NEWS & ANALYSIS

Struggle of working class intensified – NUMSA

Union very firm that the working class has been under siege from ANC right-wing Alliance in partnership with the DA

NUMSA will intensify the struggle of the working class during workers month

7 May 2019

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is continuing to commemorate Workers’ Month under the banner of SAFTU, the only militant and independent trade union federation in South Africa. This month we will also celebrate the birth of our union. This year NUMSA will also be celebrating 32 unbroken years of workers struggle in South Africa. NUMSA has consistently been at the forefront of workers’ struggles since the dark days of Apartheid and we were intimately involved in its destruction. Some of our members have made the ultimate sacrifice fighting against the brutal Apartheid system. However, in spite of these efforts, the working class majority has not experienced the benefits of freedom, democracy and equality, which it fought so hard for.

We are very firm that the working class has been under siege from the ANC right-wing Alliance in partnership with the Democratic Alliance of Mmusi Maimane. This Capitalist evil axis has been pursuing an agenda to guarantee the wealth of White Monopoly Capital, and has been at war with the working class of the country. Therefore, the South African working class must not only vote for the SRWP on the 8th of May, but as NUMSA we have dedicated the entire month to mobilising the working class to defend itself and to pursue class struggle. It is time for the working class to stop surrendering its power to capitalist butchers.

The conditions of the working class continue to worsen because of the failure of the capitalist ANC government to transform our society, in their interests. In 2013 during the historic NUMSA Special National Congress, we noted the following:

The global crisis of capitalism continues and offers a bleak future for any emerging economy that fails to build its own manufacturing industry. South Africa is not only failing to increase industrialization. The ANC government, including its component from the leadership of the SACP, has presided over a dramatic decrease in the levels of industrialization in the country. This is not an accident; it does not come from incompetence or inefficiency on the part of the ANC and SACP leadership. It comes from the fact that the leadership of the ANC and SACP is protecting the interests of white monopoly capital and imperialism against the interests of the working class. The ANC and SACP leadership defends the ownership and control of the mines, banks and monopoly industries in the hands of white monopoly capital and imperialism. The manipulation of the resolution by the ANC branches on nationalization by the leadership, the Deputy President of the ANC (and others), exploit the black working class in alliance with white monopoly capitalism and imperialism.”

Our analysis of the situation remains accurate, six years after that historic congress. The lives of the working class majority has worsened under the leadership of the ANC government, which has done everything in its power to protect value of white wealth. This is confirmed by the Oxfam report which confirms that the wealth of South Africa is held in the hands of an elite 1 per cent of the population, whilst the majority continues to languish in extreme poverty, unemployment and inequality. The ANC government is incapable of transforming the lives of the majority of people because Capitalism as a system thrives on inequality. Stats SA confirmed that half the population in South Africa lives in abject poverty, whilst unemployment is staggeringly high at 37% and it continues to grow. The ANC government has succeeded only in creating the most unequal society in the world. and to make matters worse, it has declared war on the working class in the following ways:

The implementation of the poverty National Minimum Wage of R20 per hour

Changes to the Labour Law to limit the right to strike

Plans to unbundle Eskom in order to enable privatization of the State Owned Entity

Regular and sustained increases in the fuel price

The continuation of the disastrous etolls project

All these, and more, have made life increasingly difficult for ordinary workers and their families’ to live a life of dignity, equality and freedom. The working class of this country was united in defeating the brutal Apartheid government. But the sad reality is that this Capitalist ANC government is just as violent and vicious as the Apartheid government on members of the working class majority.

This government has attacked workers and their families by imposing laws to make it harder to strike by tampering with the constitutional right of workers to strike. By imposing R20 an hour as a national minimum wage, the ANC government in a smart way, are sending a message to the Capitalist bosses that a slave wage of R20 per hour is an acceptable wage for workers, when in fact workers should be receiving a living wage, which destroys the apartheid, colonial, racist wages as was demanded by the volunteers of 1955 who met in Kliptown to draft the Freedom Charter.

The ANC government is continuing to unbundle Eskom and they are doing so without having consulted anyone. They have sold out and betrayed the working class again, through the so-called ‘unbundling’ which is nothing but privatisation and will result in massive retrenchments, and higher electricity tariffs. And to add salt to the wound, they have begun to shut down coal fired power stations in Mpumalanga, in order to support the Independent Power Producer (IPP) program, which is a renewable energy program designed to benefit capitalists. The consequences of this decision will result in the loss of at least one hundred thousand jobs in the province of Mpumalanga. The ANC government does not care what happens to these workers and their families’. It has violated the principles of a Just Transition, in order to benefit the relatives of the ANC Capitalist elite. Eskom workers and the community of Mpumalanga and the rest of the country must not be fooled by the ANC government. After elections, they will be retrenching Eskom workers as they will be closing power stations and replacing them with IPPs. That is why NUMSA is filing a Section 77 application to embark on rolling mass action to oppose the privatisation of Eskom and the mass retrenchments of workers. They are already implementing unilateral retrenchments at Denel of up to 400 workers.

As we commemorate Workers month, our members at Matus and ArcelorMittal are on strike, fighting against racism and bullying in the workplace. Contract workers at ArcelorMittal are being exploited by contractors, some of whom operate like labour brokers, in spite of a constitutional court ruling which clearly stipulates that workers should be made permanent after three months. At Matus our members are suffering because of backward, racist management that has no interest in transforming. Our members in the Plastic sector went on a lengthy strike against an employer who, with the blessing of this brutal state, is down varying conditions in the workplace, and reducing all the hard won gains which were made in that sector. This ANC capitalist state is in partnership with brutal employers who are hell-bent to oppress and exploit workers.

NUMSA stands together with Abahlali Basemjondolo, which have described this freedom as Fake Freedom because the only ones who are free are the Capitalist elite who are getting richer and richer, whilst the working class is getting poorer and poorer. As NUMSA we support Abahlali Basemjondolo because they have been targeted by this reactionary, backward Capitalist government, for being a truly, independent, and militant landless peoples’ movement, fighting for land and dignity. For taking a principled stand, the leadership of this organisation have been systematically murdered. The capitalist ANC want to destroy them, and regularly destroys their settlements, leaving hundreds of families’ homeless and devastated. The ANC government has done nothing to arrest the assassins and ensure that the land hunger question is addressed.

The Special National Congress of 2013 also resolved that the working class needs a political formation of its own, which will unite the working class, and fight against the evils of this capitalist system. We view the birth of the SRWP as a watershed moment in the political landscape of South Africa, because it is the only political formation with an agenda to destroy Capitalism, and replace it with Socialism. As a Marxist-Leninist inspired trade union we have always believed that genuine freedom and equality can only be achieved through a democratic Socialist government, which is controlled by the working class. 

The working class are the creators of wealth, and yet, they are suffering. The working class are the most powerful motive force for genuine change and transformation, and yet, the majority continue to eke out an existence in the shanty towns and informal settlements, which are without basic services like water and electricity.

It is time for the working class to take its rightful place and for it to lead and drive an agenda for genuine transformation, in its own interests, and for the benefit of society at large. Even after elections, we make a clarion call to workers’ of South Africa to unite under the banner of the SRWP, in order to build this movement which will fight for genuine freedom and equality, which it has been denied, since the days of colonization. In fact, the ANC’s right-wing sell-out agenda as we celebrate Workers’ month, has reached its full cycle of being a disaster, and indeed, it is a raw deal for the South African working class.

The following is a short description of how the ANC government and its New Dawn supported by Maimane of the DA constitutes a raw deal for the South African working class and why workers must vote for the SRWP on the 8th of May 2019:

1. The ANC sold out the liberation vision and signed a negotiated settlement with white monopoly capital that they will not restructure the South African economy and address the fundamentals of ownership and control of the economy through the nationalisation of all commanding heights and all our minerals and mines under worker control. Such a negotiated settlement has run its course and it has failed to deliver to the working class and it will never deliver to the working class.

2.  The ANC leadership, as a result of this right-wing trade-off that sold the whole revolution implemented a self-imposed structural adjustment programme in the form of GEAR. When we protested and demanded the dumping of GEAR, to fool everybody, including COSATU and the SACP, they decided to put up a hollow National Development Plan, which says nothing about the restructuring of the South African economy or how to deal with monopolies. Instead, it made a clarion call for the attack of hard won gains of the working class and it said nothing about jobs and job creation. The only jobs it talks about are window cleaning and hair dressing.

3. The ANC’s Cyril Ramaphosa so called ‘New Dawn’ has resulted in more austerity measures, more privatisation of all SOEs, and their primary target is Eskom where they are willing to retrench workers and destroy their jobs purely to create space for the IPP’s in the national grid.

4. The ANC government for the past two decades has failed to address the land question and they will never address it as long as they pay lip service instead of tampering with the bourgeois constitution, in particular the property clause which remains a stumbling block to land redistribution.

5. To date, despite the Freedom Charter that says the doors of learning and culture should be open to all, there is no free and compulsory education in South Africa. They are busy celebrating the settlement of NSFAS debt instead of guaranteeing life-long quality, decolonized Learning, Education and Culture for all, for free!

In 2013, against this track record of selling out the working class and the South African revolution, NUMSA told COSATU, the SACP, and the ANC that the so-called national democratic revolution, which was the basis of an ANC led alliance was off-track in that there was no agenda to fully implement the Freedom Charter and to affirm into ownership and control Blacks and Africans in a way that changes power relations as an agenda and path that must be the most direct route to socialism. The response of the ANC led alliance vanguarded by the SACP was to expel NUMSA from COSATU. Within no time, we were proven correct as the conditions of the working class continued to worsen in that in 2018, the whole country was in a technical recession as the Washington Consensus neo-liberal policies had collapsed.

As we speak, 30.4 million South Africans are without a plate of food and unemployment is nearing 40% if you include those who have given up on looking for work. It is a fact that the ANC government have completely run out of ideas on how to stimulate economic growth. In fact, their approach to satisfy the IMF and World Bank is to continue to give the country the same prescription of austerity measures which has produced all the social ills and miseries of the working class.  Instead of looking for solutions outside the realm of capitalism and going for an expansionary, counter-cyclical budget which our country desperately needs, which includes filling of all vacancies in the public service sector and paying all public servants a living wage, and championing a state that intervenes in the economy and a state that is the employer of the last resort.

It is against this background that NUMSA mandated by its constitutional structures, is making a clarion call to all workers, organised and the unemployed, that as the working class we cannot continue to vote for our worst butchers. Come voting day, we must vote for a Party that will fight for unity of the working class, regardless of symbols of political parties, and organise the working class to challenge capitalist supremacy and its exploitation; a Party of the revolution whose resolve is to organise the working class as a class for itself to pursue the struggle for socialism in South Africa and such a Party is the Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party (SRWP). 

Vote for the SRWP on the 8th of May!

No thieves, no traitors, no interventionists! This time the revolution is for real.”

- Fidel Castro

Aluta continua!

The struggle continues!

Issued by Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary, 7 May 2019