The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) held a highly successful Central Committee meeting (CC) from Sunday the 11th to Wednesday the 14th of December 2011, at Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference Centre, Newtown, Johannesburg, Gauteng province.
In a statement issued after the meeting, NUMSA said: ‘The CC noted the ongoing and deepening global crisis of Capitalism and its further worsening in Europe and the United States of America (USA), the global centres of Capitalism and imperialism in the world.
‘The events all over Europe and the US are a living proof of the correctness of the scientific analysis of the greatest thinker of the working class, and the most erudite economist of all time mankind has ever produced, Karl Marx, that Capitalism is inherently a crisis-ridden system.’
On the ongoing de-industrialization and job bloodbath in South Africa today.
The statement said: ‘The CC noted the fact that the ongoing global crisis of capitalism is deepening, and now threatens massive civil upheavals in Europe and the United States of America.
‘In South Africa, the CC is clear that the effects of the deep seated structural and systemic crisis of the global capitalist system will further worsen our inherited Apartheid situation of the triple crisis of gross inequalities, massive unemployment and mass poverty.
‘Further, the CC noted that in the past 17 years, our macro and micro economic policies have accelerated the pace at which South Africa has de-industrialised and shed jobs.
‘A toxic economic combination, among others, of inflation targeting, high interest rates, rapid removal of exchange controls, trade liberalisation, an overvalued currency – all have combined to kill South African industries.
‘The CC noted the good work NUMSA has done since 2008 to combat the job bloodbath, to reverse de-industrialisation, to replace inflation targeting with employment targeting, to ban labour brokers, and many such similar economic struggles on behalf of the working class.
‘The CC encouraged the NOBs to double their efforts in 2012, on these fronts.
‘The CC noted that from 2012 onwards, the fight for decent work, for ending the South African Apartheid Wage, for banning labour brokers, for industrialisation of South Africa among others must intensify if we are, as a country, to avoid social catastrophe.
‘The CC applauded the efforts of the NUMSA NOBs in forging minimum tactical alliances with industry to stem the destruction of South African industries, and for their efforts at getting the metalworkers voices heard at the highest levels of leadership in both government and the Alliance.’
NEASA (National Employers Association of South Africa) and attacks on NUMSA and Collective Bargaining
‘The CC condemns the attempts by NEASA to undermine Collective Bargaining Agreements in the Engineering Sector by their resort to courts to overrun the Agreements secured during the Collective Bargaining processes.
‘The CC views these actions as an attack not only on NUMSA, but on the very foundations of constitutionally entrenched labour rights of workers in this country.
‘The CC will not allow NUMSA to meekly watch the bosses water down the hard won benefits at Collective Bargaining by NEASA.’
On the National Planning Commission (NPC), Diagnostic Report and National Development Plan:
‘The NPC says: “Our key strategic objectives are the elimination of poverty and the reduction of inequality” (p.8). . .
‘The massive wealth that has been accumulated over the years, the large corporations – the white monopoly capitalist enterprises, are founded on the historical process of colonial exploitation of African labour by the white capitalist class. . .
‘Having correctly addressed the root causes of unemployment, poverty and inequality, the NPC has a second task, the task of explaining why over the past 17 years, the democratic order has failed to resolve unemployment, poverty and inequality. . .
‘The NPC Diagnostic Report is highly inconsistent. It identifies nine challenges that it considers to be obstacles to addressing unemployment, poverty and inequality.
‘However it does not link these challenges to the underlying problematic economic relation that defines South African society, which the NPC itself acknowledges to be at the “root” of our problems as a country. As a result, the diagnosed root cause of the South African disease is divorced from the symptoms.
‘The symptoms are then treated as problems in themselves, instead of them being expressions of an underlying economic relation that persistently generates them.
‘The CC, informed by the above analytical observations rejects the conclusions and recommendations as contained out in the NPC Diagnostic Report. . .
‘NUMSA will continue to demand that nothing short of the full implementation of the demands of the Freedom Charter will amount to anything in South Africa other than merely the efforts of the bosses and their lackeys to send the working class to sleep.’
On the Protection of State Information Bill
‘We reject the notion that any objections to restricting access to information from the state is in the interests of liberals and the liberal media: it is in the class interests of the working class to have an unimpeded access to state information from any state in a capitalist society such a ours.
‘NUMSA has no illusions about the class character of the current South African state.
‘While it is in the commercial interests of the right wing and liberal media to demand for an unimpeded access to state information, and while it may be true that such liberal and right wing access may be injurious to some of the aspirations of the post 1994 South African state, we are convinced that the Bill in its current state will diminish workers access to critical state information, thus harming workers participation in advancing democracy in this country.
‘As a Socialist formation, NUMSA is well aware of the history of injury to the cause for Socialism the concealment of state information can do.
‘In fact, NUMSA is fully conscious of how capitalist states including the Apartheid government, dealt with “state secrecy laws” to deal with Communists, Socialists, progressive liberals and even churches!
‘The CC is of the view that, in this computer and internet day and age, and post 1994 in South Africa, rather than restricting access to state information by whatever means, our efforts must be to allow for fuller popular access to such information.
‘In this way, we will be creating the possibility for full popular and working class access to state information, a necessary condition for deepening popular and working class democracy in South Africa.
‘We remain convinced that there is a need to introduce a public interest defense that would maintain a balance between the restrictions legitimately placed on State information against disclosures and media publication of such information in the public interest. . .
Police Brutality against Striking Workers!
‘During the course of our struggle for a Living Wage and improved conditions of employment for our members, particularly in the engineering sectors, we observed a well-calculated and coordinated police offensive and brutality meted out against our striking workers.
‘This police offensive and brutality was not class neutral, given our ideological understanding that in a Capitalist state like South Africa, the repressive arms of the state, such as police, judiciary and the army, always act to protect the interests of the dominant class, the class that exploits the labour of others and derives profits through surplus value generated through the hard labour of workers.
‘We hold the view that the police should not be bullied or use excessive force to mitigate over industrial disputes or popular struggles by workers for a fair share of wealth at the point of production.
‘These struggles by workers are genuine and legitimate given the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and deepening income inequalities inn our country.
‘Therefore, the police, as workers too, should not be co-opted by the capitalist managers of our economy to silence popular dissent or liquidate struggles that are geared towards improving the socio-economic living conditions of our people.
‘The role of the police during strike actions or protests is ensuring that those participating in these activities enjoy their constitutional and democratic rights unimpeded.
‘On our part we will continue to educate our members whenever they are on strike actions or protests to always act within the law.’
The NUMSA’s Programme of Action (PoA) for 2012
‘The CC discussed and approved the union’s programme of action for 2011. The key pillars of this programme include:
‘Entrenching the traditions of a militant, campaigning and politically active union;
‘Improve livelihoods of members and their families;
‘Consolidate the gains of the 2011 bargaining round;
‘Developing a clear and visionary recruitment/organising strategy;
‘Bring internationalism home;
‘Develop and Train a Staff Cadre.’