WSF (1998): “PAC leader says ‘ban the trade unions'”

WSF (1998): “PAC leader says ‘ban the trade unions'”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 1, first quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

The PAC [Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania] is sometimes seen as a radical alternative to ANC.

However, in an interview in The Sowetan, PAC leader Bishop Stanley Mogoba said that South African workers are too lazy. He stated that the way to rebuild the economy and create “normal” conditions is to ban the trade unions for 3 years! Mogoba praised the Asian dictatorships like Singapore: while these countries are not democratic, they are “progressive” and have good “work ethics” !!

Workers! You are not beasts of burden- you are the majority! Who are these politicians to dare talk of banning your fighting unions?! Do not trust the politicians- they are part of the problem!

Reject the politicians! Only the workers can free the workers!

WSF (1998): “EDITORIAL: Unite the Workers’ Struggle!”

WSF (1998): “EDITORIAL: Unite the Workers’ Struggle!”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 1, first quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

From coast to coast, a greedy class of anti-worker fat cat bosses abuse and oppress us- the workers. Our masters want privatisation, free trade, mass retrenchments in the public sector, “flexible” labour (hire and fire at will), minimal union rights, and cuts in education and health spending. This is the “free market”.

In the so-called “Windhoek Declaration” signed by all southern African governments in SADC in October 1997 it is stated that “the private sector [is] the locomotive of economic development,” and that “business requires … a climate in which it can develop safely, freely and profitably“. SADC (the Southern African Development Community) includes Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

These policies, sponsored by imperialism, and happily accepted by the local ruling classes, will give bosses big profits. But the workers and the poor will suffer.

In Zambia these policies have cost 100,000 jobs. In Zimbabwe they have led to education spending falling to the level of the colonial 1970s. In South Africa, jobs are at their lowest level in 16 years.

We need to unite the workers struggles in our region. We need to mobilise our unions in solidarity with each other, resisting the bosses’ onslaught.

Today the worker is treated as nothing while the boss is treated as a hero. After the revolution, the workers will be everything and the boss- nothing!!!

POWER TO THE WORKERS OF AFRICA!

REVOLUTIONARY TRADE UNIONISM: ROAD TO WORKERS FREEDOM!

WSF 1998: “Why we say ‘Asifune GEAR’ (Why we oppose GEAR)”

WSF 1998: “Why we say ‘Asifune GEAR’ (Why we oppose GEAR)”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

In June 1996, the ANC-led government adopted the Growth, Employment and Redistribution plan (GEAR). This plan promotes policies, which blatantly serve the needs of bosses at the expense of workers and the poor. The government’s adoption of GEAR marked its commitment to “free market” policies.

WHAT IS GEAR?

GEAR is the ANC government’s strategy to promote social and economic development. It replaces the RDP. The government argues that the best way in which to “develop” South Africa is to promote “economic growth” (i.e. to increase bosses profit). In other words, there must be a “good investor climate” (things must be good for the bosses), and this will lead to better times. There will be more jobs, and more money to spend on services.

But if one takes a close look at GEAR’s policies it is clear that if government’s policies will ensure that bosses get fat while the poor and working class are condemned to poverty and hunger.

GEAR says: cut back government spending especially public sector wages and jobs, and social services (hospitals, schools, pensions).

* Education and free primary health care will mean very little if hospitals and schools are over crowded, have no money, have no resources (no beds or books) and are understaffed.

* Tertiary education will become much more expensive and bursaries will be cut. Thus making it impossible for workers’ families to attend university or technikon.

* Pensions will remain extremely low.

* There will be very little money for building houses for the homeless.

GEAR says: privatise state assets.

* With the privatisation of state assets, basic services will only be provided to those who can pay (e.g. electricity).

* Many workers will lose their jobs or be forced to accept wage restraint because the bosses and the government aim to cut costs and privatise government assets.

* Workers will have to pay more for services, such as transport

GEAR says: The tax on the bosses companies and personal income will be reduced. Taxes like VAT will increase.

* Instead of the rich and middle classes paying higher rates of tax than the poor, the poor will pay more tax than the rich will. This means that workers pay a disproportionate amount of tax and will shoulder the burden of supporting the government.

GEAR says: Drop exchange controls and trade barriers to open the economy to foreign imports.

* Workers will lose their jobs or be forced to accept low wages as bosses try to make their companies more competitive with cheap imports by cutting labour costs.

GEAR says: Workers to agree to wage restraint (workers must not demand higher wages), flexible labour markets (less regulations and protection) and increased productivity (workers must work harder).

* Less pay, harder work, worse conditions, less worker rights

OPPOSE GEAR

It is clear that if workers and the poor want a better life we must not accept GEAR. But Trevor Manuel has stated that GEAR’s policies are non- negotiable and every one must accept it. COSATU leaders say that they will try to influence the government’s economic policy by talking to their allies in the alliance. We say, we cannot wait for negotiations and must resist GEAR now on the shopfloor. We must take up mass action and strike against the implementation of GEAR!

WORKERS MUST DEMAND

* An end to cutbacks in health, education, welfare, pensions, housing and infrastructure.

* An end to privatisation

* An end to increases in VAT, trade liberalisation and high interest and bank rates.

* A Living wage and an end to wage restraint.

* An end to retrenchment and unemployment. We demand more jobs.

* That COSATU be independent of all political parties so it can fight for the workers.

WSF (1998): “SADC : No friend of the working class”

WSF (1998): “SADC : No friend of the working class”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

ecently, SADC (the Southern African Development Community) has been in the news a lot. In particular, SADC has intervened militarily in both Congo and Lesotho. SADC is a regional coalition of governments, and its members are the governments of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. SADC pretends to stand for “democracy” and “development”. But the truth is different. Many of the SADC governments, such as Swaziland and Zimbabwe, have a long history of political oppression. And all of the SADC governments are anti-worker. In October 1997, SADC issued a statement called the Windhoek Declaration. This statement said that “the private sector [is] the locomotive of economic development,” and that “business requires … a climate in which it can develop safely, freely and profitably“.

What this means is that the bosses will play the main role in the economy, and that government must keep the bosses happy.

In practical terms, the statement means policies such as GEAR: privatisation, cuts in health and education spending, cuts in public sector jobs, more VAT and PAYE, less company tax, and low wages and few labour laws to protect workers (“flexible” labour). All of these policies mean less jobs and less money for the working class.

Zimbabwe’s form of GEAR (called ESAP) has seen mass cuts in education spending (down to the level of 1980), health care (down 39% in 1994-5), and jobs (22,000 jobs lost in the public sector; 33,000 in private industry).

WSF (1998): “Bad boy’s club: The ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ and mass murder in the Third World”

WSF (1998): “Bad boy’s club: The ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ and mass murder in the Third World”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

The SABC adverts proclaimed it “the biggest peace movement in the world”. With police motorcycle sirens wailing, 467 brand new stretch limousines followed by secret service agents in 4x4s drove at breakneck speed through Durban towards luxury hotel suites. The cops had hustled the street kids off the pavements out of sight of the foreign TV cameras. Snipers adorned rooftops and recces prowled the sewers below. The bad boys of the Non-Aligned Movement were in town for their R75-million debating society party.

Peace movement! Ha! If you believe that, you need your head read.

NAM founder India and arch-rival Pakistan were there, having recently flexed their muscles in a display of idiotic, genocidal behaviour by conducting !@#$%^&*-for-tat atomic bomb tests that threatened to plunge Asia into nuclear war.

The United States- the only government insane enough to have actually committed atomic genocide – was there as an “observer” of 1998’s most dangerous neighbourhood argument.

So too were Ethiopia and Eritrea whose guns were only just cooling after having belted the hell out of each other’s civilian populations. And let’s not forget the “Democratic” Republic of Congo where dictator and tribalist Laurent Kabila was backstabbing his former allies.

Talk of “democracy” and human rights” was hot air for the media. Take Burma, where the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council crushes all minority ethnic groups and any attempt at democracy. South Africa has helped prop up this anti-worker reign of terror by selling the junta R1-million in arms between April 1994 and February 1998. Or Indonesia, where a brutal regime which climbed to power on the corpses of perhaps a million murdered leftists, still gluts itself at the public trough, jails trade unionists, and commits genocide in East Timor. Our bosses sold them R1,9-million in arms over the same period.

Or former NAM chair country Colombia, where the regime, with United States backing, wages a bitter murder

campaign against working and poor people under the guise of a fake “war on drugs”. South Africa sold them R184-million in arms.

What about Sudan, where a Muslim fundamentalist regime has outlawed any social group that is not a state organ? Well, we sold them R7,4-million in arms. And Algeria, where civil war between the terrorist junta and the terrorist opposition has seen entire villages wiped out and has cost well over 60,000 lives? R11-million in arms.

And this is not even to begin addressing the violent anti-worker neo-liberal “New World Order” which most of the NAM elite are welcoming with open arms: privatisation, casualisation, flexible labour, cuts in education and health spending.

So who heads up this nest of vipers? Well, South Africa of course, which has tried to use the buzz word of “African Renaissance” to cover the stench of its role as an exporter of death and oppression (identical to its role during apartheid, except that thanks to the end of the arms embargo, we are now able to sell killing equipment to more countries than ever before). President Nelson Mandela made it quite clear on his last visit to Asia – when oppressed people were desperately expecting him to take a hard line in defence of human rights – that South Africa will trade with anyone- even dictatorships.

The NAM summit saw South Africa trying to play a leading role in sub-Saharan Africa as a regional power-broker, a sort of overseer cracking the whip on countries seen as not toeing the neo-liberal line, a strategy which should endear it to the United States, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Both the 1995 Rwandan genocide (which saw SA assault rifles used against civilians) and the 1998 SANDF-lead invasion of Lesotho show that working class and poor people in the region and elsewhere in the world face the very real threat of finding themselves staring down the barrel of a South African-made gun.

(*arms sale figures: Sunday Times, June 28, 1998)

WSF (1998): “Union investment arms: A disaster in waiting”

WSF (1998): “Union investment arms: A disaster in waiting”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

While we should support the unions by all means, our support for the leadership should no be uncritical. The last time I checked unions were institutions that sought-after the best interest of workers. I wonder if that mission has had some alterations or has been totally changed over time. There is a fundamental shift in the use and focusing of the union resources in the past few years. Union money, which actually belongs to the workers, is being directed by union “bosses” into projects that are to the union and more especially workers’ detriment.

We as workers are destroying ourselves by allowing leaders to invest our money in the very institutions that exploit and dehumanise workers. Unions were not designed for profit-making but to protect the workers from greedy bosses. Therefore, unions should not engage themselves in any sort of business investment not only because it a fundamental organisational goal displacement but also because it is very anti-worker, reactionary and demobilises workers. It makes the unions reluctant to fight in case they harm investments; it makes the unions think that profit-making is good; it makes the union leaders forget about the workers; it makes the unions stand back from fighting privatisation. It is the reason why the union muscle of about two million members in COSATU alone is not being utilised.

Union resources should be channelled toward projects that benefit, not destroy, workers. The projects that I would suggest the union should direct funds in include among others the following:

* Worker education. Projects of such nature should help educate workers about their rights and inform them about the union policies. This I think is important because many the union members are not informed to a reasonable extent about the politics and policies of the union. In 1994, for example, a survey found that most COSATU members did not have a clear knowledge of the RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) was. Yet the RDP was developed by the unions, and adopted by the African National Congress (ANC) as its platform in the 1994 elections.

* Furthermore, a significant percentage of the union members are either illiterate or semi-illiterate. This in turn hampers their understanding of contracts and policies-a disadvantage that the company bosses will always exploit.

* Also it would be helpful to educate the workers because it will unburden the shop-stewards of the load they carry. The union will benefit in that it will be more democratic. The union officials will carry out the mandates they receive from workers themselves and not what a few of them in the national level have decided upon.

A central part of the battle between slavery and liberation is psychological- it is a struggle to free workers’ minds of the lies and propaganda that keep workers ignorant and passive. It is not just force by the government that keeps workers oppressed- it is also the hold over workers’ minds exercised by the bosses. These lies tell workers that they are not able to run society, that they are poor because they are uneducated, that the government will deliver. In a sense then by educating workers, the union would be liberating them.

WSF (1998): “Every worker must condemn attacks on foreigners”

WSF (1998): “Every worker must condemn attacks on foreigners”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

On September 3, 1998, a march organised by the conservative “Unemployed Masses of South Africa” organisation murdered three immigrants on a train near Pretoria, The marchers were carrying placards with signs such as “We Want Jobs, Not Foreigners”, and threatened to “take steps”. These “steps” included the brutal murders of three Senegalese: one was thrown out of a window, and hit by an oncoming train; the other two were electrocuted on the train roof when they tried to escape.

Every worker must oppose this thuggery. It is the bosses who fire the workers, not the immigrants. The foreigners are workers, like ourselves. They have the same concerns as we do- so why should we murder our fellow-workers? If we spend our time hating the immigrants, we forget the real enemy, the bosses who mercilessly oppress and exploit us. The bosses are mostly South African- but this does not give us anything in common. Instead of fighting immigrants, we must fight the bosses who control the country. And in this fight, we must UNITE with the immigrants. So long as the immigrants are unorganised, discriminated against, and terrorised by the police, they can be used by the bosses against other workers.

It is the old game of DIVIDE AND RULE. The bosses want workers to fight immigrants to make the unions weak. As soon as we organise the immigrants, and fight for their basic human rights, we become stronger, and the mighty working-class movement for socialism grows. AN INJURY TO ONE WORKER IS AN INJURY TO ALL WORKERS.

IT IS A LIE THAT FOREIGNERS ARE TAKING OUR JOBS

ONE: This thing of immigrants causing crime is a blatant lie. In 1996 only 257 Mozambicans, 65 Zimbabweans and 94 Lesotho citizens were arrested for criminal offences. And only ONE Zairian and SEVEN Nigerians were arrested for drug dealing. This shows that the vast majority of crime is by South Africans. The main reason why immigrants are arrested by the police is for not having the proper papers. That is, they are arrested for not carrying a pass. This is absolutely unacceptable in a post-apartheid South Africa.

TWO: Immigrants actually benefit the country they come to. Many have skills or money, and create work for other people. Immigrants also buy goods in the economy, and this helps boost the economy and create jobs in the industries that produce these goods.

THREE: Foreign workers have helped to build this country. Even today these workers are very important to the mining industry which is the lifeblood of the economy. It is the mining industry which raises money for the country to import the machinery needed to industry and farming. So these immigrants are important to sustaining the amount of jobs we have at the moment.

FOUR: Unskilled immigrants do work for very low wages. However, this problem is caused by greedy bosses who want to sweat blood from workers. The solution to this problem is not to attack the immigrants. It is precisely because the immigrants have no rights, and are always living in fear of the police that they are willing to accept these bad wages. If they try to organise for better conditions, then the boss threatens them that he will call the police. If South African workers also oppose the immigrants, they become even more vulnerable, and therefore even more attractive to greedy bosses. The solution is to organise the immigrants into the trade unions and fight for their rights. If we oppose the immigrants we play into the bosses’ hands, we do their dirty work of making the immigrants into cheap labour.

FIVE: We are all workers and we must stand together. If we are divided, we are weak. A working class united will never be defeated. Therefore if we organise and unite with the immigrants we will be stronger. If we are with the immigrants, all workers will benefit because the bosses will not be able to divide us and rule us. We all have the same basic interest: organising to fight for a better life. We are one class of people.

SIX: On principle we must oppose all racism in the workers movement. We must not be like the white workers in 1922 who went on strike against the black miners getting jobs. No! We have long fought against racism. Let us not now be racist against other workers just because they come from another country or because they speak another language.

SEVEN: Workers don’t own the country- the bosses do. And the government acts to help the bosses. If we think of ourselves first and foremost as South Africans, then we can easily forget that our real enemy is not the foreigners, our real enemy is at home-the bosses. We are not one nation with one common interest- the South African nation is deeply divided into rich and poor, and to fight for a common South African interest is to fool ourselves.

South African and foreign workers must unite against the bosses. All people should be free to go where they please, without a dompas in the form of an ID book.