NUMSA views COSATU’s strike as an act of desperation
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has noted COSATU's calls for a socio-economic strike on the 27th of September. COSATU called for all workers to go on strike against state capture and corruption. The irony is that the federation is very much a part of the system of ‘kleptocracy’ and ‘neopatrimonialism’ which has captured the ANC. NUMSA views these calls for a socio-economic strike against the very government which COSATU is in alliance with, as nothing more than the federations desperate attempt to remain relevant.
It is a fact that NUMSA was the first within the alliance to call for Zuma's resignation at our Special National Congress of 2013. Furthermore we rejected the ANC because the cancer of cronyism and corruption had begun to destroy the party, and also, because the ANC had become a champion for white monopoly capital. It abandoned the Freedom Charter and for the last 23 years it has shamelessly pursued a neo-liberal agenda.
COSATU has been exposed as a hollow mouthpiece for ANC factions. It has failed to act in the interests of the working class. It has been reduced to simply rubber stamping the ANC’s neo-liberal agenda which is responsible for high levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment in the country. NUMSA's expulsion from the federation was an attempt to punish the union for exposing COSATU as a yellow federation whose interests are intertwined with the state.
The decision by COSATU to go on strike is an attempt to distract from its glaring failure as a labour movement. It has been unable to influence the ANC to change its disastrous economic policies and to get it to stop pandering to the IMF, the World Bank and ratings agencies. Despite the presence of Labour in the alliance, the ANC has introduced Etolls; labour brokers and the Youth Wage Subsidy. The once mighty federation has been downgraded to a Labour desk which the ANC government uses to legitimize capitalist economic policies which are an attack on the working class.
Such is COSATU's ideological bankruptcy that it is actively campaigning for workers to support their worst butcher in the form of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Despite the false rhetoric from the leadership of COSATU, the deputy president is no different to Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa has already demonstrated that he is just as brutal against the working class as the President. Ramaphosa may have risen to prominence because he was the founder of the National Union of Mineworkers, but he is an unrepentant union basher. His legacy is soaked in the blood of the Marikana miners, who he described as "dastardly" days before they were massacred by police for demanding a living wage of R12500. Furthermore, the deputy president is driving the implementation of a National Minimum Wage of just R20 per hour, which is nothing more than an attempt to legalize slave wages. The greatest irony is that this former trade unionist is actively promoting legislation to limit the right to strike. Endorsing Ramaphosa as a presidential candidate is the ultimate betrayal of the working class!
When COSATU calls for a strike against state capture, they are in fact calling for a strike against themselves because they are part of the very machinery which is being used to oppress workers every day. Their continued unwavering support for the ANC means that they are part of the same parasitic networks which are choking our economy. If COSATU had even a shred of revolutionary consciousness left, they would make a clean break from the ANC. But their appetite for power and their dependence on patronage networks will keep them from taking this bold step.
As NUMSA we must also point out the hypocrisy of NEDLAC. We applied for the right to embark on a socio-economic strike at the beginning of the year to protest against the jobs bloodbath, but NEDLAC, refused to grant us permission. And yet, COSATU has been granted the right to shut down the economy, in order to fight battles on behalf of an ANC faction!
The leadership at COSATU has failed workers. They continue to support a political party whose economic policies are responsible for the massive jobs blood bath. The ANC does not have the courage to implement radical policies which will fundamentally transform the lives of the majority of people for the better. They refuse to nationalize the mines, the banks and the land; they will not grant free quality tertiary education. The ANC cares more about playing its role as the security guard for White Monopoly Capital or the Gupta’s, and that will not change, regardless of who is leading the party. The ANC has demonstrated that it hates the working class and the poor and yet COSATU’s leadership continues to lobby the support of the working class to defend it!
It is for this reason that NUMSA stands by its decision to form part of a truly worker controlled, independent, militant and revolutionary workers’ federation like SAFTU which will fight corruption and defend workers’ rights. Furthermore NUMSA has actively demonstrated its fearlessness in promoting improved working conditions and fighting against corruption. We are leading the charge to clean up South African Airways and the Road Accident Fund. We recently won a Labour Appeals Court case which cements the rights of contract workers. We believe in Worker control and that is why we are building a Workers Party, which will fight in the interests of workers in order to replace the corrupt capitalist system which is responsible for the suffering of the working class.
Therefore NUMSA is calling on all its members not to participate in the strike. Workers should not give up a day’s wages to help the leadership of COSATU fulfill a narrow political agenda. Workers should not sacrifice their earnings for a COSATU leadership which has sold out the working class, just so it can have access to a corrupt ANC leadership and its patronage networks. For NUMSA, the 27th of September will be spent just like any other day, fighting to improve the working conditions of the working class.
NUMSA members and members affiliated to SAFTU should await the federations call for a national strike against job losses, neo-liberal policies, corruption, the National Minimum Wage as well as governments attempt to tamper with our right to strike.
We are inspired by the revolutionary former president of Burkina Faso, comrade Thomas Sankara who once said:
NUMSA is committed to establishing this this new Socialist society in our lifetime.
The struggle continues!
Statement issued by Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary, 23 September 2017