Numsa Press Statement on the ongoing capitalist global financial crisis and the state of the Alliance and the revolutionary responsibilities of the working class – 12 November 2008

* On the global capitalist financial crisisWe the leaders of Numsa are happy to inform all our members and the people of this beautiful country, South Africa, that we are on course to translate into a Four Year Master Programme all the Resolutions of our 8th National Congress which was held from the 13th to the 16th of October, 2008, in Vanderbijlpark, Sedibeng Municipality.

As we said at the Congress, we will build on the proud legacy and work of all our past leaders in general, and more specifically, on the outgoing national leadership of NUMSA.

We will jealously guard our trade union from any anti-working class and anti-trade union tendencies and influences, and we will always work to ensure that shop floor interests of our members are always supreme.

It is in this regard that we wish to send a very clear message to all our employers and the government that everything must be done to ensure that no worker loses a job because the capitalists of the world have corruptly and criminally mismanaged their global financial system.

We, the revolutionary working class of South Africa have always known that the global capitalist system will never deliver us from our poverty, joblessness, homelessness, hunger and all the other inhumane treatments it continues to inflict upon us.

Further, we have always known that the global capitalist system is crisis driven. We are not surprised because of the use of criminal accounting systems and the invention of fake money through "derivatives" and the subprime lending practices.

The current capitalist financial crisis first began deep in the heart and womb of capitalism itself, the United States of America, and rapidly spread to its original village in Western Europe.

This crisis is now well upon us, in South Africa. We are everyday witnessing extreme fluctuations in the value of the Rand relative to global currencies.

In fact, these fluctuations make a total mockery of Tito Mboweni's comical efforts at "inflation targeting" because Tito is so small and very far away from the forces that are manipulating our economy and currency.

We know that many employers who long ago decided to retrench workers in order to increase their profits by reducing the wage bill will try to use the ongoing financial crisis of capitalism to carry out their inhuman intentions.

To such employers we say we as NUMSA will fight to the bitter end to secure the employment of our members, protect their hard won wages and other conditions of service, and do whatever it takes to ensure that the South African economy is transformed in the interests of the working people and poor rural populations of this country.

Further, we wish to advise the South African government to take immediate measures to ensure that workers' pension funds and all workers' bank deposits are secured and protected from the global financial meltdown.

There is no alternative to state control and regulation of banks and financial flows. The US itself and all European countries have abandoned the idea of the anarchy of the free market – they are putting in place controls and nationalizing banks. 

On the Alliance Economic SummitWe at NUMSA welcome the recent Alliance Economic Summit and its outcomes.

In particular, we applaud the Summit for resolving that an Alliance Task Team be created to complete the work of reviewing our current macroeconomic policies and make detailed recommendations that will take forward the 14 Pillars of the Polokwane Economic Transformation Resolution and all the economic policy resolutions of the last SACP and COSATU Congresses.

This is as it should be. Among other things, such a review will ensure that post 2009, South Africa adopts a job-led economic growth path that simultaneously begins to undo our inherited rural and urban apartheid economic and social geography.

Further, such an economic trajectory will ensure that measures are installed for real redistribution of wealth in South Africa, and that accelerate the transformation of all our social sectors especially education and health.

We at NUMSA take great exception to the comments made recently by our Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel, when he advised that any talk of a shift to the Left after the 2009 elections will be tantamount to abusing working and poor people of this country, presumably by giving unemployed and poor people false hope that the government can and will do things that will create jobs on a massive scale.

We find Trevor Manuel's thinking extremely strange, especially in the light of what the US, European and Asian governments have done to bail out capitalists.

At a global level, we find it impossible to understand why Manuel thinks similar actions cannot be taken to bail out billions of workers and poor people who need in fact a very small fraction of the huge amounts of money the governments of capitalist countries are making available to already rich people to continue to make money.

Why does Trevor Manuel think that it is morally and economically right to throw massive sums of money to save banks from collapsing but it is impossible and foolish to spend less amounts of money to create real wealth and real jobs for unemployed workers and poor people?Why has Manuel become such a fanatical believer in a capitalist system at a time when its original inventors have abandoned it?

The answer clearly lies in understanding the South African class to which Manuel has since graduated, from 1994 onwards. Manuel is now a champion, clearly, of the project to modernize South African capitalism, even if it does not make sense to do so anymore!

Anyone familiar with the levels of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, hunger, desperate destitution of millions of South Africans will agree that in fact we should never have abandoned the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), and we should have, starting from 1994, begun by implementing large scale social economic emergency measures to lift millions of South Africans out of their conditions of unemployment and poverty.

South Africa is an abnormal country in which millions starve every day, not because there is no wealth and the possibility to employ everyone, but because people like Trevor Manuel continue to preach and practice a failed capitalist ideology.

On our part, as NUMSA, we pledge to make our contributions through the relevant Alliance structures to lift our people out of joblessness and poverty. We will actively participate in the Task Teams to be set up by the Alliance.

On the state of the Alliance and the ANCIn our 8th Congress, we resolved to continue to support the African National Congress led Alliance and to work to ensure that it secures a further mandate to govern South Africa in the 2009 elections.

This position was arrived at after all our locals, regions and Congress itself democratically deliberated on this matter.Therefore, it is now the democratic responsibility of all at NUMSA to defend, advance and publicly champion this resolution.

It is in this regard that we wish to advise all our members and staff who were all afforded the opportunity to debate and contribute to the resolution before and during Congress, to regard the "Shikota Conference" for what it is: an assembly organized on behalf of the Black and African elite in cahoots with White monopoly capital in South Africa to save their version of "democracy" – a democracy in which the poor and working class have been in a perpetual crisis of poverty, unemployment with outrageous deepening inequalities.

The chief shop stewards of this capitalist project – Terror Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa – have consistently defended the interests of capital against the working and poor people of this country, from the time they first stepped into government.

The capitalist project they represent was temporarily disturbed and disrupted in Polokwane, but not defeated at a class level.Now they are regrouping in the name of "defending our democracy and constitution".

We know in whose class interests they want to defend "democracy and the constitution": now that they are facing the prospect of being thrown into the class of millions of poor and unemployed people because they no longer are embedded in the state, they seek to destroy the ANC of the poor and working peoples and in its place, put in a political party of the rich.

We know there is a lot of work to be done to undo the damage Lekota, Shilowa, Mluleki George and their type did to the Alliance in general and the ANC in particular over the past 15 years, and further, we have no illusions about the many challenges the working class will continue to face within and without the ANC, but at this moment, as our Congress said, we remain convinced that it is important to defend, advance and protect the gains of Polokwane and the ANC and its Alliance.

NUMSA NEC registered its extreme concern about the letter sent to the president of the ANC comrade Jacob Zuma, by the then ex-honorable president of the republic comrade Thabo Mbeki, whose letter ended up in the hands of Terror Lekota.

The NUMSA NEC is of the view that the time has come that this stalwart leader of our movement, a loyal and dedicated member for 52 years must tell the public where he stands on this 'Shikota' neo liberal counter-revolutionary tendency.

NUMSA is of the view that revolutionary principles, revolutionary commitment not only to our people but in memory of all those métiers, revolutionary cadres of our movement who died in defence of the ANC, such a legacy compels all members of the ANC and all those who claim to be loyal members of the ANC including comrade Thabo Mbeki to defend the ANC now and declare where they stand in defence of the organization.

The ANC is what our people have; it must be defended. All loyal cadres must go out and campaign for its election victory, discussions and grievances can only be handled after victory has been secured that in our view is the line.

Anyone who wants to place conditions before executing such a task, such an act is anti-ANC it can't be tolerated from any cadre of the movement regardless of his history.

Numsa NEC took the same stance against its respected ex-general secretary Moses Mayekiso.

It said that it would forever respect his contribution in building our union remembering that he was elected during the dark days of apartheid in prison under the slogan (khululu Mayekiso, khululi nkokheli)However the NEC resolved that Numsa will forever study history in order to understand the present, and Numsa as an organization will forever teach its members to use their tools of analysis in understanding the environment and they must forever go beyond the appearance of individuals.

In this regard the NEC resolved that while it respected Mayekiso's democratic right to join 'Shikota', it resolved to remove his name from the conference centre named after him.

We must judge people not only by history but by their actions. Numsa local structures were tasked to bring a name in the coming central committee to rename Numsa's conference centre.

On COSATU and the SACPWe must all defend our COSATU and its leaders. We must defend and grow our South African Communist Party which lately the representatives of capital among us have come to hate viciously.

These formations have proven themselves as consistent defenders of the poor and the working class in this country.

NOBs strategic planning retreatThe National Office Bearers (NOBs) of NUMSA will present in the coming central committee a comprehensive four year master plan that encapsulated resolutions taken in the national congress, and how do we intend to take up shopfloor struggles in the interest of our members, and the broader working class of our country.

Thank you.Irvin JimNumsa General SecretaryFOR INFORMATIONNumsa-organised companies affected by retrenchmentsNumsa organises in four key sectors:* auto assembly* engineering* motor retail* tyreSome sectors are currently affected by retrenchments and we envisage that more might be affected as the effects of the global crisis reach our shores.

Auto assembly sector:GMSA, PE June 2008 – 312 workers retrenched June 2008 – notice of the retrenchment of 562 hourly paid and 20 salaried employeesFord Section 189A consultations in terms of the LRA are taking place over +200 jobs in Port Elizabeth and +700 jobs in Silverton.

The company is proposing voluntary severance packages (VSPs) for members which tend to tempt older, less skilled workers who can least afford to be retrenched since their poor skills render them unlikely to find other jobs.

Toyota The company has discontinued its production of Hi-Aces. This could lead to retrenchments. * Motor retail sector:No finite figures but because of the downturn in vehicle sales – the entire motor retail sector is affected in sales, service and parts businesses.

So far these retrenchments are the direct result of the internal crisis of high food prices and high interest rates causing massive repossesions.We envisage that once the global crisis in Ford, GM and other car companies hits this country this will result in further retrenchments in the auto assembly sector setting off a ripple effect on component supplier companies in the motor component manufacturing sector.

It is generally agreed that every 1 job in an auto assembly company, creates 5 in the component manufacturing, service and sales sector. So this should be true of the reverse and destroy jobs at a rate of 5 for every auto assembly job lost.*

EngineeringMittal Steel was the first to announce a cut back in production. At Mittal, Saldanha Bay which is export-dependent, about 400 workers will be put on extended leave over Christmas to try and deal with the reduced demand globally.

Other resources companies organized by Numsa are also expected to be affected. No finite figures are available yet.Major parts of the engineering industry are suppliers to the mining industry.

As the mining industry continues to announce thousands of retrenchments, we envisage that retrenchments and short-time will increase in these mining-supply companies.

The full picture will only become clearer as time progresses.For further information contact:Mziwakhe Hlangani, Numsa national spokespersonCell phone: 082 940 7116E-mail : 011 689 1700


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