The Johannesburg-based Africa Office of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) pledges its unconditional support to the Numsa strike in the Metals and Engineering sector which started last week.
This legitimate strike by the mainly black metalworkers for a 15% increase, ban on labour brokers, and a housing allowance of R1000 are reasonable demands of the workers towards a living wage.
These strikers experience high levels of poverty, inequality, poor pay, etc. and have to support many dependents of their extended families out of their meagre slave wages.
This strike action is an act of last resort and desperation as workers cannot survive with the current slave wages of less than R4000. Entry level monthly minimum wages in capitalist countries such as USA are no less than R13000 and yet metalworkers are asked to live on less than R4000.
The ANC government, and other working class organisations, can do more to close the excessive executive pay gap to acceptable income differential levels as provided in the Equity Act with a less need for strikes to resolve labour turmoil caused by exploitation of black workers.
WFTU condemns the arrogant and intransigent stance of the exploiting employers who pay themselves enormously from the sweat of the black workers.
We also condemn in the gest terms tricks by employers, such as NEASA, PCASA, etc. to criminilise, demonise and delegitimize this constitutionally entrenched right of works to strike.
It is common cause that this lsquoright to strike’ is limited and threatened by the employers abused lsquorecourse to lockout’, right to replacement labour and no work no pay principle which have weakened many strikes in the absence of the lsquostrike fund’.
WFTU notes with apprehension the employers’, ANC’s and government’s stated intentions to further curb the right to strike with judicial and state interventions, ballots and penalties which will leave workers without any recourse to pressurize employers to accede to their demands.
It is a view of the WFTU that it is impossible to have successful strikes without militancy and revolutionary discipline and that strikers have the right and duty to persuade other workers and third parties to join and support the strike instead of breaking it.
WFTU also condemns in the gest all threats and intimidations by everybody, including the car makers, such as pulling productions out of the country due to this legitimate Numsa strike.
In true proletarian solidarity, we call upon other Numsa sectors and other working class organisations to pledge practical solidarity with the strikers.
This strike needs to be intensified and accelerated so as to shorten it to its logical conclusion.
Whilst we are not condoning strike violence, we will not condemn it as an unmitigated outcome of the workplace class struggle and labour disputes.
As we are not pacifists and we see strikes as likely motors of social change and we must be vigilant of agent provocateurs and third forces.
Source : Congress of South African Trade Unions