Numsa is a new affiliate of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). In 2010, we resolved to affiliate to the WFTU after three national office-bearers had a bilateral with the WFTU in Athens.
The WFTU is a class-oriented global federation. Our resolve was inspired by Karl Marx, who said: “Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.”
It is now 2012. The South African affiliates of the WFTU have increased to four. Nehawu was joined by Numsa, Ceppawu and Popcru. We now have an Africa office, manned by three comrades deployed by Nehawu, Numsa and Popcru.
Our forebear, the South African Congress of Trade Unions (Sactu), was an affiliate of the WFTU. Moses Mabhida, at some point, was a deputy president of the WFTU.
Mark Shope was based at the WFTU headquarters in Prague from 1963 when Moses Mabhida was needed in Lusaka by the African National Congress. In 1977, Stalin Mtshali was sent to represent Sactu in the WFTU head office on a full-time basis, like Mabhida and Mark Shope before him.
The people I have mentioned are giants of our liberation struggle. On the occasion of the gala dinner that took place on the eve of the historic WFTU presidential council, the WFTU honoured some of them for their role in the trade union movement and their contribution to the freedoms we enjoy today in our country.
The following comrades were honoured, Moses Kotane, JB Marks, Mark Harmel, Moses Mabhida, Eric Mtshali, Mark Shope and Leslie Masina.
As South African workers, we owe a lot to these stalwarts of our movement. Eric Mtshali said that he could not understand a South African union belonging to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), because of the shenanigans of a Mr Kailembo was brainwashed to rubbish all the WFTU work in the African continent in particular.
All recipients of the awards and their families confirmed that the WFTU is the global union that helped the struggle for liberation in this country.
We hosted the successful presidential council from February 9-10 this year in Johannesburg. The print media carried opinion pieces by Terry Bell and RW Johnston on the event. In my view, they were a red herring that linked the WFTU to China and North Korea. Johnston’s article even suggested that, the move flowed from Irvin Jim’s ambitions to become Cosatu general secretary.
How wrong of them to fail to grasp the simple fact that the crisis of capitalism demands that we look for alternatives. For workers, the WFTU provides an alternative point of view. It is clear that this system does not have a human face. It must be destroyed and replaced by a socialist system.
The resolutions of many affiliates of Cosatu and Cosatu itself are more aligned to the WFTU than the ITUC. Cosatu tried to persuade ITUC to pass a resolution on the struggles of the people of Palestine and was rejected.
The WFTU has staged many campaigns on the struggles of the people of Palestine, and Cosatu has passed a resolution on that struggle. The WFTU has called for the release of the Cuban Five and the end to the economic embargo against Cuba, while the ITUC has not done this.
The Bretton Woods institutions have not provided the solutions to the problems of the working class and yet the ITUC addresses these meetings all the time.
Numsa News No 1, April 2012