We need a real General Strike against poverty, high electricity, petrol and food prices, labour brokers, the lack of housing, unemployment, etc.
The working class wants to fight but the treacherous leadership of Cosatu, SACP, applies the brakes, hoodwinks and demoralises the workers. Cosatu plans a 1-day strike on the 7th March against labour brokers and toll roads. But in fact this is just for workers to blow off steam. A General Strike can and should be put on the order of the day as a method of struggle against the regime. In 2010 when the public sector was on strike, the SACP and Cosatu leaders knew that if the industrial workers and the soldiers came out in support of the strike, it would end up being a strike against the entire capitalist regime. The Cosatu and SACP leaders called off the strike to save the regime. On the same day the general solidarity strike was supposed to start, the Mozambican masses rose up against the massive increase in the price of electricity, food and water. By calling off the strike, the Cosatu leaders left the Mozambican masses isolated.
The significance of the Cosatu 1-day strike, or stayaway is purely a demonstration and a call on workers to make sacrifices. The ANC has been in power for 18 years. The level of poverty has increased; the rise of the black middle class has been on the backs of the working class. The ANC has clearly come out against the working class by endorsing labour brokers. The ANC is trying to smooth out the rough edges of labour broking but it remains another form of modern slavery. A vote for the ANC is a vote for modern slavery. The Cosatu leaders already sat with the government to sell out the fight against labour brokers by agreeing to new regulations, ‘tightening’ them but in reality entrenching slave conditions. Labour brokers have been created by imperialism to increase their massive profits and to divide the working class. The Cosatu leaders cushion the imperialists from the anger of the masses by making the fight against labour brokers instead of the source of the labour brokers, the imperialist companies themselves. The Cosatu leaders separate the fight against labour brokers from the fight against the big companies, the 5 monopolies, under whose control the bulk of the wealth of South Africa, is. The 5 companies are: Anglo American, Old Mutual, Liberty Life, Sanlam, Rembrandt. These 5 imperialist companies are the main cause of labour brokers being implemented here. Thus any serious fight against labour brokers must tackle these imperialist companies.
The Crisis of world capitalism and the role of Stalinism and the Cosatu leaders
The Cosatu leaders leave the workers to fight on their own, sector by sector and thus divide the resistance by the working class. The treacherous role of the SACP and Cosatu leaders was seen in forcing the workers mandate down to 8.6% despite workers inflation being 30%, while they also postponed the workers fight to after the world cup in 2010. The leaders also refused to carry out the workers mandate for a general strike against high electricity price increases. In the 1980’s when South Africa was in a pre-revolutionary situation, the SACP and Cosatu leaders contained the masses by calling stayaways instead of strikes to occupy the factories.
Since the 1900’s the world was fully divided up among the imperialists and a period of decay started. The only way the imperialist could extend their influence was through clashes with rival imperialists. In recent decades there has been no overall development of the productive forces. In 2009 alone the capitalists dismissed over 50 million workers around the globe. In Europe and the USA, many workers have had their wages and conditions cut, while many have been forced to retire later. In the semi-colonies like South Africa, Argentina, Bolivia, Zimbabwe, etc, the capitalists and imperialists increase their profits by forcing lower wages and at the same time, massively increasing food, housing, electricity and transport costs. There were a number of class conflicts bursting out around the world. We live in a period when the masses struggle for mere survival has turned political. All the capitalist regimes are under threat of being overthrown by the toiling masses.
Preparation for an indefinite General Strike
The capitalists-imperialists are the ones who are starving us. That is why we need to mobilise and confront them and their agents in government. That is why we need an indefinite General Strike. The General Strike could develop into a path for the working class to take power into its own hands. The burning question is then: how to make this General Strike a reality? First it is necessary to develop a progamme of demands, organising the entire working class against the onslaught of the imperialists and their agents in government. We can see clearly that the objective of the SACP and Cosatu leaders is to have a 1-day action for workers to blow off steam, while disguising this demonstration as a ‘general strike’.
There need to be strike committees set up in every factory, mine, farm, every workplace, every army barracks, every working class area, irrespective if workers belong to a union or not, or if they are Cosatu affiliated or not. These strike committees need to send delegates to local, regional and national strike councils, to centralise the demands of the working class and to drive the General Strike and a real programme of struggle against imperialism and capitalism, not only nationally, but taking it regionally and internationally. There needs to be strike committees in the working class areas and thus include unemployed delegates. We need to call mass meetings of parents, students and teachers to spread the strike committees. We need to prepare committees of self defence that are answerable to the strike committees. Meetings of joint shopstewards councils of all unions should be set up- these should call for the strike committees to be set up to bring in broader forces to unite the working class from shopfloor level. In these broader structures the current struggles around Chapman’s Peak, Hangberg, Tafelsig, Blikkiesdorp, Boiketlong, for caregivers to be given permanent status, for adequate housing close to places of work, for shortening of the working week, for work for all, should be centralised. We need to mobilise in defence of the mineworkers who were dismissed from Impala Platinum- for them to be unconditionally reinstated, etc. We need to support the Syrian masses against the massacres by the imperialist puppet regime of Assad. Let us turn every factory, mine, commercial farm, into a Tahrir square! Let us raise the banner of a free Palestine with a workers’ government and the overthrow of the Zionist regime and all exploitative regimes around the world. Let us unite as workers to expel imperialism from the DRC, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, from the entire Africa!
Some proposed demands
· Equal pay for equal work
· Immediate end of casual labour and labour broking
· Expropriate all imperialist assets, without compensation, place these under workers’ control
· Down with multi-year agreement- wages should rise when prices rise
· Share the work among all who can work, without loss of pay
· End the TRA’s (like Blikkiesdorp) – these are nothing but concentration camps- we call for adequate housing, low rental, for all, close to places of work with exemption for the unemployed, low paid and pensioners
· Out the SACP and Cosatu leaders who make deals with the capitalists and the ANC government for modern slavery (labour broking) to stay
Mobilise for a real General Strike, not a stayaway
We should mobilise for General strike committees to prepare for occupation of the workplaces. This would immediately pose the question about who holds the real power. We need to call on the workers in the region and in the imperialist centres such as the USA, UK, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Spain to join us. Workers need to break the alliance with the capitalist ANC and SACP. Out with the pro-capitalist leaders!
Forward to a revolutionary working class party, as part of the refounding of the Fourth International!
Forward to working class power! Forward to Socialism!
Only the working class in power can meet our demands! Workers of the world unite, we have nothing to lose but our chains!