NUMSA MAY DAY STATEMENT
01 MAY 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is celebrating Workers Day today together with the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU). On this day we take stock of our achievements and our challenges as the working class and we honour our fallen heroes and renew our commitment to fight for a living wage and improved conditions for workers in South Africa, and all over the world.
On the 1st of May 1950 the South African Communist Party called for a May Day strike to protest against the Suppression of Communism Act. The Suppression of Communism Act, banned the South African Communist Party, and gave the government the power to ban publications that promoted the objectives of communism. The strike resulted in the death of 18 workers who were killed through police violence. These attacks on the working class were a hallmark of the racist National Party government which was in power at the time. We want to honour these workers and the black and African working class in general for the sacrifices that they made to defeat the oppressive Apartheid government.
On this day, we also renew our commitment to the struggle for the total emancipation of the world working class from the tyranny of the world capitalist system. As NUMSA, we pledge to leave no stone unturned in our struggle to forge the political weapon of the working class: the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party, and to win political power for the working class.
THE APARTHEID STRUCTURE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN ECONOMY REMAINS INTACT
Twenty four years after the end of Apartheid the African majority has empty political power, while real state power and ownership of the land and the means of production remain in white capitalist hands and imperialism.
The basic racist and colonial capitalist economic structure and society of South Africa has not changed. We live in a white monopoly capital dominated society and the colonial status of African people in relation to white people has not changed. Furthermore the ANC government has pursued macro-economic neo-liberal policies like Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR), and the National Development Plan (NDP) which have worsened the conditions of the black and African working class. More than 50 per cent of the population lives in abject poverty, 36 per cent of the population is unemployed and South Africa is the most unequal society in the world.
THE GOVERNMENT HAS BECOME AN OPPRESSOR OF THE WORKING CLASS
On this May Day we cannot ignore the fact that the journey to real political and economic freedom for the Black and African Working class is far from over. Today this black government, led by the ANC, and which rose to power because of the sacrifices of the African working class majority, has itself, become an oppressor of the working class.
Today, the ANC government is attacking the working class by proposing poverty national minimum wages of R20, R18, R15 and R11 per hour, depending upon the sector of employment. The state wants to legalize slave wages for the black and African working class in order to sustain White Monopoly Capital’s super exploitation of black and African labour.
The South African White Monopoly dominated economy is founded upon the racist super exploitation of African labour. The ANC, a black government which was elected into power by the working class, spits on the graves of the very same black and African working class heroes by perpetuating the suffering of Africans in its defense of White Monopoly Capital and their proposed poverty National Minimum Wage.
In a further insult to the working class, the ANC together with the support of the leadership of its alliance partners of COSATU and the SACP are changing the labour laws to limit the right to strike. The working class paid with their lives for the right to strike under Apartheid. This is the cruel betrayal of the black and African working class by the ANC and its formations. The ANC has also increased VAT, refused to ban labour brokering and commercialized our freeways through Etolls.
On the 25th of April 2018 under the banner of SAFTU and all its affiliates, NUMSA the largest trade union in the country, participated in a national shutdown and strike. Together with hundreds of thousands of working masses nationwide we marched in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and the Eastern Cape to demand a living wage and to defend the right to strike. In all the major towns and cities they shut down the country in a demonstration of raw working class power.
Thousands of farmworkers in the Western Cape downed tools, as did workers in all the major cities of the Western Cape, Durban, Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape.
The working class has made it clear that we will not accept a poverty wage as proposed by the ANC’s National Minimum Wages. We demand a genuine National Minimum Wage which must be a living wage, today. We will not accept any National Minimum Wage which perpetuates the racist and colonial wage structure in post 1994 South Africa. We are not willing to compromise on this anymore. We are fed up with the ANC governments’ relentless assaults on black and African working class living conditions.
We demand that the proposed amendments to the labour laws be scrapped, and we reject, with contempt, the attempt to limit the right to strike. The ANC government has shown that it is very brutal to the African working class. In August 2012 they massacred striking miners in Marikana for demanding a just wage of R12,500. It is in honour of the Marikana Martyrs that we will continue with mass mobilization until our demands are met. No other compromise is acceptable.
We support the substance of the statement released by the landless peoples organization, Abahlali Basemjondolo, who declared the 27th of April “Unfreedom Day” because the lives of the working class majority have not fundamentally changed since the end of Apartheid. They said:
“We reject any so-called ‘freedom’ without access to land; the right to the cities; basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity; decent housing; accessible quality education; safe and affordable public transport; proper health care; safety in the streets and in our homes; and the right to participate in all decision making that affects our lives and communities. For as long as we, the majority of black people, are still living below the breadline we are not free.”
NUMSA believes that as long as the working class majority does not own land, we cannot be free. We demand land expropriation without compensation. We are skeptical of the ANC’s agenda on this because on the one hand they claim that they support land expropriation, but they are brutal against land occupiers. If they were genuine, then they would cease harassing and arresting those who occupy land, and instead, support them and accelerate their actions.
Furthermore what we need is to nationalise all the commanding heights of the economy and all its minerals and place them under worker control. If we do this we can diversify the South African economy and build new sectors, to create jobs that would pay a genuine living wage. This can not happen under the failed ANC policies of GEAR and the NDP.
We need an expansionary working class budget to tackle high levels of poverty and inequality, and not more austerity measures. We need a revolutionary working class socialist state that will intervene in the economy in the interests of the working class majority. We must nationalize the Reserve Bank and move away from inflation targeting and maintenance of high interest, and instead, pursue a job led industrial strategy.
Today, the state has been reduced to protecting white wealth and it does so at the expense of the African working class majority.
THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTIONARY WORKERS PARTY WILL BE LAUNCHED THIS YEAR
For as long as the majority of black and African people are still living below the poverty line there is no freedom. The class struggle continues, and therefore NUMSA has no choice but to organize the working class as a class for itself and to crystalize a revolutionary socialist workers party whose mission and task is to fight in the interests of the working class. We must raise working class levels of consciousness in order to overthrow capitalism. A system of greed will be replaced by a Socialist system that advances humanity.
The past 24 years have clearly shown that the working class must lead and drive its own emancipation and liberation, for Socialism. No one can save them, they must save themselves. NUMSA will be surfacing the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) before the end of this year. We have been working very hard on the ground setting up structures for the formation of the party. The (SRWP) will be a formidable revolutionary Socialist weapon for the working class and their families. It’s role is to serve them and their interests, and lead them to Socialism. The SRWP will finish the work of the revolution, which was abandoned by the ANC and its alliance partners.
The struggle continues!
Issued by Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary, 1 May 2018