July 6, 2012

1. We, the members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) under the banner of the NUMSA Youth Forum and joined by the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) as constituted by the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL), Young Communist League (YCL), South African Students’ Congress (SASCO) and the Congress of South African Students’ (COSAS) have been patiently waiting for the outcomes of the Public Hearings convened by Parliaments portfolio committee on Labour, on the burning issue of Labour Brokers.

2. We have assembled here inspired by the generation that assembled at the Congress of the People in Kliptown, 57 years ago, which crafted the Freedom Charter, a Freedom Charter that carries aspirations and continues to be a beacon of hope for the working masses of our people and the youth of South Africa.

3. We are also gathered here inspired by the militancy and radicalism of the heroic generation of 1976 that had to pay the supreme price for our freedom.

4. We are here representing a significant number of both the unemployed, employed and studying youth of our country to demand from our own government that labour brokers be banned and the proposed youth wage subsidy be scrapped.

5. We make these demands to the government of the ANC which has been entrusted with power for over 18 years, since the 1994 democratic breakthrough.

We are fully aware that the ANC government MUST adhere to the Freedom Charter’s injunction “the people shall govern” as we make these two most urgent demands today.

6. We live in the midst of high levels of poverty, escalating crisis of unemployment and deepening income inequalities, mainly affecting the working class and the poor of our country, with the working class youth at the receiving end of this triple crisis.

This crisis is a direct product of the continuing Colonialism of a Special Type in our country – a situation in which the bulk of our wealth is monopolised by the white population and imperialism while the Black and African majority continue to wallow in mass unemployment, poverty and inequalities.

7. We have decided to use our mass power to demand from our people’s government, a government that enjoys popular support from the vast majority of our people as evidenced by the successive electoral victories of our movement, the African National Congress (ANC) to decisively act, given the massive parliamentary power the ANC enjoys to introduce revolutionary measures geared towards denting or reversing the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequalities as faced by our people after 18 years of our nascent democratic dispensation, and not the useless and piecemeal youth wage subsidy and the supper exploitative labour brokeing.

8. We are clear as the young workers, the unemployed and studying youth that the 1994 democratic breakthrough and ascendency of the ANC to corridors of power gave us only the political crown without the economic jewellery.

9. It is within this context that the ANC’s 1969 Morogoro resolve makes absolute sense: “in our country – more than in any other part of the oppressed world – it is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of wealth of land to the people as a whole. It is therefore a fundamental feature of our strategy that victory must embrace more than formal democracy.

To allow the existing economic forces to retain their interests intact is to feed the root of racial supremacy and does not even represent the shadow of liberation”.

10. We firmly believe that the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequalities, as faced by the working class and the poor, and the youth being mostly affected, will not be resolved if the ANC and the government it leads do not adhere to the ANC’s resolve in Morogoro.

Otherwise the ANC and the government will be setting itself for failure, as we can see through daily service delivery protests, factory riots by workers for fair and equal redistribution of wealth at the point of production, and growing dissenting voices amongst the youth for decent jobs and free, quality public education.

11. As the youth in factories, squatter camps, villages, Townships, schools, institutions of higher learning, and on the streets of opulent suburbs, we demand from our own government and the ANC we love so dearly that Labour Brokers must be completely banned.

They are nothing more than human traffickers, making huge profits by hiring out, especially vulnerable youth, to their client companies as if we are more than commodities like office furniture or stationery.

12. These Labour Brokers are undermining the very government’s efforts of creating decent work and sustainable livelihoods as expressed by the ANC’s electoral commitments in 2009.

13. In the post-apartheid and capitalist embedded South Africa in which low wages and being bonded to Labour Brokers continues to be the burden and suppresses the wages of the majority of workers who are Black and African, it is hard to understand why a revolutionary national liberation movement and the democratically elected government that enjoys popular support and could hesitate to ban Labour Brokers.

14. Our demand for the total ban of Labour Brokers is consistent with the demand of the Freedom Charter, the over-arching policy document of the ANC which it adopted in its 1959 National Conference.

This is what the Freedom Charter says “child labour, compound labour, the tot system and contract labour shall be abolished”.

15. We are also angry that the National Treasury has been captured and is being used as a proxy for white monopoly capital and apartheid apologists’ economic interests as agitated and propagated by the Democratic Alliance (DA).

16. This flirting between the DA and the National Treasury as led by Minister Pravin Gordham to advance economic policies that are not in line with the pro-poor policies adopted by the ANC at its 52nd National Conference held in 2007, Polokwane, Limpopo, is a political disaster.

This makes the ANC the same as our class enemies or opponents as represented by white monopoly capital mouthpiece and apartheid apologists, the DA.

17. We are vehemently opposed to the Youth Wage Subsidy as proposed by the DA and Minister Gordham. Our opposition is not only informed by our ideological position, but is also informed by international experiences.

18. What is being proposed by the DA and the National Treasury has failed to address youth unemployment in the United Kingdom, Colombia, Germany, just mentioning few countries.

19. The UK’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in its submission on the Youth Wage Subsidy in 2009, made the following conclusions; “our conclusion is that this is not feasible, cost-effective or sustainable for us.

We also know, based on our experiences of the 1970’s that these schemes can create distortions and companies taking necessary action to restructure or retrain to ensure their survival and success in the future, leading to failure and redundancies when the subsidy is removed”.

20. The above conclusions are in line with our observations or analysis that the Youth Wage Subsidy will be abused by capitalist bosses for their own accumulation interests and profits.

This will lead to massive retrenchments in factories of old workers, in favour of young workers who will be underpaid and faced with volumes’ of work on daily basis.

21. The Youth Wage Subsidy will further under rights enjoyed by workers for bargain for better wages and improved conditions of employment.

Furthermore, the Youth Wage Subsidy will erode young workers to decent wages as enjoyed by permanent workers in line with collective agreements reached between workers representatives and employer bodies.

22. We strongly believe that the Youth Wage Subsidy is not the solution to the crisis of youth unemployment in our country.

23. We need revolutionary political will from our elected leaders and a change of mindset. Our country needs a decisive shift or break from the current GEAR and embedded neoliberal economic policies into radical and revolutionary economic policies, which places the creation of decent work and eradication of poverty at the centre of governments programme and action.

24. The pro-poor economic policies adopted in Polokwane provide a base to shift the country away from the country crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequalities.

25. We expect nothing else, but a positive response within 7 days of the receipt of this Memorandum of Demands!

26. Backward Never, Forward Ever!

Presented on behalf of NUMSA and NUMSA Youth Forum by:
Received on behalf of Minister(s) of Labour and Finance by:
In East London, on the 6th July 2012, Eastern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa (RSA).


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