Vavi: Confront xenophobia

2013-06-22 14:34
Zwelinzima Vavi (File, Sapa)

Zwelinzima Vavi (File, Sapa)

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Johannesburg - South Africans must confront xenophobia because it diverts the blame for the country's economic problems, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Saturday.

"We must... confront the problem of xenophobia, which seeks to divert the blame for our economic problems from the employers and the capitalist system to our fellow workers from other countries who are struggling to scrape a living here," the Congress of SA Trade Unions leader said in a speech prepared for delivery.

Vavi was speaking at the Limpopo young workers forum in Polokwane.

He said there had been an outbreak of splinter unions "often in collusion with employers".

"This risks further weakening the workers' defences."

Vavi said workers around the world were under attack in the aftermath of the 2008 world economic crisis, through ruthless austerity measures, retrenchments and the casualisation of labour.

He said the trade union federation would not change its position on labour brokers.

"Labour brokers act as parasites in the employment relationship, who supply workers to do jobs that already exist, and which in many cases would previously have been permanent full-time jobs."

‘Little change’ in economy

Vavi said most of the workers supplied and employed by the labour brokers earned low wages and did not enjoy any benefits.

"That is why we make no apology for calling it human trafficking and a modern form of slavery," he said.

Vavi said South Africa had made progress in areas of human rights, civil liberties, welfare payments but left the economy "little changed".

"A small, ultra-rich, still mainly white and male elite, owns and controls all the most powerful industrial and financial companies, a growing number of which are now also controlled from overseas."

Vavi said the problem was that progressive policies were undermined by macro-economic policies by Treasury and the SA Reserve Bank.

"Their priority is to attract more foreign investment, by convincing them that the privately-owned economy is in safe, capitalist hands and that the market economy is firmly entrenched," he said.

Vavi said Cosatu would always welcome foreign investment "but not at any price".

"We will certainly not allow South Africa’s economic policies to be dictated by the interests of these investors, above those of the people in a sovereign democratic country," he said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    cosatu  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  xenophobia
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