New Cosatu president ZINGISWA LOSI says the trade union federation is serious about creating jobs. Chris Barron asked her …
So why did you threaten to boycott the jobs summit?
If your demand for no retrenchments was not met.
If you are going to sit in a jobs summit and you are retrenching workers, which jobs are you intending to create when you are shedding jobs?
Without businesses there can be no jobs, right?
How can you run a business if you’re not allowed to retrench?
If the only alternative around cutting costs is retrenching workers, there is something wrong.
In effect you’re saying businesses must rather go bankrupt?
Let businesses put up their books, let there be transparency, let us know what are the alternatives. It can’t be that they retrench without sitting with the stakeholders, which are trade unions and workers, and saying, this is the knock that we are taking.
What if zero economic growth is the knock they’re taking?
It can’t be that the only thing they think about is shedding jobs.
How can you demand no retrenchments and at the same time higher wages?
We demand higher wages because the cost of living is high.
Haven’t workers in the public sector been getting wage increases well above inflation?
The problem in the public sector is that when people leave through natural attrition they don’t get replaced. Posts have been frozen and workers are overworked.
Is that why we have the lowest productivity rates in the world?
It is because they are exhausted; one worker has to do the work of three.
Who’s going to start a business if they can’t fire unproductive workers?
If the worker doesn’t perform, the Labour Relations Act provides solutions for how you’re going to deal with that issue.
Who’s going to start a business when there’s so much red tape?
There isn’t. There is a code of conduct and it’s the company’s prerogative how it should look and what are the penalties. The only thing workers would do is to defend themselves if they feel they’ve been unfairly treated. Of course, the onus is on the one that is accusing to prove [unfairness]. The union you belong to will make a representation, just like anyone has a right to be represented.
How can small businesses grow and provide more jobs if you force collective bargaining on them?
Collective bargaining is the best because you don’t have to speak to each and every business with different needs and expectations and interests.
Do you agree that for job creation you need investors?
Yes, but you can’t allow exploitation of workers.
How can you say you take jobs seriously when you threaten to shut the country down?
We do take jobs seriously, but that doesn’t mean we are going to allow things to happen that are detrimental to the livelihoods of workers.
How can you keep threatening strikes when there’s no economic growth and 40% unemployment?
It can’t be that workers can’t exercise their rights as a last resort.