Why we support the security guards strike
The capitalist media have gone on the offensive to condemn the strike of the security guards and the violence that has gone with it. The DA, with the blessing of the ANC, has banned strike activity for 2 weeks in Cape Town. What are the underlying issues in the strike?
The nature of the security ‘industry’
The security guards are trained to protect capitalist assets, in other words they help maintain the exploitative relations under capitalism, namely that the capitalist class can continue to exploit workers by not paying them the real value of their labour. The security guards are trained in the use of violence to protect ‘assets’ of the capitalist from ‘reposession’ by the working class. It enables the capitalist class to pay workers just enough for workers to survive from hand to mouth, from week to week. Without security guards and the state repressive machinery [the police, the courts, the army, etc] workers would have just taken back the fruits of their labour. Without security guards and the state machinery, the capitalist class would not be able to exist. Also, the security guards produce no goods nor is the work they do indirectly related to production, such as cleaning workers are. Thus the capitalists in this sector are purely parasitic on exploitation of the working class. When security guards are used against strikers or against workers every day, this is regarded as legitimate violence by the captains of the capitalist press.
The international crisis and outsourcing
The international crisis of falling profits of the capitalist class has meant that they have launched numerous attacks on the working class. Part of this has been the drive for outsourcing. One of the job functions that has been outsourced has been the work of the security guards. Across the board, wages of the security guards have been cut and conditions imposed of what can be described as military-style slave labour. That this has been one of the few sectors to mushroom in recent times is a reflection of the growing inequality under capitalism today. There is a greater need to guard capitalist assets due to a greater desperation among the working class and social decay caused by greater robbery by the capitalist classes. The conditions of the security guards is part of the structural capitalist violence against them. Companies pay R3000 per month for contract security but only R1500 or less goes to the wages of the security guard. Other gains which workers take for granted such as toilet breaks, lunch and tea breaks, a 45 hour week, etc have been stripped away by these sector capitalists. This daily violence against the security guard goes unreported in the capitalist press.
The strike itself
That 14 unions signed for continued slave conditions in the security sector is a comment on their supposed independence. These union leaders are nothing else but agents of the capitalists within the workers movement. That the Satawu leaders have not signed for the wage deal is more a reflection of the militancy of their worker base than of their class independence. The Satawu members have organised strong worker assemblies in various regions that have been the mainstay of the strike. The suffering of the security guards has also reached breaking point that reflects itself in the shattered windows of the capitalists. This is a reflection of the legitimate anger of the security guards. That smaller businesses and informal traders have also been targeted is an indication of a lack of consciousness on the part of the security strikers. We condemn the role of the police in brutalising the strikers through rubber bullets and arrests; the disruption of strikers’ meetings by the police is nothing else but a strike breaking attack by the state on behalf of the capitalist class as a whole.
During the strike the capitalist class has been paying over their monthly payments to the security companies despite there being no-one at work. The strike has thus been a massive boost to the coffers of the security companies. The security bosses have been so used to massive super-exploitation that to hire the extra security guards to cover the lunch and tea breaks would be a blow to their profit levels. The CCMA [Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration] proves toothless to enforce a simple demand for a lunch break, showing that in the final analysis it provides a respectable cover for the continued exploitation of the working class. Democratic demands are subject to continued wage slavery of the working class by the capitalists. This is why the bosses have been so intransigent [unwilling to negotiate] over demands which have been won a long time ago by the rest of the working class. A demand such as 4 months paid maternity leave, is also regarded by the bosses as unreasonable. The ANC and DA women’s sections are silent over this modest demand by the security guards.
On the disruption of the Cosatu MayDay rally in Cape Town: Again this was due to a lack of consciousness by the security guards. Their main allies in the fight against the bosses are the organised working class. The disruption must be severely criticised nevertheless. The anger of the workers should have been directed at the Cosatu leaders who thought it more important to have a joint rally with the same government that is refusing to legislate better conditions for security guards, than to accommodate the strikers. This is part of a long standing problem in Cosatu that is rooted in the Stalinist view of the SACP that the ANC [a nationalist multi-class organisation] is the leader of the struggle for democratic rights of the working class.
The appropriate demand for Cosatu to raise here was to organise a solidarity strike in support of the demands of the security guards. This is important to win this sector closer to the industrial proletariat [working class] in the war with the capitalist class.
On the DA-ANC alliance:The joint stand by the ANC and DA to ban strikes in Cape Town , including the Cosatu strike against unemployment on the 18th May shows that when capitalist profits are really threatened they will join forces against the working class. What happened to the Constitutional right to protest? In essence the rights of the ex-CCB-types in the security sector to super-exploit the workers are being defended by the state while legitimate working class demands for lunch and tea breaks are trampled upon. The joint intervention of the ANC and the DA reflects the concern from the capitalist class that other workers in other sectors may also become organised like the security guards and use tactics such as becoming armed to defend their strikes and the struggles for their demands. This raises the fundamental question as to which class can guarantee even basic democratic rights for the working class. The reality of the security strike shows that the capitalist class, the middle class- be it black or white or whatever colour, has no interest in advancing working class interests. Indeed as the Workers International Vanguard League, WIVL, we say that only the working class in power has the political will to advance the democratic struggle to its completion.
Disband the security companies – All security guards must be taken on as full time workers, with full benefits, at the workplaces they service!
Forward to the demands of the security guards for a living wage, for lunch and tea breaks, for maternity leave!
Forward to solidarity actions by the working class in defence of the demands of the security guards!
No to a sellout of the strike by the Cosatu leaders!
Down with police brutality against the strikers!
Down with state banning of the right to protest!
Forward to working class power!
Forward to Socialism!