From the Shopfloor: Women continue to be abused!

Women continue to be abused!As women’s day celebrations are now over and we wait for August 9 2007, poor women continue to be abused. After perusing the secretariat report to the 7th Numsa National Congress, I have a concern. Under the status of women in Numsa, it is stated that the union is also not able to assess what is the potential for the recruitment of women workers.

It states further that most women are located in low skilled, low paid jobs in the industry. What are these statements alluding to? Are we saying that the recruitment of women with low paid jobs has no potential because after the deduction of trade union levies, they will be left with almost nothing, or are we saying that after the deduction of the levies, women in low paid jobs will not substantiate the representation that they will be entitled to demand.

Bullet point 4 of the proposal tasked the research officer to research how many women workers we have in different sectors. I am sure many of us in Numsa will appreciate that result and since National Congress, what has been done and can be done to advance women in Numsa?

In the meantime, poor women continue to suffer abuse at work. Take PKF Electronics in Umbilo, Durban. When I sought Paulina Moladi, the Numsa shop steward, I was told that she had resigned from work and was no longer involved with Numsa. There is no support for female shop stewards at all and the worker now responds to the crack of the capitalist whip. Even the one male Numsa shop steward left there is as silent as a mouse in a corner. Organisers within Numsa need to do the job they were employed to do instead of looking for opportunities to get a seat at the table of the capitalists’ feast!

Francois Quarrie,Isipingo local

The so-called new workerThe issue of a new worker should have been addressed by now because this matter has been long in the debate of the organisation. It makes me worried that we have not located this kind of a worker within the content of the revolution. The issues that comrade Tladi raised (in Numsa News no 6 2006) are important but he fails to contextualise them to ensure that they find expression within the class content.

On the basis that we understand that there are two contending forces within our revolution, we should be able to redirect the thinking of the so-called new worker into understanding the class contradictions that perpetuate their misery of not enjoying the life they seek to enjoy. It is our responsibility as comrades that understand the revolution to engage the so-called new worker. Research won’t do that. It will only tell him what he already knows.

There are simple issues that we need to address in order to ensure that we remain a revolutionary trade union inclusive of the so-called new worker eg

proper induction to the trade union
distribution of the propaganda machinery
ideological education

It might be important to discuss the issue of material benefits of being a member of a trade union but in my opinion that’s where we miss the boat. I believe it’s important to always remember that workers join a trade union because they are exploited by capital and the union becomes their hope of untangling these shackles of exploitation. Our complacency in continuing to defend, consolidate and advance these basic principles of joining a trade union will result in the issues that Tladi raises which are in fact signs of frustration. We must not point fingers to the so-called new worker but rather to our failure to ideologically locate their interest within the broad framework of the revolution. It is important that we do not undermine the power that arises through the weapon of theory. We have failed as an organisation to provide the necessary theory as a weapon to instil content to the perceived interest of the so-called new worker.

The issue that these new workers are seeking is economic balance which is no different in my view from the current mission of our revolutionary trade union. The question that we should be asking ourselves as leaders is: Do we have the ideological fibre to engage on these matters on the ground both theoretically and practically rather than being armchair critics who are unable to see the connection in these struggles for human dignity?

That’s what the so-called new worker is seeking which is no different from what we have struggled for and are still struggling for. We cannot as an organisation fall into the trap that does not exist but is created by our utterances due to our failure to translate the current conjuncture of the revolution. There is no struggle within the struggle among the working class and that should be clear. The enemy of the working class is capitalism. We should not therefore create other enemies which will deter us from our main mission of destroying capitalism. I want to close this debate with an extract from the “Philosophy and class struggle” which reads as follows: “No matter how passionately we hate oppression and wish to see things change, there is only one force capable of eliminating colonialism, capitalism and reaction and that is the oppressed and exploited masses led by an organisation of revolutionaries.”

I believe it’s not wrong to call Numsa a revolutionary trade union but whether it has revolutionaries that have the capability to contextualise the perceived issues of the so-called new worker is another debate altogether.One worker, one enemy!

Xolisile Copiso, Queenstown local

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