Marikana: Cosatu calls for second commission of inquiry

2012-09-17 21:09

Cosatu has called for a second, independent commission of inquiry, in addition to the judicial commission of inquiry set up by President Jacob Zuma.

The labour federation is also set to decide whether it would be fighting for a national minimum wage so that “poverty wages” would be brought to an end.

At the end of the first day of Cosatu’s congress today, general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi read a special declaration on Marikana, drawn up last week by the general secretaries of five affiliates, including NUM, Numsa and Sadtu.

According to the declaration the second commission of inquiry should also look at the “global context of the industry”.

It should ultimately help bring about the transformation of the mining industry.

Cosatu wants this second commission to be of a scale similar to the 1979 Wiehahn Commission into labour legislation and the 1995 Leon Commission into health and safety on the mines.

It would trace the history of the mining industry in South Africa, “including the past and present discriminatory practices and the history of treating mine workers as subhuman”.

The declaration also speaks out about the use of force and unconstitutional measures to resolve the disputes.

It says Cosatu abhors the use of “brute force by the police against workers in all labour disputes”, and it also calls for the demilitarisation of the police force.

It says the police has failed to act against those who physically attack NUM, but adds that a call for police to act properly isn’t a call for the “violent repression of protesting workers”.

It calls for unity in the NUM, and for workers not to break away if they have grievances.

Cosatu said it would make a “strong appeal to any NUM member who has a genuine grievance against the union to channel this through the union, or via Cosatu if necessary”.

It also calls on the police to investigate, arrest, prosecute and convict those guilty of attacks on mine workers and their families.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said Cosatu should be careful not to blame government entirely and exempt the mining companies from responsibility.

Cosatu pledged that its members would assist Zuma’s judicial commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of what caused last month’s massacre in which 34 people were killed by police.

“We pledge to do our part to ensure that all the relevant factors and evidence that led to the violence and tragedy of August 16 are revealed by ensuring that our members who witnessed violence before, during and after the tragedy cooperate with the commission of inquiry,” said Vavi.

Cosatu declared “solidarity” with communities in the Rustenburg areas affected by the ongoing Lonmin illegal strike and other strikes that have since cropped up in other mines.

“Cosatu stands ready to join all South Africans and the progressive peoples of the world who genuinely want to see real peace and stability return to the affected mines through finding a just solution to the violent crisis.”

In the declaration Cosatu committed itself to “constantly working to improve the service that we unions provide our members, including to protect and advance collective bargaining and to fight against attempts by employers and other expedient groups to promote employer unilateralism and the fragmentation of worker power”.

Cosatu again defended its affiliate that organises the majority of mineworkers, NUM, against attacks on its members and leaders. The union lost several shopstewards since the beginning of the Marikana strike.

The congress tonight unanimously adopted the declaration with a few alterations.

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