NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

May day march protest readiness

30 April 2015, Posted in Press Releases

May 1st, is a hugely significant and important day in the political calendar of workers globally. Here at home, in South Africa, this day was achieved through mass struggles, including through the shedding of blood, during the most heinous and oppressive days of Apartheid.

It was through Cosatu and workers from all corners of our country that made May 1st, was made a paid-public Holiday in recognition of the working class to our country.

Over the past 21 years, since our negotiated settlement or 1994 democratic breakthrough, we have been using May Day to reflect on the struggles waged by workers; set-backs we have suffered and the gains we have scored through our struggles and mass power. We have also been using May Day, to salute a number of unsung heroes of worker’s struggles in South Africa. Above all, we have been using May Day, to celebrate the heroic 1973 Durban strike, which gave birth to the progressive, democratic, worker-controlled, independent and militant trade union activism!

This year 2015, we are celebrating this May Day under strenuous and difficult conditions not of our owning choosing. The once mighty shield and spear of workers – the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is in a state of paralysis and permanent turmoil. This has led to the biggest Affiliates, Numsa, representing a total membership of 365 000 workers being expelled from the Federation they helped to form and build over 30 years of relentless and dedicated workers struggles. Cosatu’s General Secretary cde Zwelinzima Vavi, being “expelled” from his democratically-elected position by workers, Cosatu being reduced to a toothless and sweetheart Federation, unable to coordinate and lead mass struggles of workers, and a number of Shopstewards and Leaders being purged or expelled from their own unions.

Accompanying this sad and ugly reality are scandalous claims of corruption by union leaders, including the missing millions from union coffers, generated through the hard-earned or pittance money from workers subscriptions.

All these realities cannot be divorced from the divisive nature of the political trajectory our country is heading towards and our mass formations finds them in, 21 years after our democratic breakthrough.

There is an agenda that exists and it was hatched elsewhere by a dominant and powerful faction to hollow-out all organs of people’s power, the use of defamation and smear campaign, the abuse of State security to intimidate or criminalise dissent, exchange of dirty money to deal with perceived political opponents, and side-lining of those seen as an obstacle by those in power today.

The worker’s-youth axis that played a pivotal role and acted as a conquering force has been destroyed through political patronage and use of money.

This has made workers to be vulnerable: the bosses have taken advantage of the paralysis in Cosatu and they are arrogantly dismissing and retrenching workers freely and recklessly. The campaign to scrap e-tolls has taken a back seat, the fight to ban Labour Brokers has been compromised at the price of appeasing the government; the struggle for a Living Wage, for the most vulnerable workers remains a pipe-dream.

All this is happening amidst the ideological fog of a so-called “good story to tell”, that was unleashed by politicians to steal votes from the working class.

The workers of our country know very well that there’s no “good story to tell”, as a result of the disastrous and failed neo-liberal policies that continue to be championed by the government. These neoliberal policies have made South Africa to be number one in the world in terms of inequalities, has the highest number of service delivery protests, as compared to Greece, Spain or China, has the highest rate of unemployment when you compare us with other middle income countries, have a 60% youth unemployment rate, our untransformed and colonial economy is shedding jobs and corruption has reached unmanageable proportions. This indeed is not a “good story to tell” by the working class. The good story is being told by the white monopoly capital and its parasitic cronies.

As the nine unions, namely the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa); South African Catering Commercial and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu); Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa); Public and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Pawusa); South African State and Allied Workers Union (Sasawu); Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu); Communications Workers Union (CWU) and South African Football Players Union (Safpu), calls on the workers of our country, irrespective of their union’s logo’s or colours, to join en masse the protests marches that will be taking place in Durban (KwaZulu-Natal); Johannesburg (Gauteng); East London (Eastern Cape); Bloemfontein (Free State) and George (Western Cape).

Our demands

During this May Day we are making 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:
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!

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 oriented, 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. Sort out the Eskom mess without punishing the working class!
l. Provide all the special needs of female and persons with special needs in work places and communities!
m.  Protect our natural environments from the private greed 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 that is free till at junior degree level!
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!

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!

These protest marches are a break from our historic traditions of bussing workers to listen to the rhetoric spewed by politicians, whilst workers conditions and standards of living remain unchanged. We call on workers to reclaim this May Day, and use it as a political platform to express their needs and aspirations, as encapsulated in the Freedom Charter.

Only when the entire working class is organised, united around their key socio-economic demands, can we all realise our shared dream of 1994, which continues to elude us. We can, and we must defeat the capitalist class that keeps us pressed down!

Details of the MAY Day marches & rallies

    Region                                                                      Details
1. Gauteng  Start in Johannesburg CBD at 9am; Assemble at Joubert Park (opposite Johannesburg Park Station; Proceed down  Twist Street; Down to Ellis Park arena (Standard Bank arena)
2. Kwa-Zulu Natal  Start at Dinuzulu Park at 9am; Down Pixely Ka Seme Street to City Hall
3. Western Cape   1. Start at Keizergracht Street, District 6 at 10am; March to Parliament in Cape Town;
2. Rally at Tembalethu, George (between Fire Station and Multipurpose Centre) at 10am
4. Free State   March in Bloemfontein at 10am; Start at Batho Police Station; March to Department of Labour; Charlotte Maxeke Street
5. Eastern Cape   Rally in East London, Indoor Sport Centre at 10am, Mdantsane


Castro Ngobese
National Spokesperson
Mobile: +2783 627 5197
Tel (dir): +2711 689 1702