NUMSA National Executive Committee Statement
(22-24 May 2013)
26 May 2013
The National Executive Committee of Numsa met from May 22 to May 24 at the Birchwood Conference Centre. It was attended, as usual, by worker delegates from Numsa’s 9 Regions, representing our 320,000 members. The NEC received and discussed political, socio-economic, international, organisational and financial reports from the National Office Bearers.
In opening the NEC, the Numsa President reflected that Numsa’s 26th anniversary takes place in the midst of serious challenges in the Alliance and Cosatu in particular. The Cosatu CEC next week will be a very challenging meeting. The forum of Affiliate Presidents and General Secretaries has not been of assistance since the CEC of February 2013. Nor is the Cosatu President assisting the resolution of the problems confronting the federation.
In this Declaration and Statement we will:
A. Reflect on the condition of our growing union
B. Outline our approach to the forthcoming Cosatu CEC
C. Express our unhappiness with the recent history of the Alliance and outline our perspective on the 2014 national elections
D. Reflect on the success of our campaign on the National Development Plan and explain how we intend to take it forward
E. Make some observations on the state of the South African economy and society.
F. Report on developments to date in Collective Bargaining
G. Reflect on key international issues
A. Numsa is growing bigger and stronger!
We celebrate our Unity
We want to start by celebrating our unity, as Numsa. Our unity is not about individuals. It is deeply rooted in a clear, political, revolutionary perspective. Our perspective is the interests of the workers we represent, the youth, the extremely marginalized working class and the poorest of the poor in our society.
We believe this perspective represents the true character of the national liberation movement during the Apartheid Struggle, as captured in the Freedom Charter. We see the continuity of the Freedom Charter, from Kliptown in 1955 to Morogoro in 1969, to the Green Book in 1979.
In Numsa we are reminded that the ANC once pronounced how it relates to Socialism. We have noted the following message from the Commission which produced the ANC’s Green Book of 1979:
No member of the Commission had any doubts about the ultimate need to continue our revolution towards a socialist order; the issue [whether the ANC should publicly commit itself to the socialist option] was posed only in relation to the tactical considerations of the present stage of our struggle.
Numsa does not suggest that the ANC is a Socialist Formation but we wish to point out that the ANC in history has never been anti Socialist nor has it ever been pro-Capitalist. Numsa understand the ANC to be a disciplined force of the Left and a working class biased liberation movement. In fact all Strategy and Tactic documents of the ANC in history have recognized and acknowledged the working class as the motive force in the National Democratic Revolution. It is in this regard that we expect the ANC to act in the best interest of workers and the broader working class and to dump anti working class policies such as labour broking, e-tolling, youth wage subsidy, etc, etc, and of course the NDP.
We call for the movement to implement a programme in favour of the working class and the poor
In our view the National Liberation Movement has been robbed of its revolutionary content and character.
As we have said before, the structure of the South African economy remains dominated by the interests of the Minerals Energy Complex and Finance Capital.
We continue to call for measures to support broad-based industrialisation as well as nationalisation of key strategic sectors to realise the vision of the Freedom Charter. We continue to build a solid, vibrant, consistent, militant and campaigning metalworkers union.
B. Cosatu CEC
Forward to mass action
Our delegates will take a mandate to the forthcoming Cosatu CEC to fix the date when we are taking the working class to the streets to fight for our demands, in line with Cosatu’s section 77 disputes. We will propose to the CEC that Cosatu must call for a stay away on this platform:
• Scrap e-tolling,
• Ban labour brokers,
• Dump the NDP and GEAR
• Implement the Freedom Charter,
• Scrap import parity pricing,
• Take ownership and control of the commanding heights of the economy,
• Take ownership and control of our national wealth
• Implement measures to champion manufacturing and industrialisation of the South African economy.
We call for working class unity in Cosatu
The NEC has noted with serious concern that, in the midst of a crisis for the working class, Cosatu is deliberately being paralysed. The mining industry is in crisis and is severely weakened in the federation. This represents a threat to all affiliates. We believe that the crisis is the result of a failure to confront the need to nationalise the commanding heights of the economy.
We are witnessing a concerted attempt to undermine our efforts to deal with allegations inside the federation. We, as Numsa, have been brutally attacked for condemning the leaks which can only have come from the core of Presidents and General Secretaries.
There is a clear attempt to undermine National Congress resolutions on the program of action and also the elected leadership, in particular comrade Zwelinzima Vavi.
We see that the intention is that workers must lose trust in Comrade Vavi so that he can be ousted in a vote of no confidence.
This is our mandate to our delegates to the CEC
The NEC resolved that next week’s Cosatu CEC must:
• Abandon the current process which is discredited by the leaks
• Reject any attempt to remove the Cosatu General Secretary in the CEC through a vote of no confidence.
• Call a Special National Congress to deal with the challenges within the federation once and for all.
• Undertake a fresh membership audit to reflect a true picture of the affiliate membership
• Implement Cosatu’s longstanding resolution to convene a Conference of the Left
C. The tri-partite Alliance
The NEC reflected on the history of our Alliance. The ANC Conference in Polokwane promised that the side-lining of the Alliance would be addressed and the Alliance would be reconfigured. The SACP resolved its debate on State Power with an agreement to reconfigure the Alliance. It was agreed that there would be an Alliance Council.
Despite all this, the reality is that the Alliance wasn’t reconfigured – it simply evaporated. The last Alliance Summit was in 2010.
It has become clear that the only function of the Alliance is to be an electoral machine. We reject that approach. In the view of the NEC, Cosatu’s must take forward our working class struggles in the June and October Alliance Summits. Our clear demands were captured in the Cosatu Congress.
But at the same time we recognise that the Alliance is only one platform in the battle which must be fought on all fronts. The ANC must understand that its undemocratic unilateralism in implementing E-tolling and the NDP is not in its own interest as the oldest National Liberation Movement.
We will continue to mobilise the working class.
D. Motsotso wa Numsa – Engaging with the 2014 elections
We reiterate our demand that the ANC undo the capitalist colonial foundation that is the center of the South African economy. The NEC resolved to mobilise and take forward our struggles in the streets. We refuse to be intimidated or diverted from those struggles by electoral politics.
Numsa has taken a conscious decision to defend the National Democratic Revolution through support for the ANC. We will determine our strategy of support for the ANC in the 2014 election on the following basis:
• The response of the ANC to our working class demands
• How our demands find expression in the ANC Manifesto
But we are clear: as the working class we are not expecting to meet our demands by any means except by our own struggle
We must now advance a clear campaign with the progressive youth movement to reject an ANC manifesto if it is embedded in the NDP. We are prioritising, as working class demands:
• Scrapping E-tolling
• Banning Labour Broking
• Ending the bucket system
• Dramatically speeding up implementation of the NHI
Numsa’s NDP Campaign has struck a chord in the working class
Our campaign for the withdrawal of the National Development Plan has awakened the working class: a number of organisations have come out in support of some or all of our perspectives. Our federation, Cosatu, joined us in being very critical of the NDP. The Gauteng Provincial Working Committee of the ANC has supported our position. The YCL has issued a statement which raises a fundamental critique of the NDP.
The SACP is moving from its blanket acceptance
The SACP leadership seems to have retreated from its initial blanket endorsement of the NDP. On the one hand its latest discussion document continues to characterise Numsa as ‘rejectionist’ and further accuses us of ‘self-dispossession’.
On the other hand, we recognise that the view of the SACP leadership has converged with ours in one respect. They agree with us that Chapter 3 on the Economy and employment does not reflect an appropriate strategy for the economy.
Where our views diverge is that for us any vision or plan that is founded on a false economic analysis, and thus on a faulty programme must be fundamentally and irretrievably flawed.
Numsa remains adamant that the NDP must go
We don’t think it is even necessary to be Marxists, which we are, to recognise that the economy is the foundation of any National Development Plan. So if its view of the economy is wrong, we must start again. The leadership of SACP, on the other hand, seems happy to support the plan on the basis that it is not cast in stone.
Our question to the leadership of the SACP is this:
If the fundamental chapter on the South African economy is taking us in the wrong direction, how can we accept that the plan as a whole is a good basis for discussing our future?
We maintain at Numsa that the NDP is a monumental error for South Africa in general and the Liberation Movement in particular!
Numsa’s NDP campaign has been enthusiastically received
The NEC received reports of the success of the Numsa National Office Bearers’ NDP Road Show to its Regions and the enthusiastic response they received from Numsa shop stewards. The Regions reported that the Numsa analysis of the NDP has also been very well received by shop stewards and workers from many Cosatu affiliates outside of Numsa.
We will take the campaign forward
The NEC resolved to deepen and broaden the program of education and communication about the NDP. Workers are crying out for Numsa’s explanatory booklet about the NDP. We will continue to popularize the Freedom Charter in the course of this campaign.
F. Socio-economic Report
Socio-economic overview of South Africa
The NEC received a socio-economic report which provided a bleak picture of the state of our South African society. Some key indicators included the following:
• In 1995, the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality stood at 0.64. By 2008 it had increased to 0.68. South Africa is becoming an even more unequal society.
• In 1995 the share of wages in national income was 56%. By 2009 it had declined to 51%. There has been reverse redistribution from the poor to the rich
• In 2002 approximately 20% of South Africans earned less than R800 a month. By 2007, approximately 71% of African female-headed households earned less than R800 a month
• 70% of (matriculation) exam passes are accounted for by just 11% of schools, the former white, coloured, and Asian schools.
• 55% of Africans live in dwellings with less than 3 rooms and 21% live in 1-room dwellings. Yet more than 50% of White households live in dwellings 4 rooms or more.
• Average life expectancy of South Africans in 1992 was 62 years. In 2006 it was 50 years.
• The life expectancy of a white South African today is 71 years; for a black South African it is 48 years.
• It is 100 years since the 1913 land act and whites still own 87% of the land and we black people share 13% of unproductive land.
Our strategic direction will not take us forward
There is resistance to nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy both on the advice and in the interest of the ruling class. There is open refusal to deal with super-exploitation of black and African labour, which has been the backbone and dominant accumulation strategy of South African capitalism. There has been a refusal to take drastic measures to deal with section 25c of the constitution which defends the property owning class and its wealth. This is despite the failure of the willing buyer willing seller approach to address the property question in general and the land question in particular, post 1994.
G. Collective Bargaining
We have tabled our demands in all sectors and have, in turn, received the employers’ demands. Common employer demands are:
• Wage increases should not be more than CPI
• Wage increases must be linked to productivity increases
A wage increase equal to the CPI would leave our members with an effective zero increase. In fact, because the way the CPI is calculated favours the rich, it would mean that our members would actually be poorer. And with this decrease in wages the employers are saying that our members must be more productive. More work, less pay. In the post Marikana era, this seems to us to be a recipe for trouble.
The NEC resolved that the National Office Bearers will do a collective bargaining roadshows to Joint Sectoral Regional Shopsteward Committee which commenced on 11 May 2013 to build our collective bargaining campaign.
The Numsa NEC noted with concern the distorted perspective of the South African Reserve Bank Governor suggesting that the wage demand of workers are out of line and are above inflation and productivity. Numsa shall in due course release a paper exposing the lie that workers are not productive. The Governor is clearly taking a class position in defence of the Capitalists who in the last 19 years of our democracy benefited handsomely from the 1994 democratic breakthrough.
The continuing crisis of capitalism
The NEC received a report on how the crisis of capitalism has been transferred from the banks to national economies. Globally, these economies, which get their income from taxation, bailed out the banks by taking over their debts. The working class of Europe in particular is suffering from a massive attack on its standards of living to pay those debts. Huge numbers of workers have lost their jobs – unemployment is as high as 27% in Spain. Public services to working class communities have been decimated.
Meanwhile, the capitalist class is thriving. Stock exchanges have been at record high levels and company profits have recovered. As we said last year, we must either overthrow capitalism or perish with it.
We welcome the election of President Maduro, after the untimely death of Comrade Hugo Chavez.
We know that reactionary forces in Venezuela are being supported by imperialists who are working tirelessly to destabilize the new government. We hear allegations of some US unions and NGOs playing a role in this destabilisation. We commit ourselves to act in solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution.
The Numsa NEC welcomes the revolutionary policy announced by the Chavistas that a new labour law, part of which will grant recognition to non-salaried work traditionally done by women, will come into effect this week. Full-time mothers will now be able to collect a pension.
In Numsa we think that the genius of the Bolivarian revolution is that it combines numerous forms of struggle against inequality. The most obvious lies in its commitment to economic redistribution, and measured by the Gini co-efficient, Venezuela has the lowest rate of inequality in Latin America. An equally significant form of struggle against inequality, however, lies in its pursuit of gender equity.
Solidarity with Bangladeshi workers
We pledge our solidarity with the more than 1,050 workers who died in a factory collapse on April 24 at Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh. Those who perished were mainly young women. Many had travelled from poor, rural regions to find jobs in the garment industry. These workers are paid starvation wages of $38 a month (about R380), which must feed entire families.
Super-exploitation of labour is the essence of capitalist globalisation; it is this super-exploitation that creates the enormous profits. That is the ugly face of capitalist globalisation, of imperialism.
Visit of Obama to South Africa
The NEC noted that President Obama shall be visiting the Republic of South Africa. Numsa shall be organising a demonstration demanding that the first black President of the USA lift the Cuban embargo, among other demands.
Visit of Nissan trade unionist (United Auto Workers) from the USA and Danny Glover
Our sister union, the United Auto Workers, from the USA would be undertaking a working visit to South Africa to establish solidarity links with Numsa in a campaign to unmask the exploitation of Nissan worker in Mississippi USA. Our comrades from UAW would be accompanied by the activist actor, Danny Glover, who has demonstrated his commitment to the cause of workers in the US. Numsa shall undertake a joint campaign with UAW to demand that worker rights and remuneration of Mississippi Nissan workers.
Visit of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s General Secretary
The Numsa General Secretary visited the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) National Congress in February 2013 and cemented once more the longstanding fraternal relations between NUMSA and AMWU. The AMWU General Secretary shall be visiting South Africa on 2-3 June 2013 for the purpose of discussing international solidarity and developing exchange programs between the two Unions.
Cosatu delegation to WFTU
Numsa welcome the decision of the Cosatu leadership to take forward the Cosatu 11th National Congress resolution to affiliate to the World Federation of Tade Unions (WFTU). In this regard the visit of the Cosatu leadership to WFTU on 10 June 2013 in Athens, Greece is greatly appreciated and welcomed.
IRVIN JIM, General Secretary – +2773 157 6384
CEDRIC GINA, President – +2783 633 5381
KARL CLOETE, Deputy General Secretary – +2783 389 0777
CHRISTINE OLIVIER, 2nd Deputy President – +2773 725 7748
MPHUMZI MAQUNGO, National Treasurer – +2783 676 6613
CASTRO NGOBESE, National Spokesperson – +2781 011 1137