Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/636/10152

From The Socialist newspaper, 1 September 2010

General strike movement sweeps South Africa

THE COSATU trade union federation in South Africa has warned the African National Congress (ANC) government that its refusal to meet 1.3 million public sector workers' demands - for an 8.6% pay increase and a housing allowance of R1,000 a month - will result in an escalation of the three week long public sector general strike. An embattled president Jacob Zuma has now arranged fresh talks between Cosatu and government ministers.
Weizmann Hamilton of the Democratic Socialist Movement (the Socialist Party's counterpart in South Africa) explains the importance of this strike movement and the way forward for workers.

SOUTH AFRICA has been shaken by a public sector general strike, a strike that one newspaper called "a war between South Africa's classes" and one which represents the end of many illusions in the new Jacob Zuma leadership of the ANC.

As well as trying to defend their pay and conditions against a full frontal government attack involving intimidation and threats of mass sackings, workers have also faced tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets from police.

Workers won concessions in a strike wave in 2007 and the government is desperate to take them back. They repeat a claim seen around the world that the workers' demands for better pay and conditions cannot be afforded.

'Affordability' runs thin as an argument with a government that has spent billions of Rand on luxury cars, 'on travel, procurement and conferences' and where ministers continue to use their positions to loot the state, tendering for government contracts through companies owned by them.

State owned enterprise executives have given themselves huge pay rises. For example, an Eskom (electricity public utility) executive got a bonus because he performed poorly and needed to be incentivised to do better!

Fortunes were spent on the football world cup, yet profits disappeared to Fifa (the world cup governing body) not to South Africans. And four out of every five world cup workers are back on the street with no skills transfer.

The government's 'affordability' argument is merely an echo of the voice of their capitalist masters. Their common refrain is that low wages, along with the right of the bosses to hire and fire as they please, will lead to more job creation.

In accordance with the logic of this argument the cheap labour system that underpinned apartheid and that continues today should have led to full employment. Yet a million jobs have been lost since the recession began in 2008.

With no end to the crisis in sight, and with an economy continuing to throw more onto the scrap heap of unemployment, those fortunate enough to have jobs like civil servants, have to increase their meagre salaries to support not only themselves but jobless family members who fall into the wrong age group to qualify for government's miserable social welfare grants. Workers on average support eight to ten dependents.

The government gives money to the capitalists and then turns around to tell us there is no money for wage increases. Capitalists have enjoyed a bonanza of R70 billion in tax breaks as the government has reduced corporate taxes from 45% to 28% today, thus reducing tax revenue.

Neo-liberal capitalism requires cutbacks in social spending, especially on wages, whilst allowing capitalists free rein to profiteer to their hearts' delight.

We cannot accept that we must tighten our belts because of an economic crisis we have not caused. The capitalists and their government must take full responsibility. The 2008 world financial crisis was no more than the trigger for a crisis prepared by the mounting contradictions of capitalism that had been building up for decades before then.


Full article can be read on www.socialistworld.net - Public Sector workers shut down city centres in day of marches

Cosatu and the tripartite alliance

COSATU HOLDS the idea that the 'ANC is a revolutionary movement with a working class bias' and post apartheid, the union held a tripartite relationship with the ANC and the Communist Party (SACP). Yet SACP leaders attack trade unions, saying 'people cannot whine like hungry babies'.

The relationship between Cosatu and the ANC is one increasingly seen as collusion with an antagonistic employer who speaks of banning trade union rights for soldiers, health workers, police and teachers. Cosatu's refusal to face this fact meant that preparation of the strike was very hesitant. Instead, everything they could do to avoid it was tried but rejected by a government determined to attack workers conditions.

Cosatu's position amongst workers was being undermined and the need to restore credibility helps explain its leaders call for an indefinite strike.

The public sector strike represents a turning point in the political situation. Illusions in Jacob Zuma have been severely damaged. The Zuma coalition lies in ruins with bitter recriminations against the SACP by the ANC Youth League, criticism of the SACP by Cosatu, insults against Cosatu by the SACP and attacks on the Zuma cabinet by Cosatu.

Cosatu is in mortal danger unless it breaks from the tripartite alliance and the trap of class collaborationism.

Unless Cosatu is taken out of the tripartite alliance the federation will disintegrate. The task of taking the federation out of the Alliance cannot, however, be left in the hands of the leadership. The rank-and-file must spearhead the process.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 1 September 2010:

A fightback can stop cuts


Youth fight for jobs

Our future under attack


Anti-cuts campaign

Anti-cuts movement builds momentum in Plymouth

North Staffs TUC public meeting against cuts

Cuts hit poor hardest


Anti-racism

Fighting the far right in Bradford


Socialist Party news and analysis

Labour's three stooges aid Con-Dem coalition

Government cuts hit our benefits

Keep Middle Street centre open

Defend school meals


Socialist Party feature

Slashing public services: do councillors have 'no choice'?

Lobby the TUC conference


International socialist news

Kazakhstan: Human rights activist beaten and arrested

Worldwide protests against brutal attack on three Russian socialists

Pakistan flood disaster: Workers' solidarity appeal


International feature

General strike movement sweeps South Africa


Socialist Party workplace news

Battles ahead on London Underground

London firefighters ballot for action

Jobs threat at RBS

Coventry mail centre closes

Civil service jobs under the cosh


 

Home   |   The Socialist 1 September 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

South Africa:

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: South Africa - Has the ANC been 'radically transformed'?

triangleZimbabwe: Mugabe gone - but his regime remains in power

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: South Africa - 5 years after the Marikana massacre

triangleBristol South Socialist Party: What is happening in South Africa?

triangleChesterfield Socialist Party: South Africa

Strike:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleRMT strikes against driver-only operation continue

triangleHackney school cleaners strike

triangleHome care workers to strike

Africa:

triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

triangleCaerphilly and RCT Socialist Party: Class struggle erupts across South Africa

triangleSouth Africa: burning anger

COSATU:

triangleSouth Africa: The battle for free education

triangleThe Marikana report - a whitewash

Public sector:

triangleSalford Socialist Party: Pay Up Now - Public sector workers need a pay rise!

Jacob Zuma:

triangleCWI news in brief

ANC:

triangleSouth Africa: Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia

International

International

17/1/18

Hong Kong

Stop repression in Hong Kong and China

17/1/18

Tunisia

Tunisia: explosion of protests against government austerity

10/1/18

Iran

Movement challenges Iranian regime

10/1/18

Appeal

Appeal from Iranian independent unions

10/1/18

Sweden

Sweden: School strike against deportations

3/1/18

Catalonia

Catalan elections: PP humiliated

13/12/17

Israel

Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict

13/12/17

CWI

A world in crisis, ripe for revolution

6/12/17

US

Trump's tax plan: Robin Hood in reverse

6/12/17

Ireland

Irish capitalist state: rotten to the core

6/12/17

Women

Fighting sexism, violence and capitalism - an international struggle

22/11/17

US

Trump's tax attacks

22/11/17

Australia

Australia: massive yes vote for marriage equality

21/11/17

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Mugabe gone - but his regime remains in power

15/11/17

Minneapolis

USA: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle17 Jan Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangle17 Jan NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

triangle17 Jan We must fight all council cuts!

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

triangle12 Jan Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangle12 Jan Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

More ...

triangle18 Jan Waltham Forest Socialist Party: How do we get Corbyn's policies into Waltham Forest council?

triangle18 Jan Southampton Socialist Party: Is there a global nuclear threat?

triangle18 Jan Swansea Socialist Party: Is there a threat of nuclear war?

triangle18 Jan Cardiff East Socialist Party: Building Socialism in Cardiff East

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2