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The time to strike is now!
A CALL TO ALL WORKING CLASS ACTIVISTS TO JOIN THE LABOUR ACTION ON 7 OCTOBER
Workers in COSATU have taken the bold first step to call for mass action in a period of generalised disorientation by the labour movement to defend the hard-won gains made in the public sector wage agreements of 2018.
NEHAWU workers have taken a stand against the brutal reality for frontline workers during the COVID19 crisis. We have seen workers critical to society put their health and safety on the line without adequate PPE, while receiving poverty wages. At the same time financiers and bosses continue to hoard wealth and make financial gains on the stock market.
Paying for crises built into the capitalist system, the working class faces countless attacks as austerity budgets and policies are implemented. Before the pandemic, these policies failed to provide adequate healthcare, housing and social services for the majority and have left society unprepared for a public health crisis with severe economic consequences. Millions of people in South Africa have gone without work, adequate food, sanitation, healthcare or schooling since March.
The implications for our readiness for future crises, including the worsening climate crisis, are startling. We must fight to undo the worst of this capitalist system now, and mass demonstrations called by COSATU in support of working class control of our wages and public coffers, as well as protections in the face of a pandemic, is a vital first step.
All unions and labour activists must fight back against attacks on the working class, including mass retrenchments – a reality before COVID19 and getting worse as heartless bosses are emboldened by the current crisis. We must fight back against the state’s flagrant disregard for the public sector wage agreement, which will set a dangerous precedent for the credibility of all future wage agreements and drive down wages in all sectors.
Corruption and cronyism are built into the capitalist system. However, it is especially atrocious to have witnessed the corrupt dealings of local and national government officials in the procurement and supply of much needed PPE and other services during a time of national and global crisis – over 100 companies are under investigation for exactly this in Gauteng alone! At every level, we have seen those with power abuse it at the expense of working class communities as companies continue to steal workers’ UIF and TERS payments, the already insufficient “safety-net” of rands and cents spread so thin between households.
Workers across the labour movement, and working class communities are all forming similar conclusions about the need for a political alternative that truly represents working class interests. There is growing recognition of the limitations of the tripartite alliance for workers in COSATU. To quote the statement released by the COSATU Gauteng PEC, “The refusal to honour the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018 is a direct attack on workers. What is unacceptable is that this is done to appease the markets and rating agencies at the expense of workers…It is necessary to start discussing the relevance of the Alliance and whether it remains relevant, when the government is starting to hand over the country to the IMF. These frank assessments of the effectiveness of the Alliance should take into consideration the current situation where millions of workers are losing their jobs, where the VAT has been increased instead of corporate tax and where private and public sector corruption have become endemic.”
It is clearer than ever that the ANC and SACP represent the bosses, and the opposition parties do not offer a fighting alternative. Now, more than ever, we have to build a mass workers party that represents us – the working class. This strike is an historic opportunity to unite forces of the working class, workers in all federations, communities and civics, students and the youth, against capitalist corruption and those who benefit from it. Mass actions like these can mobilise the working class in the numbers necessary to disrupt this sick system, and ultimately build the democratically organised forces necessary to do away with capitalism once and for all.
WASP calls on all union organisers, community and left activists to mobilise for the action where you are and join planning meetings happening in the next week in support of the strike. We call for a Joint Shop Steward Council of all federations to plan for the 7th of October. We’re encouraged by the invitation from SAFTU to all forces on the left to a planning meeting on Friday, 2 October. This will be an excellent opportunity to plan for an effective show of force from SAFTU and those outside of the COSATU ranks to maximize class solidarity. The 7 October strike will set the momentum for the future mass working class actions planned by SAFTU, and it is important SAFTU throws its full weight behind mobilising for this action.
To ensure a sustained, continuous struggle for our demands to be met, a National Working Class Assembly of all shop stewards from across the workers movement, community, youth, gender rights, migrant justice and climate change activists must immediately be organised. This assembly must draw up a programme of working class perspectives, political strategy and mass rolling actions to fight the crises of capitalism in this period.
We must all fight to defend the gains made by labour and social movements throughout history. We must take a stand against this system that fails us in the best of times and has been disastrous in the worst of times, and demand a new society that can meet the needs of all.
Without compromise, we must struggle for:
- Implementation of all wage increases as recognised by the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018
- A living wage for all public sector workers
- A mass public works programme to provide jobs, essential goods and services to communities that need it. No tenderpreneurs!
- Immediate nationalisation under democratic worker and community control, all companies facing liquidation and who are retrenching workers, as a first step to nationalisation of all the commanding heights of the economy under working class control. Bosses must go and workers must stay!
We must fight for these using the strongest tool we have, collective withdrawal of our labour- the labour that creates the wealth for those who are safest from the consequences of this pandemic and the future climate crises.
We call on all workers, students and communities to join this historic action of working class unity. We will meet you on the streets!
The Workers and Socialist Party