November 6, 2003

Cosatu leaves growth summit

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) left a Western Cape Growth and Development Summit (GDS) meeting after accusing the provincial government of not taking the gathering seriously. The federation alleged that advisers to Western Cape premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk failed to read relevant documents and could hence not participate meaningfully in discussions. The alleged incident has seen Cosatu threatening to withdraw its participation from future meetings as well and even requested the intervention of President Thabo Mbeki.

The federation was hoping to use the summit to secure issues such as free access to trains for pensioners and the unemployed. Discussions were to focus on improving the public transport system, expanding the social security net and improving public health and safety and security. The aim behind provincial summits is the dissemination of the vision and objectives of the national Growth and Development Summit (GDS), which took place in June this year.

Although provinces are not compelled to hold them, they fall under the theme of local action, aimed at facilitating the implementation of the summit's objectives. They are also not expected to report to the National Economic Development and Labour Council, where most of the talks in the lead up to the GDS took place. So far, summits have been held in Eastern Cape and Free State. (Business Day, Johannesburg)

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