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Eastern Cape Premier meets with labour union representatives

Nov 1, 2019
Eastern Cape Premier meets with labour union representatives

East London - The Eastern Cape Executive Council on Friday held a meeting with leaders of all labour unions representing employees working for the Eastern Cape provincial government in East London. 

This being the first meeting between the executive council of the Eastern Cape province and Leaders representing labour unions, the meeting discussed labour related matters, the state of the provincial government, the role of the workers in the implementation of the of the Provincial Development Plan. 

"As the democratic government, unlike the apartheid regime we see workers as a strategic partner to fulfil our National Democratic Revolution fundamental goal of building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society," Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, told delegates. 

"A few weeks ago, we launched a revised Provincial Development Plan - Our Vision 2030 blue print, which took into consideration the prevailing conditions in the domestic, national and global socio-political environment.

"To realise this vision we need all hands on deck from all social partners and workers must be at the forefront of working towards the realization of this vision. 

"I say this because the kind of province we want to be in 2030, which will  be enterprising and connected will mostly benefit the working class."

The Premier said that his administration wants workers to be active participants in the implementation of this Vision 2030 blue print to change the current state of poverty, unemployment and inequality in the province. 

He added that the sixth administration has already encapsulated this vision into seven priorities which were pronounced in the State of the Province Address and these are: 

  • Economic transformation and job creation; 
  • Education, skills and health; 
  • Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services is another important priority; 
  • Spatial integration, human settlements and local government; 
  • Social cohesion and safe communities is another key priority; 
  • Building a capable, ethical and developmental State; and 
  • Building a better Africa and world. 

"Over the past few months we have engaged other social partners and now is the time to have a meeting of minds with Labour. Colleagues, we are holding this session now, deliberately because when we officially start the business of the sixth term in April, there should be no areas of disputes that consume our time; all of us should focus on the development of our province and the provision of services to our people," Mabuyane said. 

"For us to realise these priorities, we rely on a highly capable Human Capital to drive the implementation of our Programme of Action and we believe we have that in abundance in the public servants that you represent.

"We are want to instill, good ethics and proffesionalism in the public service so that workers can serve our people diligently in sites of service delivery, be it in police stations, clinics and schools. 

"We also want to lead a sixth administration that has harmonious relations with unions, relations that are built on the fundamental values of trust, respect and service to the people first above all else. 

"I must applaud the fact that we did not have any major labour unrest during the fifth administration even though there were areas of disagreements between government and labour. So the successes that we recorded, be it the 14 % overall improvement in matric results for the term or the reduction in the burden of diseases such as TB and HIV/AIDS and child mortality were a result of a stable relationship between government and labour relationship. Siyacela ke nakulo wesithandathu urhulumente kungabikho moya weyantlukwano phakathi kwethu, sisengeleni thungeni linye sikwazi ukuvuna isivuno esihle ngo 2024." 

'Government exists to serve the people'

He reminded the delegates that government exists solely to serve the needs of the people.

"We are in service to work and get paid not to get paid and work and do all other things that would hamper the provision of services to the people," the Premier said. 

"In the SOPA, we  mentioned that to implement our five-year plan successfully we must build the capacity of the state to deliver. We must fix people to people relations in the public service and we must re-introduce a culture of performance and consequence management to improve service delivery.

"The Social Development and DEDEAT Building and HROPT issue are just a case in point. Government cannot expect optimal performance from employees who are working in unsafe conditions. Equally, government cannot expect good performance from rightfully aggrieved employees. 

"As the sixth administration we have committed and we are still committing to address shortage of office space not only at Head Office but in all our Districts. Great strides have been made already in developing such infrastructure in some of our Districts where we are creating one-stop-service centres for all government departments."

Mabuyane further said that, still the main prize that his government is fixed on, is the implementation of the Bhisho Office Precinct to accommodate all government departments at the seat of the Provincial Administration in Bhisho.

"That development will not only save us the money we are currently spending in rental throughout the province, it will also bring economic life to the Bhisho-King Williams Town Corridor of Buffalo City and lead to other developments and job creation. 

"Colleagues, all of us and particularly workers must be concerned when we hear that our country’s debt stands at R3 trillion and even worse is expected to rise to R4.5 trillion in the next three years. This is tax payer’s money that we should be ploughing back into our economy to build schools, hospitals, factories and other infrastructure to create more jobs," the Premier said. 

"The public wage bill is also an impediment we should collectively manage as it is clouding development. All of these challenges, a runaway wage bill and the huge debt of the country did not happen by mistake. They are a result of bad leadership by all social partners in our country. As partners, we must stop putting self-interests first and put the country interests first in our engagements going forward.

"What I am saying in essence Colleagues is that we must address our challenges but we must do so in a manner that does not compromise our fiscal resources. The dangers of that will be dire for us now and for future generations. Administrative issues such as the HROPT and others that require fiscal resources must be addressed, but in a responsible manner.

"We call upon the leadership of our unions to walk with us in the journey we are embarking on as the sixth administration as we build the Eastern Cape we want, an enterprising and connected province where all people reach their potential."

Image: Eastern Cape Cosatu provincial Chairperson, Thabile Kunene meets with the Premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane at the start of the one day meeting between the provincial Executive Council and leaders representing workers employed by the provincial government at the East London IDZ. Mabuyane said government and Labour have a responsibility to work together in developing the Eastern Cape Province. Pic by Mandla Nduna/ECOTP

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