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Monday, 13 December 2010 12:46

Press Release:

SACTWU National Executive Committee pronounces on the new growth path

The Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has convened a Special meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) to consider government’s New Growth Path (NGP), in preparation for the Special Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting convened by COSATU for 14-15 December 2010. The SACTWU NEC is our union’s highest decision-making body, after our National Congress. Our Special NEC was held last week in Durban.

The SACTWU NEC has welcomed the NGP as a decisive break from the unilateralism of the previous Growth, Employment & Redistribution (GEAR) policy, and from GEAR’s restrictive macro-economic  substance. Our NEC was appreciative that unlike GEAR, which was imposed as a non-negotiable fete-a-compli economic growth plan for our country, the NGP promotes social dialogue about how best to shape both  its content and its  implementation processes. Unlike GEAR, our NEC noted, the NGP places job creation at its centre, promotes a looser monetary policy stance, commits to fiscal growth in real terms (despite its mention of fiscal restraint) and contains enough indications of an expansionary fiscal stance (for example, in addition to its firm fiscal real growth commitment, the NGC contains elements which could unleash billion of rands for additional off-budget fiscal expenditure directed at job creation which, in reality, amounts to an expansionary fiscal policy framework wider than the actual 2% annual real fiscal growth currently envisaged in the NGP).

On the NGP proposal for a price-wage-savings social pact, our NEC has taken the same stance as that contained in the final Declaration of the Civil Society Conference convened by COSATU in September this year: that the concept of a social pact in itself must not be rejected but that the commitments in its final content would determine whether or not it is acceptable. For example, a government commitment on capping administered prices (as offered by the NGP)  such as inflation-linked electricity price increases, could bring welcome relief from high electricity price increases recently imposed on workers, industry and the poor. The wage capping bands proposed bear no real practical danger for workers in the clothing, textile and leather industry, as in reality their minimum wages are the lowest in the whole of the South Africa manufacturing industry. But any attempt to water down worker rights and interests will be firmly rejected.

Our NEC has noted some concerns in the NGP, but have concluded that these should be brought to COSATU’s attention as part of a package of concerns in the NGP to be addressed in the engagement process with  government and other stakeholders, but that these concerns in itself are not of such a nature that it would warrant a rejection of the NGP.

The SACTWU NEC has noted the army of very vocal and alarmist rightwing attacks on the NGP, noted concerns raised by other COSATU affiliates, measured the NGP against the Polokwane  resolutions and the COSATU growth path proposal released in September, has rejected BUSA’s call for an NGP which is less state interventionist and has concluded that the balance of forces in the current conjuncture are of such a nature that the NGP provides labour with its best opportunity, since the unilateral imposition of GEAR, to decisively shift and re-direct  economic policy to address the most pressing challenge  of our time: decent job creation.

Issued by
Andre Kriel
General Secretary
SACTWU

If further comment is required, Mr Kriel would be able to respond to queries from 12h30 today, as he is unfortunately not available before then due to him attending a funeral in his extended family which takes place during the early part of today. Kindly leave a message with Fachmy Abrahams, Co-ordinator in the Office of the General Secretary on  cell number  0738021485.