SA unions and employers to strike a deal

CYRUS VANCE, the UN Special Representative, is due in South Africa today, where he will find that his mission to help to achieve an end to political violence and a resumption of constitutional negotiations is looking less impossible than it did last week.

Members of the United Nations Security Council meeting in emergency debate last week could only have been reinforced in their decision to dispatch Mr Vance after witnessing the spectacle of the country's political players tearing each other rhetorically to pieces.

But hope has come from a deal struck by big business and the trade unions. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the most powerful ally of the African National Congress (ANC), recently announced plans for five days of strike action, starting with a general strike on 3 and 4 August, in protest at the government's failure to stop political violence and accept majority rule.

Big business, via the South African Co-ordinating Committee on Labour Affairs (Saccola), resolved that instead of confrontation it would attempt to sit down and negotiate - something the government and the ANC are incapable of doing at present.

The upshot is that the 3 August general strike will become a day of national reconciliation in which business plays its part by shutting down in solidarity for 24 hours. Any strike action will be suspended until the end of September and Cosatu will not take any action damaging to the economy.

One of those behind the agreement, Bobby Godsell, an Anglo American Corporation executive, was reported in yesterday's Business Day newspaper as saying that the two organisations 'had been asked to do things which for each of them are unusual'.

For Cosatu, it meant watering down industrial action; for Saccola, it meant officially sanctioning a work stoppage. It is expected that the agreement will be signed either tonight or tomorrow. Yesterday, both Cosatu and Saccola negotiators were busy attempting to convince their members of the wisdom of the plan.

Saccola officials must persuade their companies that by entering into the agreement they are not ditching their traditional allies in government and jumping on the ANC bandwagon. Cosatu has to persuade its harder-line members it has not sold out 'the masses' to 'bourgeois capitalism'.

The exact phrasing of the final document will provide an indication of who has won and who has lost the most politically: the government or the ANC.

For Mr Vance's visit to be a success, a European diplomat remarked yesterday, it is imperative that he avoids aligning himself with one side. He must come up with suggestions that avoid the notion of winners and losers.

'Vance must endeavour to help build a foundation of confidence and trust between the ANC and the government, and that will only be achived if the government can persuade the ANC that they are taking the problem of violence seriously,' the diplomat said.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant

£12500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This accounting practice is looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Casual Visitor Experience Assistants

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To work within the Visitor Experience Departm...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy