NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Numsa 2015 May day speaker Notes

6 May 2015, Posted in Speeches

A. History and Importance of May Day/Labour Day to the world working class.

1. Beginning in the 19th Century in the USA, the struggle for a shorter working day is the origin of May Day.
2. Workers could work anything from 14 to sometimes 19 hours in a single day!
3. The struggle and victory for an 8 hour working day is regarded as the historic origin of May Day, in the US.
4. The fundamental point to note is that the capitalist system does not care about the life of the working class – if they could, we could easily go back to slavery where they paid no wages, and worked the slave as long as they could without pay – today we forget this history at our won peril.
5. Although improvement in wages and other conditions of service appear more prominent demands during May Day Celebrations today, we must always remember that it took more than 500 years to abolish the slavery (the real origins of modern day racism are historically linked to the emergence of the world capitalist system and the slavery that fed it with slave labour), and even longer to win an 8 hour workday.
6. It is taking even longer to ensure that women in all work places enjoy the same rights as male workers.
7. Every worker must learn the hisory of every condition and workplace right we enjoy today: the capitalist class has never given in without a fight by the working clas, even to the simplest demand such as time to have some physical rest, to go to the toilet and to have some food.
8. Today in many companies the working class is not allowed to use their cell phones not for security reasons but simply because the bosses hate to see the working class talking on the cell phone! Meanwhile, they themselves spend a lot of time at work watching pornography in their offices!
9. Every May Day is a day for the world working class to learn the lessons from hisroy and to commit themselves to fight for even better working hours, wages, conditions of work and work environments.
10. For us, May Day must also be about recommiting ourselves to the struggle for s socialist world, and a socialist Africa and socialist South Africa.

B. Brief Notes on the state of the South African Revolution.
B.1 What is the South African Revolution?
The South African Revolution is supposed to end:
1. Dispossession of the Black and African majority of land, property and culture;
2. Abolish national domination: guarantee equal political and economic rights to all people in South Africa;
3. End gender oppression; and
4. End class exploitation.

All these are interlinked and inseparable. To tackle one without simulatanoeusly tackling the others is to fool oneself and leads to absolute failure in all four!

B.2. The Freedom Charter and the struggle for national emancipation
The Freedom Charter came to capture the strategic demands for our struggle for Liberation in South Africa.  It is supposed to be the glue that bound the South African Communist Party, the black and African working class labour movement and the nationalists in the National Democratic Revolution.
The freedom Charter says:
“We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know:

That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people;

That our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality;

That our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities;

That only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birth right without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief;

And therefore, we, the people of South Africa, black and white together equals, countrymen and brothers adopt this Freedom Charter;

And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.”
The Freedom Charter further says:
1. The People Shall Govern!
2. All National Groups Shall have Equal Rights!
3. The People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth!
4. The Land Shall be Shared Among Those Who Work It!
5. All Shall be Equal Before the Law!
6. There Shall be Work and Security!
7. The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened!
8. All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights!
9. There Shall be Houses, Security and Comfort!
10. There Shall be Peace and Friendship!
21 years after 1994, none of these have been implimented. As a result, today South Africa is the most unequal place on Earth, very xenophibic and more than 26 million South Africans suffer extreme poverty and are experience  of extreme inequalities.

C. State of the South African labour movment: the crisis and paralysis of COSATU

a. Numsa Special National Congress and its ground breaking resolutions are a product of a long history of struggles with the Liberation Movement (more than 30 years!), the Mass Democratic Movement and the ANC led alliance.

b. After fully satisfying ourselves that the ANC and its alliance has been captured by the right-wing forces, imperialism and South African capitalist class, Numsa has decided to part ways with the ANC led Alliance.

c. Marxist-Leninist perspective of the sources and causes of the crisis in COSATU:

I. The crisis in Cosatu is a reflection of the class contradictions and class struggles that are broadly playing themselves out in South Africa and in the liberation movement and its formations between the South African Black and African proletariat and the forces of South African colonial capitalism and imperialism.

II. On one hand there are forces of capitalism now properly represented by the leadership of the ANC and SACP, and on the other hand there are forces of socialism, to which group Numsa and its allies belong.

d. The expulsion of comrade Zwelinzima Vavi is further proof that the right-wing faction in the leadership in Cosatu is determined to clean out any socialist opposition to its right-wing support of the ANC/SACP government.

e. Toay all over the country, in all work places, workers to continue to debate what must be done: new federation or reclaim Cosatu?

f. Meanwhile the ANC government and capitalism have inetensified their war against the working class by:

i. Beginning to place limitations on collective wage-bargaining not to cover certain categories of workers and businesses (such as SMME’s),
ii. Pussy footing on the question of a National Minimum Wage.
iii. Have implemented a Youth Wage Subsidies to cover the alleged, yet unfounded, gap of youth wages that are above productivity.
iv. Are demanding wage and price moderation, with a bias towards wage moderation, since wages are thought to be above productivity,
v. They have “Essentialised” certain categories of work, particularly those that are within the public service.
vi. Refusing to ban labour brokers, instead they have opted to regualte them.
vii. Limiting the rights of certain categories of workers from having access to the CCMA.

All these attacks on the working class have happened when Cosatu has been in the fridge!

D. The life of the South African working class 21 years after 1994:
South African, after 1994,
Does not guarantee work and security to all its citizens, especially the majority of the working class who are Black and African.

Poverty, unemployment and extreme inequalities are the daily experiences of the majority of the South African working class. Black and African working class women and youths suffer the most in post 1994 South Africa.

1. Although today all are “free” to work and are free to form trade unions, to elect their officers and to make wage agreements with their employers, we know that:
 71% of employed workers are not unionised,
 54% of workers receive no regular wage increments or have their wages determined solely by their employers,
 Bargaining councils cover just 9% of the workforce, and
 Only 23% of the workers’ wages are negotiated directly through unions.

2. Does not guarantee and recognise the right and duty of all to work, and to draw full unemployment benefits! Millions of South African workers have no jobs, many suffer the humiliation of extremely inferior wages, and many still are dependent on the few that earn apartheid wages.
3. Has failed to secure the conditions whereby men and women of all races  receive equal pay for equal work.  The average wage of an African male today is R2, 400.00, while that of a white male is R19, 200.00 per month. The African female worker earns, on average R900.00 per month while the white female worker earns an average of R9, 000.00.
4. Even after 20 years of “freedom” millions of workers do not work a forty-hour working week, do not enjoy paid annual leave, and sick leave, and millions of female workers, especially African female workers still do not enjoy maternity leave on full pay and yet we know today that:
 24% of workers work for more than 48hrs a week, average working time is 44 hours a week;
 Sectoral minimum wages are widely violated, and on average they are 19% below the current estimates of a living wage of R4000;
 Workers were paid on average, 35% less than the legislated sectoral minimum wage (R16bn, in 2010);
 Only 32% of all those who work have medical aid benefits;
 43% of workers have no access to paid maternity/paternity leave;
 31% have no access to paid sick leave;
 50% of workers have no access to a pension or retirement fund; and
 33% of workers do not have access to paid annual leave.

5. Miners, domestic workers, farm workers and civil servants, even after 20 years of “democracy” do not have the same rights as all others who work.
6. We have not abolished child labour, compound labour, the tot system and contract labour. Today we know that:
 35% (4.7 million workers) are engaged in contract and other short-term type of employment;
 20% of workers are on verbal contracts; and
 Attempts to essentialise parts of the public sector workforce, e.g. education and Eskom are well underway.

E. Our Demands
During this May Day, 21 years after the promise of the 1994 democratic breakthrough, we, the working class of South Africa, suffering from extreme inequalities, widespread unemployment and mass poverty, while the rich continue to get richer, find that we have no choice but to make the following demands:

We demand the full and radical implementation of the Freedom Charter.
The Freedom Charter says:
We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know:

That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people;

That our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality;

That our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities;

that only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief,

And therefore, we, the people of South Africa, black and white together equals, countrymen and brothers adopt this Freedom Charter,

And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.”
The Freedom Charter further says:
11. The People Shall Govern!
12. All National Groups Shall have Equal Rights!
13. The People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth!
14. The Land Shall be Shared Among Those Who Work It!
15. All Shall be Equal Before the Law!
16. There Shall be Work and Security!
17. The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened!
18. All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights!
19. There Shall be Houses, Security and Comfort!
20. There Shall be Peace and Friendship!
Twenty-one years after 1994, none of these have been implimented. As a result, today South Africa is the most unequal place on Earth, very xenophobic and more than 26 million South Africans suffer extreme poverty and are experiencing extreme inequalities.

1. On the state and government
We want a democratic, socialist, interventionist state, which represents the interests of the working class and the poor, who are the majority in South Africa.
a. Nationalise mines, banks (including the Reserve Bank), major construction, all strategic minerals and bring them under working class and democratic control
b. Stop privatisation of the state and its assets!
c. Pay proper wages to all public sector workers and not just the top layer!
d. Stop using the state as a tool of private enrichment!
e. We say No to tenders: build the capacity of the state; stop sub-contracting the work of the state!
f. Transform the judiciary to give equitable access to the working class and the poor to justice!
g. We say No to e-tolls!
h. Stop xenophobia!
i. Stop Police brutality!
j. Clean up government and stop corruption!

2. On the Economy
We demand and shall fight for an economy democratically controlled and managed by and for the working class and the poor, not global capital and its local parasites:
a. We reject the National Development Plan, the latest version of Gear!
b. Manage interest rates in the interests of the working class and the poor!
c. Bring back exchange controls!
d. Promote local content!
e. Fill all public sector vacancies and redefine ratios:
 Nurses to patients;
 Teacher to learners
f. Ban labour brokers!
g. We demand the immediate introduction of a National Minimum Wage now!
h. Dismantle the apartheid wage structure!
i. Work must start immediately on an industrial and economy policy a strategy that can be powered by renewables!
j. Stop load shedding!
k. Provide all the special needs of female and persons with special needs in work places and communities!
l. Protect our natural environments from the private greedy of the capitalists and all those who abuse them.
3. Social Services
Quality, free services for all who live in South Africa:

a. We demand medical services free at the point of delivery!
b. We demand quality housing for all, near economic centres!
c. We demand quality education for all!
d. We demand water and proper sanitation for all!
e. We demand electricity for the working class and the poor!
f. We demand safety and security in all communities!
g. We demand decent, reliable, affordable, safe, integrated public transport!

4. Land
We demand Land Justice for all!
a. Expropriate land from the expropriators without compensation!
b. Government to provide tools, inputs and support to make redistributed land productive
c. Redistribute urban land and build integrated urban settlements!
d. End the enduring apartheid geography!
e. Stop evictions of farmworkers and their families!

5. Local government
Viable, sustainable, equitable, honest local government for all
a. We demand an end to the unworkable, apartheid local government boundaries!
b. We demand the restructuring of local government boundaries around need and rational allocation of resources for all!
c. Redistribute urban revenues to small towns and rural areas!
d. We demand the right of recalling corrupt and non-performing local councillors!
e. We demand an end to the reckless looting of the scarce resources meant for the communities across all municipalities.
6. Poverty, Unemployment and Inequalities
End the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality:
a. We demand the right and duty to work for all!
b. We demand that the state must be the employer of last resort!
c. We demand full state support for the unemployed!
d. We demand the right to nutritious food for everyone!
e. We demand the right to water, sanitation and electricity for all!
7. Energy and Electricity

We reject load shedding: Eskom must do its job!

We know that the ongoing spate of load shedding engulfing our country is as a result of the ANC government’s failure to invest in new power generating capacity and Eskom’s own inefficiency and leadership failures.

We recognise that this crisis is having dire consequences for the South African economy. It will lead to employers moving to shed jobs in many industries, leaving the majority of the working class and poor households in even deeper misery, poverty and starvation, amidst the unresolved crises of poverty, unemployment and inequalities in our country.

We recognize that at the core of Eskom’s crisis is also a power struggle amongst the predatory elites for the total control of Eskom and the contracts that they want to allocate to themselves and their friends. This situation has contributed to undermining Eskom’s core mandate of electrifying the country.

Eskom has now been downgraded to junk status by the credit rating agencies of global capitalism largely due to poor leadership, in our opinion.

Eskom is responsible for supplying  electricity. Instead, Eskom is imposing a regime of load-shedding which is a straightforward attack on the conditions of the working class and the poor.

We reject that regime. Eskom cannot transfer the problems they have created onto us, the poorest people in society.

We demand that companies pay workers in full, with no deductions for load-shedding. If the companies want to recover their costs, they must demand them from those who are responsible – the state and Eskom. They must not take them from black and African workers who are still victims of the apartheid wage gap.

We reject the proposed tariff increase: As the single most important provider of electricity to the economy and society, Eskom must service the rest of the economy. It is only blind, dogmatic adherence to neoliberal principles that obliges Eskom to operate as a commercial entity.

We demand that Eskom must be properly supported by the state to produce the electricity required for the economy to grow, at a price that encourages industry to grow. It must stop chasing the balance sheet and start chasing industrial development.

We demand a credible and rapid enquiry into Eskom. To be credible, such an inquiry must include all the major constituencies.

The working class and its families are suffering. We demand to know  the real cause of our suffering from Eskom.

We demand to know about the composition of the so called ‘war room’. We demand full disclosure of the interests of everybody in the war-room. We need to know whose interests they are serving.

We demand that Eskom opens its books for public scrutiny: we must see the details of Eskom’s contracts for fuel, of the accounts for projects such as Medupi, of the bonuses paid to Eskom’s Directors and Senior Managers while those same Directors and Managers impose restrictions on workers’ wages!

The books must be opened down to the last detail so that we can see for ourselves what has been happening at Eskom.

We reject the threatened punishment of the working class and the poor through suspending service to their Municipalities: all levels of government, together with Eskom, are responsible for the chaos at Eskom and its failures.

Again they want to visit their collective failure on us, as the customers of the municipalities, by blaming each other as different levels of government. It will be our lights that they switch off. And it will happen in the poorest communities, not in the suburbs.

We reject the Acting Chairperson: We reject the appointment of Dr. Ben Ngubane as Interim Chairperson of the Eskom Board and we call for his immediate withdrawal from the Board. During his tenure as SABC Board Chairperson, the SABC was looted of millions of Rand. What is this patronage that allows such a discredited man to be put in such a leadership position in such a vital organization when it is in crisis?

We demand the facts from the board of Eskom and Minister Lynn Brown about the suspension of the senior executive as we do not accept the flimsy reasons that were advanced to justify the reckless decisions to suspend the management.

Furthermore we reject the recycling of the board members and CEOs of parastatals.  Our experience with Brian Molefe is a terrible one.

We know him as a union basher at Transnet  under his leadership we witnessed a fifty billion tender being allocated to two Chines companies, China North rail and China South, instead of giving work to a South African company, CTLE that has capacity to manufacture locomotives and Trains.  Such a decision led to +-200 jobs being lost at CTLE.  So Numsa has no confidence in Brian Molefe.  As a union we don’t endorse

None of these rights are impossible to implement in South Africa. South Africa is rich enough to guarantee all these rights to all the people in it. The obstacle is the capitalist system and its greedy ruling class and the capitalist ANC/SACP government!
We the South African working class pledge to work tirelessly to ensure that the Freedom Charter is implemented in full, and radically too.
United, militant and revolutionary, guided by our Marxism-Leninism, we know we shall win!

None of these rights are impossible to implement in South Africa. South Africa is rich enough to guarantee all these rights to all the people in it. The obstacle is the capitalist system and its greedy ruling class and the capitalist ANC/SACP government!

F. How will the demands be won?

1. Imperialsim, the South African white monopoly capitalist class and the ANC/SACP government will never freely volunteer to give the workinhg class any of the emands above.
2. The working class must educate itself, organise and mobilise to fight to win any of these demands.
3. All unions must work for the unity of their organisations first by making sure that the member becomes the most imporatant building block of the union – servicing the member must be a prioerity
4. Internal union democracy and worker control must be preached and practiced at all times.
5. Our unions must be
a. Independent,
b. Militant,
c. Revolutionary,
d. Socialist oriented,
e. Anti-imperialist,
f. worker controlled and democratic organisations

• Leadership must be democratically elected, by mandates and practice democratic centralism

• We must combine shofloor struggles with community struggles and grow the United Front

• We must promote sociualist consciousnesss among the working class at all times.

• We must build the power of the working class and fight, as a united block, the capitalist class and all its servants!

We can win all the demands we have made above, and many more, if we, the working class, can unite and fight for a socialist South Africa and socialist world.
-end-