Numsa fully backs MTN strike led by CWU

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) fully supports MTN strike that began today, 20 May 2015, led by militant fighters and class orientated allies – the Communications Workers Union (CWU).
We are emboldened by the huge and massive turn-out of workers in support of their wage demands and trade union rights.
The strike is taking place against the backdrop of massive and highly racialised income inequalities, post the 1994 negotiated political settlement. The workers at MTN in particular and ICT sector broadly are now fully aware of the huge profits their employers make – a fact reflected by obscene salaries, bonuses and executive perks they rake in, whilst workers struggle to survive on poverty wages with rapidly rising cost of living in a class divided South Africa.
The ongoing strike is a catastrophic result of the colonial and Apartheid wage dispensation that the fading African National Congress (ANC) government has spectacularly failed to overhaul after assuming power 20 years ago.
This wage dispensation and post-apartheid economic edifice continues to benefit White monopoly capital while the workers’ share of the national income continues to decline. The workers are demanding their share of the profits, in the absence of a legislated National Minimum Wage, which was dangled in the eyes of workers under the guise of an ideological fog of “a good story to tell”, during the 2014 national elections.
The highly racialised exploitation and poverty wages continue to be the order of the day at MTN, with ordinary workers earning less than R3 000pm. This is against the super remuneration package to MTN’s Chief Executive.
The 10% wage demand will partially elevate the living standard of these workers, since they are faced with the socio-economic burden of taking care of the vast army of the unemployed and elderly ravaged by poverty and squalor, in working class and poor households in our Apartheid created Townships and rural slums.
We condemn the quasi-Nazi propaganda used by MTN to deflect the general public on the underlying reasons that has led to the current strike. The strike takes place after failed collective bargaining negotiations between MTN and CWU.
Therefore, MTN executives must hang their heads in shame for publicly propagating the lie that they do not have recognition agreement with CWU. This clearly is an attack on worker’s hard won right to freedom of association and joining trade unions of their choice. This right was achieved after serious struggles, with some workers sacrificing their jobs and lives for this right to exist.
We reject the calls made by self-anointed spokespersons of capital and liberal economic commentators for workers to accept 0% wage settlements, which means wage cut in real terms.
Workers cannot afford to soften their wage demands when Executives’ and Shareholders’ salaries, bonuses and perks remain obscene, whilst workers and their families are squeezed deeper into abject poverty and economic misery.
NUMSA calls on MTN’s greedy bosses to concede to the reasonable and affordable demands of workers. We call on workers to remain firm and resolute on their struggle for decent pay and improved conditions of employment.
Lastly, we call on the striking workers to remain united until their demands are fully met by the MTN bosses. The principle of “No Work; No Pay” should not dampen their militancy and revolutionary spirit in this just and noble struggle. Already, the bosses will try to use this “No Work; No Pay”, principle to weaken the strike, the workers should resist such maneuvers by remaining united – guided by worker’s battle cry “Fight or Starve”.
NUMSA calls on its members working night shifts; our communities and unemployed to join en masse MTN workers on the picket line as they fight for a Living Wage and improved conditions of employment.
Castro Ngobese
National Spokesperson
Mobile: 083 627 5197
Tel (dir): 011 689 1702
Twitter: @castrongobese