Speech of the WFTU General Secretary George Mavrikos

9th Congress of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

Speech of the WFTU General Secretary George Mavrikos


Amandla! Socialism is the Future! (Build it now)

Viva NUMSA Viva!

The World Federation of Trade Unions, the international trade union organization of the class-oriented trade unions, we are proud to have in our ranks the class-oriented, militant and pioneer NUMSA.

With your history and action, all these 25 years, the metalworkers of South Africa have proven that you have an internationalist, combative trade union.

Your union struggles for the interests of the working people in South Africa and the world.

Your union struggles to open the way for the satisfaction of the contemporary needs of your people.

You elect leaders who come from the working class, who have the values and the principles of the working class.

On behalf of the 82 million workers – members of the WFTU I convey to you the most warm, militant salutation and the most comradely wishes for a successful Congress.

You must never forget that each of your resolutions has a direct impact to the international trade union movement.

– By strengthening the class-oriented and revolutionary characteristics of your union you strengthen the class-oriented revolutionary character of the international trade union movement. You are an important part of this movement.

– By strengthening the struggles in South Africa against the capitalist and the bourgeois policy you strengthen the struggles of the international proletariat.

– By opening the way to socialism and the socialization of the means of production in South Africa you encourage and give a bright example to the international working class for its final victory: the overthrow of capitalism and the abolition of the exploitation of man-by-man. WFTU says a world without workers is impossible. A world without capitalists is necessary. Because the wealth belongs to those who produce it.

– With your moral and practical solidarity to the struggles of the workers of the world and especially

a) to the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people

b) the socialist Cuba,

c) the struggle of the Greek people against the barbaric anti-labor policy
you strengthen the struggle of the international labour movement against the imperialist barbarity and the policy of the monopolies.




The WFTU has a rich history with great contribution to all the significant moments of the international labour movement.

The history of the class-oriented trade union movement was not written in ink. It was written in blood. The blood of the heroes of our class.

A great chapter of this history is dedicated to the common struggles of the WFTU and the heroic SACTU, with Moses Mabhida, Mark Shope, John Gaitsiwe, Moses Kotane, Leslie Massina, J. B. Marks and the living legend Eric Mtshali. All of those comrades were WFTU cadres when times were difficult.

Those and thousands of other militants worked along with WFTU.

We honor and respect those great fighters and follow their example.

Until today, the WFTU’s action was not an easy task.

Besides the class enemies, it had to confront also class friends who forgot their class origin and worked for the capitalists.

They tried to destroy WFTU in 1949 and in 1991. They never stopped trying to change its class-oriented characteristics. But they have not succeeded!

This is why they formed an international organization according to their own standards.

An organization against the real demands of the workers.

An organization that promotes in the labour movement an orientation of defeat.

An organization that wants workers to sit in the same tables with the global mechanisms of imperialism, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).

This organization has supported and continues to support the imperialist struggles against Iraq, Afghanistan, against Libya.

It slanders Cuba.

It undermines the struggle in Palestine.

It has in its leadership the trade union organization of Israel. The Israeli Federation, Histadrut, which has companies that produced weapons for the apartheid regime in South Africa.

This organization is ITUC. It’s the organization that supported the racial trade unions of the white during the apartheid.

This organization cannot change. The life, the experience has proven that those who wanted (or claim they wanted) to change ITUC from the inside… they gradually became identical with it. The same thing!

The bureaucratic mechanisms of the capitalists assimilated them.

Today, some of the leading unions of this organization -from Europe and USA- try with the money of their governments and the capitalists to subordinate the African, the Asian, the Latin workers.

They come with this money in Africa, in Latin America, in Asia, in Arab Area to hold “trade union seminars” and “education projects”, as they call them. The truth is different. The real target is different. You all know their real targets.

I am asking you comrades, what do they want to teach to the workers of Africa, of Latin America, of Asia, of Arab Area?

Im asking you comrades, if you have ever heard that someone of them has organized in his country some important strike during the last fifty years. No important struggle they have organized, no important militant mobilization. They only do seminars on opportunism and reformism.

A discussion that began and ended 60 years ago is back in South Africa.

It is the opinion that WFTU and ITUC should merge. That the international trade union movement must have only one international trade union organization. Some of our comrades want to believe that in capitalist conditions this international trade union organization could be class-oriented.

Those who support this opinion forget that there is class struggle.

They forget that there is opportunism, reformism, petty bourgeoisie that influence the working class. That there is labour aristocracy.

They forget and underestimate the dangerous role of the modern socialdemocracy, of the dirty institutes of socialdemocracy, the money and the corruption of the socialdemocrats.

They forget that the capitalists try to buy out, to corrupt labour masses and trade union leaders.

They forget that there are secret services and agents who continue to work within the trade union movement.

Even if there could be, in capitalism, one international trade union federation and this was class-oriented, the capitalist would start the next minute to build another manipulated international trade union federation.

Our duty, the duty of the class revolutionary forces of the world, is to make WFTU a strong organization.

Because we need a class-oriented world trade union federation. Class-oriented from top to bottom.

We need it to coordinate and lead the struggle of the trade union organizations across the world effectively for every minor and major problem or the working people.

We need an international trade union organization which will organize the internationalist proletarian solidarity within the conditions of the globalization and the activities of the transnational monopolies.

Capitalism, today, can offer nothing more.

Capitalism is experiencing another crisis.

This crisis is deep, long, it affects many countries and it’s spreading to others.

The capitalists are full from the profits.

They find it more difficult to invest with the same percentage of profit they used to get. Some of them lose in the global competition. They are being destroyed. The biggest fish eats the smaller fish.

Today, the capitalists and their governments try to steal even more from the workers and the People. They organize new wars in Africa and the Middle East. They must destroy in order to get rich from rebuilding. Unemployment, poverty, the plundering of whole countries, the environmental disasters are the results of capitalism in its imperialist stage. No form of state intervention or social dialogue can stop this!

The WFTU calls upon the working class for reconstruction.

To fight fire with fire.

For this purpose we invite COSATU to return home, to the WFTU. To the home that your forefathers of SACTU built for the next generations with so many sacrifices.

We invite COSATU to play a pioneer role, a leading role in international level for the construction of the movement we need today.

Today more than ever, we need strong trade unions. We cannot leave any worker un-unionised. We must edify the workers to be fearless towards the employers’ terrorism. To be united against the capitalist plots.

The trade unions we need today must have specific characteristics:

Class oriented and revolutionary organization of workers that always fight against capital and against imperialism.

Unions with working class democracy;

Leadership from the rank of working class; Leadership that respects criticism and self-criticism. Leadership that has proletarian discipline and is committed to fight out bureaucracy and corruption;

No discrimination of workers based on gender, color or religion;

To promote the alliance of workers, farmers, youth and women organizations.

To organize strong international solidarity of working class with the militant struggles conducted in different countries and regions.

To provide class oriented trade union education based on the history of the working class movement for the development of class consciousness and for motivation for class struggle.

With such a trade union movement we can bring closer our strategic objective of a socialist society.

All of us believe that capitalism cannot solve the problems of the working class.

Capitalism produces poverty, unemployment, hunger, privatizations, state violence, wars. Capitalism produces profits for the few and suffering for the people. The needs of the working class will only be completely satisfied in Socialism. Only socialism will liberate us. Let’s built it now.

The working class can become the giant that will sweep away the exploiters.

It is our duty to lead the struggle of the working class to conquest the wealth for the benefit of the whole society.

Our struggle will be victorious!

Viva NUMSA viva

Viva WFTU viva

Long live the International working class!