6. CONCLUSION

In conclusion, we declare that we are aware of the responsibilities placed on our shoulders, as the leadership, shop stewards, staff members and officials, and undertake to execute these to the best of our ability and with the necessary commitment and determination.

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