As the year 2014 ends, the National Office Bearers (NOBs’) of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), on behalf of the 349 330 members, take this opportunity to send their good wishes to the working masses of our country; the rural poor; unemployed youth and the elderly of South Africa.
We particularly send our festive greetings and well wishes to metalworkers, and all workers in general, who normally travel long distances during this time of the year to be with their families and loved ones.
It is you fellow workers who toil and work hard to keep the wheels of our bourgeois economy rolling to the benefit of the bosses, whilst you are paid meagre wages, and can’t even take care of the large army of the unemployed that is ravaged by squalor, environmental degradation, inferior living conditions, HIV/AIDS pandemic and mostly affected by crime in our apartheid created townships and former Bantustan villages.
It is your working class communities that continue to bear the brunt of violence directed at women, children, gay and lesbian people.
This year has been most turbulent and difficult for the trade union movement, especially Cosatu. Over the past three years now, Cosatu has been consumed by boardroom factional battles, as opposed to advancing its programmes and campaigns as mandated by workers at the 11th National Congress in 2012. All this has rendered Cosatu unable to play its role in defense of the exploited and vulnerable workers. This has even led to key struggles of workers to be leaderless, notably the recently ended Post Office strike.
Numsa leadership and its structures, noted the chorus of voices, led mainly by the divisive leadership of Blade Nzimande’s SACP, for metalworkers “not to follow the Numsa leadership, but remain in Cosatu”. This poisonous posture of Blade’s SACP, reaffirms our political view that the SACP was the key player that engineered our “expulsion” from Cosatu. Numsa leadership remains committed to reclaim Cosatu, as mandated by our constitutional structures. Hence, we are fighting our expulsion from Cosatu.
We shall do so, working closely with our allies in Cosatu. But we remain emboldened by the massive support and solidarity we continue to receive from workers on the ground across all Cosatu’s affiliates and everywhere in the country and from our allies abroad.
As Numsa, we salute our members who rallied behind the union during the four (4) week-long engineering sector strike. Our class enemies tried to undermine this genuine struggle of workers by associating it with threats of intimidation and violence. In the midst of all sorts of accusations, the union of John Gomomo; Mbuyiselo Ngwenda; Jabulile Ndlovu, sailed through and delivered a qualitative victory for workers in the engineering sector.
We remain committed to represent workers needs and demands. It is for this reason, that in the New Year we will pull up our socks, and make sure that we respectfully address all concerns of workers at the shopfloor without any hindrances. We will do so in accordance with our Service Charter adopted at our watershed Special National Congress in 2013.
After a long running battle with the Department of Labour (DoL), to register our new scope, as democratically amended by our Special National Congress (SNC) in December 2013; we are thrilled and excited that our new scope has finally been registered. Our scope now includes the following industries:
- Mining, including all related activities;
- Industrial Chemicals;
- Renewable Energy;
- Information and Communication Technologies (ICT);
- Aviation and related Services; AND
- Health and Canteen Services;
Any analysis of the organisation of work during this period of global neoliberal restructuring which is driven by the demands of the money form of capital to accumulate, clearly demonstrates the most obvious fact: all trade unions must ensure that every worker is fully represented, protected and enjoys the full benefits as enshrined in the Freedom Charter, especially during these times when capitalist restructuring of work is also aimed at fragmenting, dividing, and weakening the working class by preventing the growth of trade unions.
Numsa has extended its scope in conformity with the dictates of global capitalist restructuring processes and as just about all other affiliates of Cosatu have done over the past 29 years, because they have found it impossible to organise strictly on the basis of their sectors alone. This is simply because trade unions do not organise industries, they organise labour. It is therefore the responsibility of all trade unions to chase capital wherever and however it organises, in order to ensure that the maximum number of workers receive trade union protection.
As trade unions we must organise all workers who are crowded out and displaced by outsourcing and not bow down to the bosses’ distinction of so-called core and non-core business activities, as a capitalist device to weaken and destroy unions. As we move forward on this all-important matter of working class organisation, we will intensively engage the progressive trade union movement.
As 2015 dawns, it has become clear 20 years after our neoliberal capitalist negotiated transition that the material conditions now dictate that the working class as a class for itself must impose its hegemony and crush the neoliberal capitalist agenda championed by the fading ANC and all elites that erode our gains.
There is no doubt that the struggle for a living wage will continue to be a key site of struggle in the New Year. As Numsa, we will advance our Section 77 Campaigns, to make sure that the living wage for workers in South Africa is realised, as we will be marking 60 years of the adoption of the Freedom Charter in Kliptown in 1955 and the formation of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (Sactu).
We will, in 2015, work to ensure that the Apartheid wage gap is eliminated in our country as this continues to reproduce racial and gender inequalities in incomes, conditions of employment and conditions of living. It is our considered view that the Apartheid wage gap must be eliminated totally and executive pay must be capped as a basis for us to secure more than a minimum wage.
In order to radically and thoroughly uproot the scourges of poverty and inequality, as Numsa we will complement the call for a minimum wage with the call for full employment, with all the features outlined in the Freedom Charter.
As Numsa, we will be inside and outside of the public hearings that the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour will host as from the end of January 2015; through presentations and picketing. We will not just call for a statutory minimum wage in South Africa but make a bold demand for living allowances for the unemployed too, as the Freedom Charter promises.
As metalworkers, we are ready to extend our solidarity to public sector workers whose negotiations for wages and other conditions of employment will prove to be the most difficult in the light of the austerity measures that the Minister of Finance Mr. Nhlanhla Nene announced in October in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. We also note the pressure from capital for privatization of state-owned enterprises and the sale of so-called non-core assets as a means to ease the simmering budgetary crisis. As Numsa we will stand firmly on the side of public sector workers, and continue to demand the fulfillment of the 2011 promise for government to fill all funded vacant posts.
As the leadership collective of Numsa, we are happy with the progress that we have made to implement our Special National Congress Resolutions to lead in the establishment of a United Front (UF) and in the exploration of the formation of a Movement for Socialism. The successful international symposium of left parties and movements that we held in August 2014 laid a firm foundation for further exploration of establishing a political party that is committed in action and policy to a socialist South Africa. To continue this work, Numsa plans to convene in 2015 a conference on socialism.
As shown by responses to invitations to the December 2014 Preparatory Assembly for a United Front, our Special National Congress’ command for Numsa to lead in the establishment of a United Front has found resonance within society. As a union we are committed, jointly with our allies to see that the United Front is launched in April 2015. We also commit ourselves to the programme of action that the Preparatory Assembly adopted and whose highlight will be a day of Action on Budget Day on Wednesday 25 February.
We hope that as we march to Cosatu’s thirtieth anniversary in December 2015, the struggle by all those who are keen to unshackle the federation from the political paralysis it finds itself presently, will be victorious.
Workers of this country do not want a name. They require a militant, fighting and campaigning trade union centre. Although “expelled” from the federation we formed, built and fought for; we dedicate the remaining years of our tenure to ensure such a federation re-emerges; either as a rejuvenated Cosatu or a new trade union centre.
We would like to also join all the global progressive forces in saluting the resolve of the Cuban people to defend their nationhood. For more than half a century, the people of the tiny island of Cuba have managed to valiantly resist the United States Goliath. Their unshaken and deep commitment to progressive internationalism and social justice remains an exceptional example that we all have yet to emulate.
The history of the African continent in general and of our country in particular, is incomplete without recognition of the sterling role played by the Cuban people. It is in this context that the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States must be understood. To us, this development represents a crucial advance in the struggles of the Cuban people, and it represents the superiority of the principles that Cuba stands for over those of imperialism. As the United States is making these overtures to the Cuban people, we will continue to actively support the principles of socialism upon which modern-day Cuba is founded.
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