Cosatu calls for state agencies such as Sassa to be reabsorbed into public service

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. Picture: Jabu Kumalo
Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. Picture: Jabu Kumalo

State-owned entities performing line functions of public service departments need to be redirected and reabsorbed back to the public service.

This was the call made by Cosatu at a media briefing in Braamfontein on Thursday following the central executive committee meeting.

The trade union pinpointed the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) as one such entity that could urgently benefit from being reabsorbed into the public sector.

“Cosatu reiterates its position that agencies that are performing line functions of public service departments, such as Sassa, need to be redirected and reabsorbed back to the public service as this will strengthen the capacity of public service and will also reduce costs,” said Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.

Cosatu also said it was supportive of a development approach that explores strategic partnerships with the private sector.

“We approach this not from the assumption that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector but with the understanding that overcoming poverty and creating jobs cannot be the sole responsibility of an overburdened state,” said Ntshalintshali.

The trade union has often criticised the idea of privatisation, saying it will lead to workers in the SOEs losing their jobs.

However the union now supports the reintegration of entities such as Sassa as this could prevent ailing SOEs from suffering further financial distress and having to rely on bailouts from government.

“Many state-owned enterprises are in a shambles. They have long been mismanaged and they rely on bailouts for survival. It also condemned the leadership of both South African airways (SAA), Eskom and SABC for not involving unions in their restructuring plans,” said Ntshalintshali.

Cosatu criticised the “reckless” spending of money by SOEs saying it leads to workers suffering as a result of job losses or the SOEs lack of funds to pay workers.

Ntshalintshali also warned against the idea that privatisation was the solution to all SOEs’ problems and made reference to the 900 workers that were retrenched by the ArcelorMittel plant in Saldanha Bay early this month.

“We continue to reject privatisation, the retrenchment of 900 workers at the ArcelorMittal plant in Saldanha Bay is a reminder of what reckless privatisation has done to people’s lives,” Palmer said.

He clarified the fact that Cosatu’s congress had a resolution to oppose privatisation, however indicated that in some instances it will support equity partnerships if the government retains control.

Last week, Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Palmer told City Press that although Cosatu is known for its opposition to privatisation – on the grounds that it could lead to job losses and the extraction of profits by business – partial privatisation should be carried out to prevent ailing SOEs from suffering further financial distress and having to rely on bailouts from government.

For the partial privatisation to work, Pamla called for measures to be put in place to stop the siphoning of funds by SOE officials, saying those entrusted with overseeing these entities ought to go a step further and actively recoup funds that had already been mismanaged.


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