NUMSA NEC PRESS STATEMENT VMCC, NEWTOWN JOHANNESBURG 1ST JUNE 2011
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has been meeting from the 30th of May 2011 to the 1st of June 2011, at its Conference Centre in Johannesburg.
The 30th of May was devoted to an NEC Political Workshop.
The NEC takes this opportunity to salute all the founding unions, leaders and members of Numsa on the occasion of the 24th Birthday Anniversary of Numsa which fell on May the 17th. At 24, Numsa is a mature union. It remains a strong socialist oriented militant and revolutionary trade union. The NEC is determined to carry forward these traditions of the union.
The NEC received and discussed political, organisational and financial matters as they affect the union. The NEC took time to reflect on the global, African and South African economic, political and social situation. Mindful of the significance of the year 2012 in the political calendar of the liberation movement, the NEC spent time assessing progress on work towards the Numsa 9th Congress next year, on the ANC Centenary Celebrations in 2012, on the ANC Policy Conference in 2012, on the Cosatu, SACP and ANC national congresses and conferences in 2012 as the case may be. Of course the coming Central Committee (CC) of Cosatu this month was discussed.
During all these deliberations, the Numsa NEC was guided by its Marxist-Leninist class analysis traditions. The overriding objective was to understand the world, Africa and South African class balance of forces in order to determine how best to defend the interests of metal workers at the point of production in general and how best to advance the struggles of the working class in particular, during this phase of the global crisis of capitalism.
1. The State of Numsa today Numsa is well and strong, militant and revolutionary as ever! Despite the effects on membership from the on-going global crisis of capitalism and its destruction of jobs in the sectors Numsa organises, we are happy to note that Numsa continues to remain a strong, stable and member driven revolutionary union.
The organisation assessments from the available departmental reports continue to paint a picture of a strong, vibrant and campaigning metal workers union. Numsa will continue to fight for decent jobs, defend existing jobs, and protect the metal worker at the point of production. It will continue to play its revolutionary working class role in society.
The NEC assessed preparations towards our 9th Congress next year and we are happy to note that we are on course to holding a most successful Congress next year. Work to prepare Shopstewards, in particular to increase female leadership in the ranks of the union and attendance and participation at the Congress is underway.
The NEC dealt with the round of collective bargaining under way this year, and noted the inflexibilityof employers who continue to persist in their demand to use labour brokers, to insist on paying slave wages, who are calling for a flexible labour market, who are not willing to recognise the advances in wages and entry level pay for metal workers as in other sectors.
The NEC wishes to place it on record that in the unique South African labour market in which capitalism has historically employed racism to stratify the working class, it is impossible for a revolutionary union like Numsa to settle for wage adjustments which do not simultaneously address the inherited extremely unequal racist wage distribution structure in South Africa.
Numsa is ready and prepared to back its demands by all means necessary! Numsa is determined, through the use of collective bargaining, its position in the liberation movement and its revolutionary traditions and ideology to struggle to contribute to destroying the Apartheid wage system which still survives in South Africa well after 1994.
Numsa demands the abolition of labour brokers, now. Numsa will continue to defend the hard won labour rights in this country. We reject the bosses demand for a flexible labour market.The NEC calls for maximum unity among metal workers in the on-going wage negations.
2. On the state of the World, African and South African capitalist economy and society The NEC noted the persistence of the on-going global economic recession. Fully aware that capitalism itself is a system in permanent crisis, the NEC noted the fact that one major difference with the current global crisis is that it is a deep-seated worldwide systemic and structural crisis whose economic, social and political effects will be felt throughout the world long after the global capitalist system will have moved on to another more devastating crisis! More significantly, the NEC noted the global economic and political impacts of the recession.
Pointedly, the NEC notes that the United States has led in abandoning the extremely discredited neoliberal paradigm of capitalist development which for some time preached the religion of lean and mean states not involved in the economy! Billions of pounds, franks, dollars, Euros and other European and Asian currencies of leading capitalist governments’ moneys have been poured in failed banks and private companies, at the expense of real investments in people such as in medicines, schools, housing, food and such basic necessities. Several European countries have to hassle for massive loans in order to avoid total bankruptcy.
The United States itself is running the largest budget deficit and has historical debt levels that would have completely collapsed any Third World country. Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and so on are on their knees begging for loan bail-outs! Among the most pronounced political effects of the global crisis of capitalism has been the massive global job losses and escalating prices of basic necessities leading to global inequality, mass poverty and the inevitable mass political protests in several countries across the world. In the US, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Greece, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Morocco, Uganda, Swaziland, and so on millions of ordinary workers have been joined by the ruined middle classes and rural populations in street protests against their governments as a direct result of the hardships caused by the global economic recession and crisis of capitalism, and in many instances, made worse by the unbearable political intolerances of their governments. In the absence of a solid organised global Left reaction to the global crisis of capitalism, we have seen how both the US and Western Europe have resorted to the time tested capitalist device of surviving their crisis driven system: punish the working class and the urban and rural poor by killing jobs and cutting on social spending! New and more misery unleashing austerity measures and budgets are being demanded and implemented in all the worst affected countries.
As we speak right now, we know that workers, especially young workers who are the most affected, are protesting in Greece, among many other countries of the world. In almost all these countries the protesting employed and unemployed workers are being met by the brutality of the capitalist state: police, army and media attacks of the working people! The NEC has resolved to use its international unit to learn more about the global protests and how best to offer international solidarity.
3. South Africa South Africa has not been spared from the global capitalist crisis. In fact, this new crisis has simply compounded our already deeply imbedded crisis of Colonialism of a Special Type! South Africa was already the most unequal country on Earth before this new global crisis of capitalism hit us.
All over the country, in our townships and shacks – our national pressure cookers as the SACP so accurately calls them – our people daily have been protesting at their horrible conditions of existence. Mass unemployment, absent or primitive sanitation such as the bucket system, shortage of housing, absence or high costs of electricity, water, food, medical services, schools, and so on in extremely overcrowded and dirty and sewerage overflowing communities are the order of the day for most of our working class communities ashamedly still called “townships” and “shacks”.
Millions of working class children go hungry to horribly inferior schools that lack modern facilities. Thousands of poorly paid, overworked, understaffed and quite often badly prepared educators struggle in overcrowded township class rooms to mimic and compete with the well-resourced, properly staffed, spacious and in sanguine surroundings of the less than 11 percent of the South African school system that supplies more than 70 percent of Matric passes!
After 1994, the NEC noted the stubborn persistence of Colonialism of a Special Type and the continuing Apartheid spatial development patterns in South Africa. Less than 26 percent of the country, largely white, consumes more than 80 percent of what South Africa produces while the rest survive on less than 20 percent.
At the bottom of this food chain, of course the majority are Africans, especially females and youths. Two concentrations mark South Africa: a filthy rich largely white enclave surrounded by a large sea of Black and African people living in Olympic Gold winning levels of poverty and mass destitution.
This racial and geographic phenomenon continues to be reproduced by an un-transformed white dominated South African capitalist system. The mild dilution of the white enclave economy and society by the sprinkling of a few Black and African people has not changed anything; rather, it has merely served to further confirm the extremely racists dependant nature of the South African capitalist system. Thus the struggle against racism in South Africa is simultaneously the struggle to abolish its capitalist foundations.
4. The 18 May Local Government Elections The Numsa NEC congratulates the ANC for a resounding defeat of all the opposition parties combined and singularly, across the country. Once more, the majority of the people of this country, who are workers and urban and rural poor people, have loudly expressed their political support for the ANC.
The Numsa NEC wishes to thank all its members who campaigned and voted for the African National Congress. Numsa wishes to place on record its deep appreciation of the working class of all races who rallied behind the ANC Mayoral candidate in the Western Cape.
Recognising the deeply entrenched nature of the racist capitalist system in the Western Cape, the NEC of Numsa is convinced only a truly full blooded assault on the racist capitalist system in South Africa in general and in the Western Cape in particular will truly unite the majority of the working and middle class behind the revolutionary programme to transform this country into a truly non-racial, non-sexist, classless and democratic society.
The party of monopoly white capital in South Africa – the DA – mocked the ANC and its alliance during the elections. It spat on the Freedom Charter. It mocked the ANC on its claim to be the true bearer of the values Mandela espouses. It made poor working class crowds to sing revolutionary songs for a white male dominated capitalist party.
And it took away a small but significant vote from the ANC. The NEC wishes to note the following, in regard to the local government elections: • We fully back the SACP when it says that there is an urgent need to transform the semi colonial nature of our economy and society and its Apartheid spatial development patterns.
• We reject the false language and false analysis of the type “minorities did not vote for the ANC”! The scientific truth is that these elections perfectly mirror the untransformed Apartheid spatial, racial and semi colonial economy and society of South Africa, notwithstanding the 1994 “democratic breakthrough”.
• Thus we are convinced that the problem is not a simple psychological one requiring that the ANC make itself a “brand” psychologically appealing to “minorities” as many would like us to believe. That amounts to dangerous racial profiling!
• The ANC and its alliance must simply acknowledge the most obvious fact: unless revolutionary measures are taken to bring down, countrywide, the Apartheid racist economy and society, the ANC might as well kiss goodbye to its lofty ideal of a non-racial South Africa.
• South African racism is an integral part and an economic foundation of South African capitalism. To genuinely defeat South African racism will require destroying its racist origins and foundations in the South African economy. Numsa is dedicated to this long term revolutionary objective.
• Numsa will be discussing the possibility to use the ward demarcation process to begin to undo the artificial and racist spatial distribution of resources and the populations of South Africa.
We will demand that time has come to combine the centre and periphery located wards into integrated wards – after all, in the last elections the party of white monopoly capital sent a clear message that white capitalist in South Africa are now ready to kiss and live side by side with their Black and African fellow human beings!
• Numsa will demand the acceleration of the densification programme of mixed income settlement patterns in all our cities and towns. This makes good economic, social, cultural and non-racial sense; it cannot be that 17 years after formal democracy was won, Black and African workers continue to suffer the huge burden of subsidising capital by footing the transport bill of the worker to remote working places and are far removed from superior social services. It is time to live close to one’s workplace and together, enjoy the good social amenities!
• All South African cities, towns and rural settlements have been globally condemned as the most unequal in the world, rivalling Brazil! Numsa will be seeing how together with Cosatu, the SACP and the ANC and progressive civil society formations, a comprehensive revolutionary programme to combat income, rental, and housing inequality in all our cities, towns and rural settlement is drawn up and implemented.
• The ANC cannot hope to compete and win, with the DA, in the post 1994 shallow right wing ideology of “service delivery” in the South African situation. No meaningful “service delivery” cannot take place in the working class dormitories called “townships” and “shacks” with their inferior and decayed and or absent social infrastructures.
• Numsa will be looking to work with Cosatu, the SACP and the ANC to ensure that the alliance drives its revolutionary programme of the National Democratic Revolution as contained in its local government Manifesto and through the destruction of the inherited racist semi colonial economy and society of South Africa, achieves full capacity to provide equally for all the population of South Africa what local government must deliver.
5. The relationships between the SACP, Cosatu, Numsa and Sadtu The NEC noted the press statement from the YCL in which it makes allegations against Cosatu, Numsa and Sadtu. While it is so tempting to feed the South African media with very valuable material for publishing by directly responding to the unfounded allegations, the NEC of Numsa will rather seek to engage directly with the leadership of both the SACP and the YCL, over the allegations raised by the leadership of the YCL.
As we head towards 2012 and its extremely important and sensitive political events in all the key formations of the liberation movement in this country, our humble advice to our fellow revolutionary formations is to be very careful not to fall prey to the temptation to allow the media to determine the agenda and programmes, let alone to define the parameters and content of the debates and discussions the liberation movement must engage in next year.
Numsa remains loyal and faithful to its belief that the South African Communist Party is its political vanguard party. We will thus not be drawn into a media war with it. Numsa has an agreement, this year, with the South African Communist Party.
We will be looking forward to running the joint political education programme. Again, we thank all the people of South Africa who voted for the ANC, and through their vote, once more demonstrated their faith in this almost 100 years old revolutionary movement and its National Democratic Revolution Programme!
Issued by NUMSA NEC Contact: Irvin Jim, General Secretary – 073 157 6384 Cedric Gina, President – 083 633 5381
Numsa Press Release