Recently the union convened a National Policy Workshop to discuss research findings on black economic empowerment in the metal industry.
The findings on BEE confirmed what we have always suspected: that employers were not prepared to ensure that African people in particular and blacks in general benefited from socio-economic transformation. When it comes to outsourcing, employers outsource work of a technical nature to their white counter-parts while cleaning goes to BEE companies.
Since 1994 we have made substantial gains in improving working conditions of our members at the workplace. But we have not made a dent with regards to transferring the means of production to the working class. The BEE deals that we read about in the commercial newspapers have thus far benefited only a small section of the population.
SACP discussion paper
The SACP has released a discussion paper meant for its forthcoming National Congress in 2007 that deals with this question as well.
This discussion paper raises a number of theoretical issues that trade unionists and the coming Cosatu provincial and national congresses will have to consider:
To what extent is the working class in particular ready to make a political choice between a vote for the ANC and a vote for the SACP?
What is the future of the Alliance? Must it continue under its present form or should we restructure its operations such that its components are not bound by the national democratic revolution (NDR)?
What is the role of the trade union movement in this unfolding discussion and what choices must we make in the best interests of our members and the working class in general?
On the ANC succession debate
The ANC has also released a discussion paper to inform its members towards the 2007 National Conference. It covers the succession debate and the general theoretical issues of a movement trying to re-position itself in the second decade of our democracy.
It argues among other things that the issue of leadership of the ANC cannot be left to chance. It must be guided by the challenges facing the movement on the political and socio-economic front.
It says the ANC NEC should be expanded to create space for minorities and the trade union movement in particular. It also argues that the ANC has to re-define, in much clearer terms, its relationship with the trade union movement. As members of the ANC we will have to engage with the contents and the political assumptions that this discussion paper makes. Our discussions will have to be guided by principles and theory.
We as Numsa should think about convening a National Policy Workshop and invite the SACP and the ANC to lead us on these important developments.
We should take comfort that the NEC of the ANC that met recently has attempted to a greater extent to resolve the tensions that have characterised the workings of the ANC and its Alliance partners in the recent period. Cosatu has been invited to a bilateral meeting with the ANC at the beginning of July to discuss a range of issues emanating from the Cosatu CEC. Amongst items to be discussed is the Federation’s claim that the country may be drifting towards a dictatorship.
On the international front
In our NEC we presented a detailed report on the WTO trade negotiations and their adverse impact on developing countries. If developed countries win the tariff reductions that they want, we are likely to lose thousands of formal jobs in the economy.
The NEC further resolved that we should among other things develop an organisational campaign on these issues.
It is encouraging that we are beginning to take women’s representation in the union more seriously. It is our collective responsibility as the elected leadership to translate our resolution on women empowerment into concrete and tangible programmes that ensure that the union is truly representative of both genders.
There is a large section of women comrades in our factories who are capable of assuming leadership in the organisation. We challenge you as members and leaders to ensure that we tap on this potential. There can’t be real and meaningful freedom if women are not emancipated at all levels in society, including the trade union movement.
The struggle continues! General SecretarySilumko Nondwangu,