NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

NUMSA press statement on IPP’s, SAFTU National Strike and Bus Strike

24 April 2018, Posted in Press Releases

“The proletariat is the complete antithesis of the exploiting classes. It does not exploit others but is itself exploited. There is no conflict of basic interests within its ranks or between it and the other oppressed and exploited working people. Far from needing to harm other working people or impede their development for the sake of its own development and emancipation, the proletariat must forge the closest unity with them in the common struggle. If the proletariat is to emancipate itself, it must at the same time emancipate all other working people and emancipate all mankind. There can be no such thing as the separate emancipation of a single worker or section of workers. The proletariat must carry the cause of the emancipation of humanity through to the end, fighting step by step for the liberation of all mankind, and there can be no giving up or compromising half-way.”

How to be a good communist: Liu Shaoqi

NUMSA Statement: Making a clarion call to all its members and the working class in general to shut down the economy on Wednesday, the 25th of April, 2018.

Introduction:

The National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (NUMSA) is calling on all its members in the auto sector such as car assemblers VWSA, Toyota SA, Isuzu SA, BMW SA, Ford SA, MBSA, Nissan SA; the tyre sector companies like Bridgestone SA, Continental SA, Sumitomo SA; the steel sector companies like SCAW Metals, Arcelo Mittal SA, Macsteel and all companies in the engineering

sector; the motor sector, which includes all companies in the component sector, logistics, material handling, workers in the cleaning sector, in the security sector. We are calling on members in the mining sector, and all South African airports, in the passenger bus sector, and across all sectors of the economy where we are organised to embark on the strike tomorrow to defend all workers’ hard won gains and to take up the struggle for a living wage.

NUMSA fully supports the strike organised under the banner of SAFTU. We further extend our clarion call to embark on strike action tomorrow to all workers in South Africa, regardless of the Union or Federation that organised them. As workers, regardless of different banners, stand to benefit from the demands advanced by NUMSA and all other Unions within SAFTU where we are demanding a proper national minimum wage whose value must deliver to the marginalised, oppressed and super-exploited Black and African labour a living wage. Such a living wage delivered as a national minimum wage must uproot the Apartheid, colonial wage and its legacy. We must destroy the persisting racist accumulation of South Africa’s white capitalism, which has been anchored on the super-exploitation of Black and African labour, whose history can be tracked back to the Union of 1910 between English and Afrikaner capital, which will be sustained by the current labour amendment bills.

The strike tomorrow is to demand this real living wage in the form of the National Minimum Wage (NMW), and to reject the insult of R20, per hour imposed in the labour market by the ANC government, which takes the Black and African working class back to the racist Apartheid fault lines. And it sets a terrible precedent which belongs to this dreadful past, something even PW Botha and the FW de Klerk government did not commit, but the ANC government have come out and categorically stated that Black and African labour deserve a meagre wage of R20 an hour.

NUMSA rejects attempts by backward employers to undermine this strike. We have received reports of employers deliberately misleading workers by claiming that NUMSA members may not participate in the strike because it is not specifically named in the Section 77 certificate granted by NEDLAC. We wish to correct this false narrative. A section 77 strike is a socio-economic strike. It allows all workers, regardless of trade union affiliation, whether they

are organised, or unorganised; even if they are not a member of a trade union, to legally participate in this protected strike. And as an affiliate of SAFTU, and the largest union in South Africa we are participating in this strike.

NUMSA wants to put the record straight that as a Union, speaking on behalf of our members, we are not fools. We can see through the cheap ploy of the Department of Labour supported by Cyril Ramaphosa, where previously sectoral determination was used to improve benefits and wages of vulnerable workers, this system has now been replaced with low wages for domestic workers of R15; farm workers R18; and where workers who work in the public works programme (EPWP) will earn R11 an hour. All of this has been pushed through the labour bills with an intention to sneak in a slavery national minimum wage of R20 an hour, something that NUMSA rejects with the contempt it deserves. We understand this government’s agenda for what it is, an attack on the working class, and in particular, organised labour. This is right-wing Thatcherism at its best. This is how Cyril Ramaphosa is furthering what he and Trevor Manuel, supported by the right-wing Democratic Alliance, defined in the NDP as a flexible labour market. This onslaught is about furthering the aims of the NDP to deliver Black and African labour for the super-exploitation of untransformed white monopoly capital.

NUMSA is very angry and dismayed by this conservative, right-wing Thatcherist agenda of the ANC government that continues to supervise super-exploitation of Black and African labour in the hands of the racist economy that has remained completely untransformed, completely white owned and controlled by white males and white monopoly capital. We hate the fact that the concentration and centralisation of wealth in the hands of this white, monopoly elite continues by other means through the co-option of a few black faces like Cyril Ramaphosa who are the beneficiaries of the status quo.

Through the labour bills, they use their proximity to power to extend, to defend and to maintain the continuation of the racist accumulation path, of white monopoly capital through the super-exploitation of Black and African labour.

The strike tomorrow, whilst it is strictly about the national minimum wage through Section 77, certificate of non-resolution, over and above that, NUMSA

and SAFTU will continue to protest through rolling mass action and through militant stay-aways in defence of the constitutional right of the workers to strike. We reject and refuse that the ANC government must tamper with the constitutional right of workers to strike by imposing undemocratic measures and limitations, such as compulsory balloting before every strike. The outrageous proposal that allows for the CCMA or the Minister of Labour, to intervene in the middle of the strike, should government feel that the strike is hurting the economy, (which is the very purpose of the strike), is rejected with the contempt it deserves. Furthermore, we reject the proposal that the state can take the decision to either stop the strike through an interdict, or, forcefully ballot workers again to test whether they still want to continue with the strike.

NUMSA is firm that the current picketing rules that are signed by both employer and employees as a guideline to handle the strike between parties is enough. We also reject with the contempt it deserves the sell-out accord on collective bargaining and industrial action of good practice that has been signed by collaborators at NEDLAC, as it is treating strikes as a dinner party. Strikes are not a dinner party, but a sacrifice by workers who embark on strikes as a last resort. Workers, when they are on strike, lose their wages. When workers embark on a strike, they are not writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery. We reject this industrial action code of good practice, which treats Black and African workers as violent savages when in fact, they are victims of a brutal capitalist system. Whilst at the same time, the accord promotes false class harmony in a class divided society.

NUMSA and sister unions under the banner of SAFTU are not just calling on all workers to oppose these labour bills and to protect their constitutional right to strike, which is a fight we regard as an open class war. In the interests of future generations of workers, we say to the workers of South Africa, united we stand, divided we fall. This is a fight that we must pursue as the axis of the working class.

Both the old and the younger generation must fight side by side, and if this government fails to listen, like it has refused to listen to the genuine demand to ban labour brokers, we took the matter to the labour court and we won. And when they wanted to snatch this victory from workers, we took them to

constitutional court and we are waiting for that constitutional court decision on labour brokers. We remain adamant that the ANC government must ban labour brokers. We will not back down from demanding that the ANC government must introduce a national minimum wage whose quantum must be a living wage of at least R12500 as was demanded by the Marikana martyrs, as a first step and as part of realizing a genuine national minimum wage. The state must force companies to open up their books so that we can see the profits which are being generated sector by sector, and company by company, in order to determine a fair living wage. If they fail to do this and continue to be servants of a racist, untransformed white monopoly capital, we will be left with no choice but to continue with the rolling militant mass action. Furthermore, we will we will not hesitate, as we did with the labour brokers, to take them to court.

On the bus strike

Last week Friday, 20 April 2018, NUMSA together with all other unions in the bus passenger sector voted unanimously for the intensification of the bus strike, both to advance our members demands and to reject the racist ‘baaskap’ attitude adopted by employers against the just demands of our members. Our members correctly demanded that a dual driver must be paid the minute he is inside the bus. We reject the employer’s cheap, exploitative ploy where they only want to pay them when their foot in on the peddle driving a bus. Our members are also demanding a night shift allowance in line with the basic conditions of employment act, which defines night shift as 6pn to 6AM, and not 3AM to 8PM as defined by the abusive employers in the bus sector. These employers provocatively and arrogantly want to break the law by unilaterally contracting out the provision of the basic condition of employment act.

We are demanding that mechanics, cleaners and support staff must be insourced as they form part of the bargaining unit. On wages we are very clear that last year, we settled on 9% and we refuse an increase that is less than this. In fact, we went further and made an offer to employers to provide stability for two years. Our demand to settle this round of negotiations is that employers must offer 9.5% increase for the first year 2018 and another 9% increase for the send year, 2019. Unless employers meet these fair demands of our

members, the strike will continue. We appreciate that this strike affects our communities negatively and we share the pain of our communities, but we are calling on them to continue to support the strike and the just demands of our members. We are aware that the Department of Labour is intervening this afternoon to try and knock sense into employers with an intention to find a speedy resolution to this strike.

The NUMSA position on the unilateral signing of the 27 IPP contracts by the Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe.

NUMSA continues to object to the unilateral signing of IPP contracts into the national grid by the Minister of Energy. Our rejection of IPP’s is informed by the same reasons we advanced when we rejected Jacob Zuma’s signing of the nuclear deal when we had excess energy capacity in the national grid. We interdicted the signing of the 27 IPP contacts. We lost the urgent interdict, but did not lose the case on merit or substantive issues. We lost purely on the failure to meet urgency. We want to inform the public that this is a matter we have mandated our lawyers for them to take this decision on review. NUMSA has no ideological stance against renewable energy, as we accept that we do need an energy mix. Our position is that it must be just transition in the interests of workers and their families; it must be a just transition which takes into account the interests of our members’ jobs in the coal transporting sector, the power stations, and the coal mines. In fact where NUMSA stands, the signing of these renewables by Jeff Radebe is reckless and the minister has failed to make any business case.

For instance, with the current capacity that we have from our energy base load, which has been generated on the back of huge investment costs of about R150 billion at Khusile and Medupi, we have excess energy of 7500 MW per annum. And with the connection of the IPPs to the national grid, this reduces the capacity to 5000 MW per annum. With the capacity that we have, we can produce 1 KW for 32 cents, but the renewables cost R2, 14 per KW, but we can only sell it for 80 cents in the market. The connection of renewables in 2016, resulted in Eskom making a loss of 9 billion Rand. This is the reason why we are convinced that Jeff Radebe has not applied his mind. To make matters worse, at least 40 000 jobs are to be lost as a result of his actions, which will render all

of the rural towns in Mpumalanga and municipalities into ghost towns. The rest we will argue in court.

The working class is under attack and the economy is in shambles under the so-called new dawn:

It is not just the workers who are under siege, the whole economy has been mismanaged by the ANC government for the last 20 years. And all its right-wing, capitalist priests have run out of ideas on how to stimulate the economy and to drive job led economic growth.

The ANC government has refused to fully implement the Freedom Charter, in particular the economic clause, which vowed that the people shall share in the country’s wealth, mineral wealth beneath the soil, and that Banks and monopoly industries shall be transferred to the ownership of the people. The ANC government refused to implement NUMSA’s demand to nationalise all the commanding heights of the economy and place all our minerals under worker control. They rejected the idea to drive a job led industrial strategy that will grow the economy and create quality jobs that are paying a living wage.

All the macro-economic policies, such as GEAR and the NDP that the government has stubbornly insisted on implementing are the only policies that have been implemented, and these neo-liberal policies they stubbornly implemented have consequently destroyed jobs and de-industrialised the country to proportions where it will be difficult to recover.

We are faced with a triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality. We ended 2017 with the South African economy being downgraded and bordering on junk status and technically in a recession. At the beginning of this year we had about 30.4 million South Africans with absolutely no plate of food. These conditions of the working class and poor will continue to worsen, especially in light of the new dawn Presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa that promotes austerity measures, and whose mission is to bring back privatisation of SOEs couched in the so-called partial privatisation.

NUMSA is very clear that there is no intention under this Cyril Ramaphosa administration to drive so-called radical economic transformation. If the ANC government had the intention to drive radical transformation it should have

demonstrated this through the long overdue nationalisation of the Reserve Bank and change its failed strategy of inflation targeting, to instead, target job creation and cut interest rates. This government must stop being a permanent protector of the value of white wealth.

NUMSA has consistently demanded the expropriation of land without compensation. We have always believed that South Africa’s bourgeois constitution with the property clause is a problem. It is therefore NUMSA’s submission that that what the ANC government under Cyril Ramaphosa is busy with is to use cheap propaganda to position itself for the coming national elections in 2019, whilst confusing and attacking the working class. For instance, it is Cyril Ramaphosa’ s ANC government that promised free and compulsory education, but it turned around and imposed VAT increases that only worsen the hardships of the working class.

On one hand, ANC proclaimed to be about land expropriation without compensation, but the very same ANC characterises its own resolve as not being about land grab to a point of suggesting that expropriation of land without compensation will have no negative impact to those who own land and to the economy. This is the same as doing nothing, but yet continuing to advocate good revolutionary sounding phrases that remain hollow in practice.

NUMSA is convinced that there is no revolutionary agenda from the ANC government to restructure the South African economy, in order to address the fundamental issues of ownership and control of the economy. The ANC government continues to pursue failed neo-liberal policies and refuses to take measures to stimulate economic growth through a job led industrial strategy where all SOEs are playing a strategic role to stimulate the economy. To this end, NUMSA has called for the removal of the current boards of all SOEs to be replaced by representatives from all social partners, such as labour, business, civil society and government to ensure that procurement and that every Rand is being spent to drive localisation and create jobs.

NUMSA will continue to build SAFTU as a revolutionary, socialist federation, as well as building the United Front, and building the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SWRP). We remain more than convinced that there is no replacement for these working class alternatives, and that uniting the working

class, organising the working class as a class for itself, and pursing the class struggle is the only guarantee for change.

Parallel to the work we are doing on the ground, we are calling on the government to move with speed to open up a discussion on all the above failed neo-liberal policies, that includes the dumping GEAR and the NDP to advance the socialist policies that NUMSA is advocating for. We are also calling for a job summit to stop the job loss blood bath that is currently taking place across all sectors of the economy.

The state, instead of taking measures to create jobs is in fact destroying them. The IPP project is an example of this. Furthermore Eskom is demanding an outrageous 30 per cent tariff increase to recover 66 billion Rand loss between 2014 and 2017 whose result will lead to many plant closures and worsen de – industrialization. That is why NUMSA rejects with the contempt it deserves IPP project because it is tantamount to state capture. Radebe sate in his speech that where he publically stated that he has been assured by the current NERSA leadership that they will take whatever necessary measures to give Eskom the tariff increase they are demanding. During the signing of the IPP contracts on the 4th of April he said:

“The energy regulator, Nersa has committed to working with the new leadership of Eskom to address the challenges facing Eskom and to ensure that this state owned company becomes sustainable for the benefit of South Africa, its people and the economy. Concrete steps will be taken during the consideration by Nersa of Eskom’s new MYPD 4 tariff application which will include further allowances for the additional cost that will arise out of the Renewable Energy IPP’s that are being signed today”

This is contrary to the independent role that NERSA as a regulator of energy should be playing without any due influence. And the question that must also be posed against the waffle, is whether the IPP office is independent, and at arm’s length to the state. NUMSA noted the presentation made by the IPP office in Parliament in the energy portfolio committee that it was bordering on making policy on behalf of the Department of Energy.

It is against this background that NUMSA is convinced that what the ANC government is busy cooking is to create concrete conditions to justify

privatisation of all state owned enterprises, which NUMSA views as another round of white monopoly state capture, something we reject with contempt.

In fact our demand is that the state must continue to be the employer of last resort. All vacant posts in public service must be filled and all public service workers who are professionals, nurses, teachers, the police, the army etc. must be paid a living wage, which restores the integrity of their profession. We need an expansionary budget, which must be invested in building collapsing dilapidated infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools where children are dying in pit latrines, and this is why NUMSA rejects the Cyril Ramaphosa administration and austerity measures, including its imposition of VAT to the poor.

Aluta continua!

The struggle continues!