Sunday Times

Q&A

- Iceland · Belgium

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?

Did we?

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?

I agree.

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.

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