Docstoc

Political assessment of the strike Position Paper by the COSATU

Document Sample
Political assessment of the strike Position Paper by the COSATU Powered By Docstoc
					Political assessment of the strike: Position Paper by the COSATU National Office Bearers 1. Introduction
COSATU NOBs reflected on the current strike of the public service workers and this paper represents their thoughts on the political significance of the strike and the challenges it poses to the trade union movement. We are united in the view that things will never be the same in collective bargaining in the public service thanks to the strike. It is for that reason that it is imperative to understand the meaning of the strike and draw important lessons for future engagement. The aim is not to provide a detail analysis even before the strike is over, but to highlight and caution against the dangers of a dogmatic approach. We shall do a more comprehensive analysis later.

2. A Historic Strike
The public sector strike will go down in the history of our country as the best industrial action ever to be led by COSATU unions for a number of reasons: This is the first protracted strike in the public service, lasting more than 27 days. This is a demonstration of power by a relatively a young movement. It shows that our movement in this critical sector have come off age. A strike is only organised by those with functioning structures and a vibrant organisation. In 1999 we were weaker and that s why government unilaterally implemented the wage offer. The power of this strike today makes it difficult for the government to consider the option of unilateral implementation. Not in our wildest dreams did we think that the COSATU unions could manage to lead the entire public sector unions in the manner they have done. We never thought that the unity forged in the past 27 days of the strike action would be possible. Yet for all this period, all the public sector unions in unison spoke with one voice and acted in concert in pursuance of their legitimate demands. No other COSATU union has managed this. In the recent periods coalitions of this kind led by other COSATU unions outside the public sector only last for three days before other unions outside COSATU attaches their signatures to anything on offer. Precisely because of the above point, this 2007 surpasses the 1987 historic mineworkers strike in size. It s the biggest strike lasting over 27 days involving anything between 600 000 to a million workers. Because of all these and other factors, the relationship between the government as the employer and its workers represented by the unions on strike has been transformed. Never again will government treat bargaining in the public service as some form of collective begging process where it predetermine outcomes through the budget process. In future it will know that it must bargain to avoid a repeat of what it saw and experienced only for the first time in 2007.

1

From this point of view the strike organisationally and politically represents a victory for the public sector workers in particular and the South African trade union movement in general. It is from this context that we debated the strike, its gains and the mistakes that have been made. At this stage there are two dangers confronting the labour movement: a) political defeat of the strike, and b) the strike fizzling out and seems possible with HOSPERSA and NAPTOSA breaking ranks; and c) difficulties arising out of different bottom lines and mandates amongst COSATU affiliated unions. Fragmentation of the labour voice can lead to unions individually signing with the employer. Were all of these things to happen then we will have failed to provide leadership.

3. Assessment of the Revised Offer
The package represents some gains: The NOBs discussed the draft agreement in the context of the attached document. It is the view of the NOBs that the draft agreement in its totality represents some progress and gains. We do feel that there is a genuine information gap between leaders and the membership. Report backs and mobilisation has focused, in a one-sided fashion on the 12% wage increase demand. Largely members have not been taken on board on other important aspects of the negotiations. The danger of this approach is that we can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. There is a danger that we will demoralise members in a manner that will risk them losing confidence in their unions and its leadership by down playing our gains and not claiming our victories or progress we have made. The strike has forced the employer to make real shifts from its initial position. Government initial offer before the strike was at 6% in wages, vague offer on OSD and pay progression, R242, 00 per month for housing allowance. Further, government demanded a four-year agreement and have refused to engage on the need for minimum service agreements, etc and its total package was R9 billion. The strike forced them to increase total offer to R14, 5 billion that has improved the package considerably over the past three weeks of strike action. We must therefore, provided a balance report, that take on board the other important victories. A one-sided focus on failure to increase wages by 12% as per our original demands is defeatist and demoralising. Certainly, from the NOB position, we must approach 12% not as a principle but as bargaining tool and moreover failure to achieve this goal should not overshadow other gains. In summary the strike was historic because: It will change the bargaining dynamics as it has demonstrated the power of the union movement and the workers. The sheer size of the strike is also a factor to take into account between 600 000 to a million workers going on strike has no close parallel. The level of solidarity and public sympathy. During the build up to the strike the media and the public were sympathetic to the workers. This was informed by public awareness of the low wages being paid to public 2

servants against a rising cost of living plus the chaotic state of public services. Never before this strike did COSATU manage to organise a sympathy strike. This time around we got the local government workers to join the strike even if it was just for one day. Above that hundreds of thousands of other COSATU members held one lunch hour picket and demonstrations in support of the strike. We have rewritten history. We need to finalise the issue of essential services otherwise we lose public sympathy on this one point. Government and the media focused on this issue plus violence to try and discredit the strike.

4. Maintaining the Moral High Ground: A Review of the Strike Tactics; taking the initiative and putting the opponent on the defensive all the time
Collective bargaining is both about power: both physical and mental power. The public support for the strike was overwhelming. It was overwhelming because the public knows that it true that the wages of the public sector workers have been kept low and that government is not investing in the public infrastructure leading to low levels of morale and poor service to the public. As we said above COSATU for the first time in history managed to mobilised solidarity from other sectors. Local government workers came out on a full one-day strike and with the rest of other unions where they could engage in lunch demonstrations. Government had to respond hence it was forced to keep on improving its offer from 5,3% to 5,6%, 6%, 6,5%, 7%, 7,25% and now 7,5%. The unions for too long did not have a fallback position, turning 12% into a principle. This apparent inflexibility on our part saved government and projected the unions as intransigent. In the public eye, regardless of the minuscule movements by government, it was perceived to be more flexible than the unions. When the majority of the unions began to realise that 12% was not going to be won they did not move quickly enough to the bottom-line position or to make a settlement demand. Because no bottom-line and or fallback position has been developed before the strike unions only began to ask that mandate to move to a fall back on the second week of the strike. This was an error, which lies behind feelings of betrayal by some members. This one-dimensional way of mobilising almost meant that anyone suggesting a fallback would be labelled a sell-out, leading to an impasse because leaders would be scared to suggest alternative for fear of ridicule or being painted as sell-outs. In the meantime we allowed the government to take the initiative and presented its final offer and forced us to respond to its final offer instead of us presenting a settlement demand and forcing government to respond. COSATU NOBs are not doing seeking to do a detailed assessment of the strike even before its over but we do believe that this area is the reason why unions are facing a difficulty in this ongoing consultation with members. We do believe that the leadership is too weary to excise leadership hence we risk loosing credibility as a reliable negotiating partner. We are certainly not suggesting that leaders should engage in symbolic and meaningless consultations that do not reflect the democratic character of the trade union 3

movement. But we do believe that it has become a problem that we have been in consultation since Wednesday last week whilst not pursuing negotiations at the chamber or through political process to force government to improve its offer. By the time we convene a broader meeting it will be seven days of more sacrifices by members all taken by consultation and not by actively seeking to improve the government s final offer.

5. Way Forward
We are keen to hear the report backs from members. Everything has to be weighed properly and leadership has to be exercised. Only two options are open to us either we have to call off the strike and sign the agreement or we have to suspend the strike and refuse to sign with the hope to mobilise our members again on a later date. This route has huge implications in particular for unions with members dismissed for participating in the strike in defiance to them being defined as essential services. There are huge questions as to whether we do have a capacity to remobilise members at the same scale again in few weeks down the line taking into account that the strike is already 27 days today. There is also no precedents we are aware of which allows unions to exercise power in the middle of that suspend the usage of that power, only to want to excise that power down the line, on the same issues that gave rise to the same dispute. We need to check legally if this is possible. Whatever choice we will make we must communicate that by holding a press conference at 10:00 tomorrow to announce our decisions. This should be followed by massive internal communication by all unions. If we choose to sign and end the strike then we must explain why we did so. Equally If we refuse to sign and but suspend the strike with the hope of mobilising them again in the future we must communicate this effectively.

4

WHY THIS AGREEMENT BENEFITS LABOUR (only this portion)

1.

SALARIES Employees will see a real increase of 5% over 2 years (based on an average projected inflation of 5.5% for 2007/2008). The 5% includes adjustments for pay progression. Educators, nurses and legally qualified employees will also see a substantial adjustment during the course of the year with the implementation of the revised occupation specific remuneration system. Nurses and legal with effect from 1 July 2007 and school based educators with effect from 1 January 2008. See attached tables that provide a framework for educators and health professionals. As per the agreement a similar framework is being developed for the correctional services, legal, architects, etc which will be effected on the July 1 2008. Just on translation educators will receive an average adjustment of 3% on 1 January 2008. Effectively in this financial year receiving 10.5% (7.5% + 3%). Employees on salary level 1 with 5 or more years of service move to salary level 2 effectively a further adjustment of approximately 10% - therefore a salary adjustment for 2007/08 of 17.5% (7.5% + 10%) Employees on salary level 2 with 20+ years of service move to salary level 3 effectively a further adjustment of approximately 9% therefore a salary adjustment for 2007/08 of 16.5% (7.5% + 9%). HOUSING ALLOWANCE Increase from R242pm to R500pm for all employees. The original proposal was for a max of R403 on 1 January 2009. This increase also benefits bondholders, as their allowance will increase to R500pm as well.

2.

3.

MEDICAL ASSISTANCE Membership to GEMS will benefit by a max of R120pm, backdated to 1 April 2007. BCEA Normal overtime increased from 1 x salary to 1½ times salary. Ordinary work on Sundays increased from 1x salary to 1½ x salary. Ordinary work on public holidays increased from 1x salary to 2 x salaries. Payment of leave benefit on retirement, death, resignation and ill health increased from basic salary as a basis of calculation to basic salary + 37%.

4.

5

5.

ALLOWANCES Night shift, standard and special danger allowances increased by 25% with effect from 1 July 2007. New categories added to danger allowances:o Nurses working with psychiatric patients o Emergency services personnel o Immigration officers FILLING OF FUNDED VACANT POSTS( up to here) A clear commitment by the employer to advertise and fill vacant positions within 12 months Supply Council with regular reports on this process.

6.

6

TRANSLATION: TEACHER Current (30 June 07) Level 6 79,914 80,712 81,519 82,332 83,157 83,988 84,831 85,683 86,538 87,399 88,278 89,160 90,054 90,954 91,863 92,781 Revised - 7.5% (1 July 07) 85,908 86,766 87,633 88,506 89,394 90,288 91,194 92,109 93,027 93,954 94,899 95,847 96,807 97,776 98,754 99,741 % increase ito OSD 4.4% 3.4% 2.4% 1.4% 3.4% 2.4% 1.3% 0.3% 2.3% 1.3% 0.3% 2.3% 1.3% 0.3% 5.3% 4.3% 7.5% Plus OSD translation 11.9% 10.9% 9.9% 8.9% 10.9% 9.9% 8.8% 7.8% 9.8% 8.8% 7.8% 9.8% 8.8% 7.8% 12.8% 11.8% Level 8 Current (30 June 07) 123,624 124,863 126,114 127,371 128,646 129,936 131,235 132,546 133,872 135,213 136,563 137,928 139,305 140,703 142,113 143,529 Revised - 7.25% (1 July 07) 132,897 134,229 135,573 136,923 138,294 139,680 141,078 142,488 143,913 145,353 146,805 148,272 149,754 151,257 152,772 154,293

Revised ito OSD 89,730 89,730 89,730 89,730 92,421 92,421 92,421 92,421 95,196 95,196 95,196 98,052 98,052 98,052 104,022 104,022

No of Employees 21260 7978 4651 4862 6676 2960 7090 4893 522 4145 109 334 3835 4625 391 4607

Revised ito OSD 135,726 135,726 135,726 139,800 139,800 139,800 143,994 143,994 143,994 152,763 152,763 148,311 152,763 152,763 162,066 162,066

Level 7

99,540 100,539 101,544 102,561 103,587 104,622 105,669 106,731 107,799 108,876 109,962 111,060 112,173 113,295 114,432 115,575

107,007 108,078 109,161 110,253 111,357 112,470 113,595 114,735 115,884 117,042 118,209 119,391 120,585 121,791 123,015 124,242

113,673 113,673 113,673 113,673 113,673 113,673 113,673 117,081 117,081 117,081 120,591 120,591 120,591 124,212 124,212 127,935

6.2% 5.2% 4.1% 3.1% 2.1% 1.1% 0.1% 2.0% 1.0% 0.0% 2.0% 1.0% 0.0% 2.0% 1.0% 3.0%

19222 15247 9667 6195 10885 11208 19572 17060 1836 16657 704 3733 4294 622 4758 10098

13.7% 12.7% 11.6% 10.6% 9.6% 8.6% 7.6% 9.5% 8.5% 7.5% 9.5% 8.5% 7.5% 9.5% 8.5% 10.5%

Level 9

147,618 149,094 150,591 152,097 153,618 155,154 156,711 158,280 159,861 161,463 163,074 164,703 166,353 168,015 169,698 171,393

158,688 160,275 161,886 163,503 165,138 166,791 168,465 170,151 171,852 173,574 175,305 177,057 178,830 180,615 182,424 184,248

162,066 162,066 162,066 166,929 166,929 166,929 171,939 171,939 171,939 177,093 177,093 177,093 182,406 182,406 187,878 187,878

7

P

116,889

125,655

127,935

1.8%

1711

9.3%

P P

172,905 178,323

185,874 191,697

187,878 193,515

8

9

TABLE ILLUSTRATING HOW MANY EDUCATORS ARE AFFECTED BY DIFFERENT % INCREASES EMANATING FROM OCCUPATIONAL SPECIFIC DISPENSATION

POST LEVEL ONE EDUCATORS:
6.2% 5.25.3%
21222

4.14.4%
35538

3.13.4%
32947

22.4%
42333

11.9%
52564

00.3%
21537

19600

Total number of PL 1 Educators 225741 Percentage of Educators (PL1) receiving 3% and higher 48.42% Percentage of educators (PL1) receiving 2% and lower 51.58% Average percentage to be received by PL1 3.42% Average percentage to be received by PL1 after adding the 900m 5.04%

HOD S
8.4% 7.3% 6.2% 5.2% 4.13210.94.2% 3.5% 2.1% 1.1% 0.1%
6613 2659 1410 2257 9019 7706 1337 3951 3129

Total number of HOD s 38081 % receiving 3% and higher 77.90% % receiving 2% and lower 22.1%

10

Average percentage to be received by HOD 4.33% Average percentage to be received by HOD after adding the 900m 6.26%

DEPUTY PRINCIPALS:
8.3% 7.3% 6.2% 5.2% 4.1% 32103.1% 2.6% 1.6% 0.9%
1671 859 726 791 1558 2020 2256 1158 995

Total number of deputy principals 12034 % receiving 3% and higher 76.25% % receiving 2% and lower 23.75% Average percentage to be received by deputy principal 3.78% Average percentage to be received by deputy principal after adding the 900m 6.22%

PRINCIPALS:
8.4% 7.3% 6.2% 5.2% 4.1324.2% 3.6% 2.9%
208 213 140 2933 3065 4675 12260

101.9% 0.9%
5643 6533

Total number of principals 35670 % receiving 3% and higher 31.50% % receiving 2% and lower 68.5%

11

Average percentage to be received by Principal 4.51% Average percentage to be received by Principal after adding the 900m 6.26% NOTES: The discrepancies in the translation is a result of the direct translation from the current to the new costing R1b which has not taken into account issues of SENIORITY, etc The reason for higher numbers with lower % increases is to be taken to the ELRC for the remaining R900m to be factored in The DPSA cannot provide all the answers to questions raised as the matter hereafter becomes a sector specific matter The analysis above is to assist comrades in understanding the spread of % s across the different levels of institution based educators

MINIMUM TRANSLATION: DEPUTY AREA MANAGER - GENERAL/MANAGER: SMALL DISTRICT H Current (30 June 07) Level 9 146,685 148,143 149,628 151,128 152,640 154,167 155,706 157,263 158,835 160,419 162,027 163,647 165,285 166,938 168,606 170,295 Revised 7.5% (1 July 07) 157,686 159,255 160,851 162,462 164,088 165,729 167,385 169,059 170,748 172,449 174,180 175,920 177,681 179,457 181,251 183,066 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085 Revised ito OSD 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641 % increase ito OSD 32.3% 31.0% 29.7% 28.4% 27.2% 25.9% 24.6% 23.4% 22.2% 21.0% 19.8% 18.6% 17.4% 16.3% 15.1% 14.0% 7.5% Plus OSD translation 39.8% 38.5% 37.2% 35.9% 34.7% 33.4% 32.1% 30.9% 29.7% 28.5% 27.3% 26.1% 24.9% 23.8% 22.6% 21.5%

Level 10

183,084 184,911 186,762 188,634

196,815 198,780 200,769 202,782

194,085 194,085 194,085 194,085

208,641 208,641 208,641 208,641

6.0% 5.0% 3.9% 2.9%

13.5% 12.5% 11.4% 10.4%

12

190,515 192,423 194,349 196,287 198,252 200,235 202,236 204,261 206,301 208,365 210,447 212,550

204,804 206,856 208,926 211,008 213,120 215,253 217,404 219,582 221,775 223,992 226,230 228,492

194,085 194,085 199,908 199,908 199,908 205,905 205,905 205,905 212,082 212,082 212,082 218,445

208,641 208,641 214,902 214,902 214,902 221,349 221,349 221,349 227,988 227,988 227,988 234,828

1.9% 0.9% 2.9% 1.8% 0.8% 2.8% 1.8% 0.8% 2.8% 1.8% 0.8% 2.8%

9.4% 8.4% 10.4% 9.3% 8.3% 10.3% 9.3% 8.3% 10.3% 9.3% 8.3% 10.3%

13


				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Stats:
views:7
posted:12/16/2009
language:English
pages:13
Description: Political assessment of the strike Position Paper by the COSATU