Comment from the general secretary

Goodbye 2009, welcome 2010!Every football loving African, from all the many beautiful races of the African Continent, must be rejoicing that 2010 is almost upon us! For us in South Africa, especially the black working class, the 2010 FIFA World Cup is an opportunity of a life time.

We will watch the world’s greatest football talents play football on African soil, in our country!The Numsa leadership wishes Bafana Bafana a speedy recovery from their coaching teething troubles, and we hope that they will soon rediscover their scoring and winning ways.

We urge all the working class supporters of soccer to support all Africans teams equally; this is our chance to recover something from the shame that the xenophobic violence against fellow African workers brought upon us.

2010 offers us an opportunity to demonstrate the obvious fact that it is only imperialism which has separated us, and locked us into the factories for the production of cheap labour and extraction of raw materials we today call “African countries”. We must extend a warm welcome to all of the world’s soccer-loving working class who will flock to South Africa.

Capitalist crisis2009 was a tough year. Many of us are happy to see it vanish. We lost thousands of jobs in all the sectors Numsa organises. Many of our members were put on short time, some were forced to accept worthless voluntary severance packages, and yet others simply witnessed the nightmare of watching the companies they were slaving in, collapse.

The ongoing global crisis of capitalism has hit our members very hard. Many families of metalworkers are struggling to make ends meet. They are heavily indebted. They have trouble paying school fees. They cannot afford even a once in a while outing to a restaurant.

They have been reduced to merely admiring the things they produce in the shop windows.Food has become very expensive in our country. Despite all the scheming of the Reserve Bank to keep inflation low in favour of the rich, the working class are suffering from escalating food prices. The cost of transport to and from work is eating a huge chunk into the low wages of the working class. The majority of the working class are working just for food and transport.

There is nothing left to buy electricity and water and pay their rent. We will be considering all these factors as we move into negotiations in the motor, auto and tyre sectors in 2010. Every Numsa member must be ready to fight to improve our wages. Everybody involved in the negotiations must be thoroughly prepared so as to confront the logic of capital at the point of production.

Numsa is not fooled by the premature announcements by the bosses and other representatives of the ruling class concerning the global crisis of capitalism; we know that it will take a long time for real production to pick up and even longer to recover the lost jobs.

In South Africa, even before the ongoing historic global crisis of capitalism hit us, we were sitting on massive unemployment, gross inequalities, deepening poverty and deteriorating social services. Millions of South African workers are trapped in apartheid ghettoes constructed for black and African communities.

They are serviced by inferior health and education facilities. They lack decent housing. They cannot afford the cost of electricity and water. Their children are doomed at birth – they are condemned to an inferior life!

National democratic revolution (NDR)We participate in the alliance in defence of the NDR. We do so to advance and defend the political interests of the working class. We do not do so to be congratulated, or praised, by this or that other class or political formation.

We participate in the mass democratic movement out of a clear working class understanding of the inevitable intersection in our history of class, gender, national oppression and exploitation.For us the struggle to abolish racism in South Africa is the class struggle and vice versa! The struggle to do away with patriarchy (male domination of females) is the class struggle.

The struggle to construct a democratic nation in which all human beings will be constitutionally and legally assumed to be equal, is the class struggle. We make no apologies for taking on political struggles in favour of the working class.

Thus we campaigned successfully for the victory of the ANC-led alliance in the 2009 April national elections. And we continue to push for pro-working class positions all the time in alliance structures.

We look forward to the forthcoming Special Congress of the SACP. We will play our rightful role.

Eskom crisisBefore the capitalist crisis hit us, we were already faced with a very serious problem of power shortages: because the 1996 Class project in government had wanted to privatise our national power utilities, they never invested in the necessary capital, expansion and modernisation programmes, to ensure that today South Africa would have enough power to run its industries and for domestic consumption.

Now they want to hike electricity massively in order to mobilise the money needed to recapitalise ESKOM. This will hit the working class hard as already their wages are stretched between buying food, providing transport, paying school fees and rent.

Numsa will join Cosatu in any action it will take to prevent the further lowering of the already poor living standards of the working class by any attempts to massively increase electricity tariffs. All our members must be ready to fight when the call is made.

Global capitalist crisisSoon after the October 2008 8th Congress of Numsa, the national leadership hit the road running: we have taken on the global crisis of capitalism and its threat to jobs head on. We are happy to note that we have, through ours and the efforts of Cosatu, secured some government commitment to protect jobs by helping companies in trouble.

We have insisted that companies qualifying for government assistance must put a moratorium on retrenchments. We have further worked hard to ensure that workers are given the possibility to be trained and re-skilled, during this period.

The success of these measures will depend on how Numsa and Cosatu monitor the implementation of these programmes.We have demanded the immediate banning of labour brokers. We have made our submissions to parliament. We will use our relationships in the alliance to lobby strongly for a quick end to this abominable labour practice.

We will not rest until labour broking is abolished in South Africa.It is impossible for South Africa to progress towards a developmental state on the basis of macro, micro, and monetary policies that favour money wealth at the expense of industrial and domestic consumption capital.

In the past 15 years or so, South Africa has seen a vast increase in the profits of the bosses, a sharp rise in speculative (casino) economic activity, while at the same time millions of jobs have been lost, the real wages of the working class have declined, and massive poverty and inequality have risen.South Africa has become

THE most unequal country in the world today, replacing Brazil. To reverse these painful trends, Numsa has taken on the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). We are demanding that inflation targeting must be abandoned as it does not promote any job creation and is intended to protect the value of money investments of the rich.

We are demanding that new macro, micro and monetary policies be put in place, in line with the Polokwane Resolutions. Such policies of course must prioritise decent jobs and redistribution of wealth. While the national leadership will continue to engage directly with the SARB and formations of the alliance on these all important matters, if need be,

Numsa members must be ready to take to the streets to enforce these demands at all times.Numsa is demanding that South Africa put in place an industrial strategy and programme to grow decent jobs, and provide for the needs of the working class.

Cosatu 10th CongressWe are proud to record the good work of Numsa and its delegates at the just ended 10th Congress of Cosatu. This Congress was a watershed Congress; it is the first Cosatu Congress after Polokwane and it set very high ideological and leadership standards.

We look forward, together with all other affiliates of Cosatu, to the difficult work of implementing the important Resolutions of this Congress.

Together with Cosatu, for example, we will relentlessly pursue the struggle to abolish labour brokers, we will ensure that workers in the army have their right to organise into trade unions protected, we will struggle to advance pro worker macro, micro, and monetary policies; and above all else, we will work to ensure that all the resolutions on socialism are implemented.

InternationalIn 2009, your union played its part in the international arena. Among others, we attended the International Metalworkers Federation Exco Meetings, we have been part of international solidarity against the notorious government of Mexico that has been brutalising mine workers and the general secretary of these mine workers who had to flee into exile in Canada.

We have made our statement on Climate Change at a recent meeting in Germany. We continue to be well represented in many gender and other international fora.

Every member a recruiterIt is the job of every Numsa member to recruit new members into the union. This is even more important today, as the global crisis of capitalism seeks to weaken our union through the massive job bloodbath. We are working hard to improve how we capture the data of our membership.

We are revamping the membership unit of the union. 2010The national union is undergoing some deep re-engineering and institutional re-tooling to ensure that we grow and develop a Numsa which is always improving its service to its members.

All departments and work units have undergone thorough planning, and look out for changes, especially in 2010! We must simultaneously gear ourselves to confront the bosses through collective bargaining.

HIV/Aids As the holidays approach, all Numsa members must become HIV and Aids ambassadors in our churches, mosques, social clubs, schools, communities and wherever we will be during the festive season.

We must preach the use of condoms, respect for women’s sexual choices, and help all those affected and infected by the pandemic of HIV and Aids. We must encourage voluntary testing. We must combat the stigma around Aids. 2010 promises to be full of fireworks!

Irvin Jim Numsa General Secretary


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