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trade unions

South Africa: NUMSA's expulsion from COSATU is 'an attack on the poor and an attack on workers'

Statement by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

November 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What we have warned the South African workers and broader public about has come to pass. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) with its 350,000 members was expelled as an affiliate by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in the early hours of Saturday morning (after 1 am), November 8, 2014, at a Special Central Executive Committee meeting (SCEC). This expulsion took place through a vote which was 33 for our expulsion and 24 against.

Democratic Left Front (South Africa): 'Defend NUMSA! Struggle for an independent, socialist workers' movement'

For more on NUMSA, click HERE. More from the Democratic Left Front.

Statement by the Democratic Left Front (South Africa)

November 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In December 1985, millions of oppressed and exploited in South Africa and indeed across the world celebrated the birth of a giant of the working class, the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU).

Forged in struggles on factory floors, mine shafts, farms and homes of the rich across the country, the independent trade union movement became a powerful expression of the unity of the working class. COSATU embodied the principles of workers’ democracy and unity, fought for improvements in the lives of ordinary workers and played a leading role in the struggle against apartheid and for socialism.

On the eve of its 30th anniversary, COSATU’s rich legacy of independent workers’ struggles is being torn asunder. The expulsion of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) by the leadership clique of COSATU threatens the very existence of the federation.

South Africa: 'I can’t defend the expulsion of NUMSA' -- COSATU general secretary

For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

November 13, 2104 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (pictured above) was absent from the COSATU media briefing on November 11, in the aftermath of the November 8 expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). In the letter below, he explains why.

* * *

Letter from COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to the COSATU affiliates and others, November 11, 2014

To: COSATU president
COSATU affiliated general secretaries
COSATU provincial secretaries

November 11, 2014

Dear Comrades

RE: THE CRISIS IN THE FEDERATION

South Africa: The political significance of NUMSA's expulsion from COSATU

NUMSA members dance at a demonstration.

By Dale McKinley, Johannesburg

November 10, 2014 -- South African Civil Society Information Service, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- It is arguably the most important political development of South Africa’s post-1994 era. In the early hours of November 8, South Africa’s largest union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), was expelled by the majority of the leadership belonging to South Africa’s largest union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

The political significance of NUMSA’s expulsion derives from three key, inter-related areas of impact.

South Africa: 'We will continue to mobilise the working class for socialism', NUMSA's defiant response to COSATU

[For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

By Irvin Jim, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) general secretary

November 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below are the speaking notes Jim's presentation to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Central Executive Committee meeting to discuss the union's expulsion from the federation, on November 7, 2014. After meeting through the night, delegates voted 33-24 in favour of expelling NUMSA, South Africa's biggest trade union, the largest union in the federation and a vocal critic of President Jacob Zuma's neoliberal regime.

* * *

Comrades,

I stand here as the General Secretary of the biggest affiliate of this federation, as a founding member at the Congress of 1985. I will be reminding comrades here of our common history.

South Africa: 'Labour movement is at a crossroads', nine COSATU affiliates declare

NUMSA members.

[For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

November 5, 2014 -- Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

By the nine COSATU affiliates

A. Our objectives

After the 11th COSATU Congress in 2012, the Federation was gripped by a paralysing ideological, political, administrative and organisational crisis. We have analysed this crisis, and at our first joint press conference, stated the following, as the basis of our common approach:

1. To explicitly clarify what the progressive forces inside COSATU are campaigning for and what they are seeking to achieve.

2. To provide a clear set of demands to serve as the basis for mobilising a majority of workers in COSATU for a decisive break with class collusion and for trade union independence.

3. To regenerate a vibrant worker controlled organisational culture in COSATU with a leadership that is committed to the highest democratic and accountable processes.

South Africa: NUMSA rejects ANC attempts to split COSATU, turn it against socialism

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

Statement by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA)

October 27, 2014 -- NUMSA, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) was born in 1985, the federation brought together many different trade unions with different organisational, political and administrative cultures and traditions.

From 1981, it took four long hard years to emerge from the unity talks with the establishment of the largest federation in South Africa in December 1985.

The COSATU we formed, over its 29 years of existence, has grown and been united, by the following values:

1. COSATU is an independent, fearless and democratic trade union federation: it confronted the Apartheid regime and survived! COSATU is shaped and had existed premised on the following key and core values;

a. COSATU is a revolutionary socialist federation.

b. COSATU is an anti-imperialist federation: it fights against foreign capitalist domination.

Review: Behind China's wildcat strike wave

Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China
By Eli Friedman
Cornell University Press/ILR Press, 2014.

By Jane Slaughter

October 15, 2014 -- Labor Notes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- China is the world centre of wildcat strikes—given that no strike in China is officially allowed under the law. The government doesn’t issue statistics, but one source found 1171 strikes and worker protests from June 2011 through 2013.

Sudáfrica: “Hay que volver a reivindicar la Carta de la Libertad”

Nelson Mandela con el también acusado Ruth First (centro) y el Congreso de los demócratas apoya Rose Schlachte durante el juicio de la traición, que comenzó en 1957.

[English at http://links.org.au/node/4004.]

"Esta es la tarea revolucionaria del momento: la construcción de órganos democráticos de la clase obrera, los sindicatos, el movimiento cívico y un partido revolucionario de vanguardia socialista para derrotar al capitalismo colonial y racista sudafricano" -- Irvin Jim.

21/09/2014 -- Sinpermiso -- Irvin Jim, secretario general del Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Metalúrgicos de Sudáfrica (NUMSA), leyó el siguiente texto en la 12ª Conferencia Anual en memoria de Ruth First (1), en la Universidad de Witswatersrand de Johannesburgo. Puedo decir simplemente: Señoras y señores, compañeros y amigos reunidos en esta 12 Conferencia Conmemorativa de Ruth.

Por favor, permítanme agradecer a la Universidad de Witwatersrand por su enorme coraje al invitar a un humilde dirigente iletrado de un sindicato negro para pronunciar la 12 ª Conferencia en memoria de Ruth First. Gracias, muchas gracias.

South Africa: Workers need to speak with 'one voice', but whose voice?

[For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

September 14, 2014 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission --  The labour movement is coming under increasing pressure as the global economic crisis continues to bite. On the South African front the pressure is growing as the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) labour federation fails to deal with the internal divisions that threaten to tear the federation apart. Or at least further fragment the country’s largest union organisation.

This much has been admitted by COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. He noted in August that “unions are in a state of paralysis”. Addressing the Food and Allied Workers’ Union congress in Johannesburg he said that “workers’ issues are being sidelined even by COSATU itself”. And it is the unions themselves that should sort these matters out.

Caroline Lund: Reflections of a trade union militant and socialist

Caroline Lund at work.

By Barry Sheppard

August 25, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Caroline Lund was for many years a leader of the US Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and for some years of the Fourth International. She and I resigned from the SWP in 1988.

In 1992 she got a job at an automobile factory in Freemont, California, called New United Motors, Inc. (NUMMI). She became an activist in the plant and the United Auto Workers locally and nationally. In 1998, she began to publish a plant newsletter, The Barking Dog.

South Africa: 'Return to the Freedom Charter'! -- NUMSA leader Irvin Jim's Ruth First Memorial Lecture

Nelson Mandela with fellow accused Ruth First (centre) and Congress of Democrats supporter Rose Schlachte during the Treason Trial, which began in 1957.

“The revolutionary task of the moment: building democratic organs of the working class, trade unions, the civic movement and a revolutionary socialist vanguard party to defeat South African colonial and racist capitalism.” -- Irvin Jim.

August 14, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), presented the 12th annual Ruth First Memorial Lecture at the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, in memory of the revolutionary activist who was assassinated by the apartheid regime in 1982.

* * *

May I simply say: Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends gathered at this 12th Ruth First Memorial Lecture.

Please allow me to thank the University of the Witwatersrand for taking a very brave and big risk: inviting a humble, unlettered leader of a black trade union to give the 12th Ruth First Memorial Lecture.

We thank you, very much.

South Africa: NUMSA hosts international symposium of left parties and movements, August 7-10, 2014

Internationalism: Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa sing their solidarity with the people of Gaza. Filmed at a demonstration in Port Elizabeth on July 25, 2014.

For more on NUMSA, click HERE.

By Castro Ngobese, NUMSA national spokesperson

August 5, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) will be hosting an International Symposium of Left Parties/Movements in Benoni, Kopanong Hotel, from August 7-10, 2014, under the theme: “Building our own Movement for Socialism: Learning the Lessons First Hand”.

The symposium is in line with NUMSA’s groundbreaking resolutions taken at our special national congress held in December 2013. The NUMSA delegates who attended the special national congress mandated the national leadership structures to “explore” the establishment of a Movement for Socialism given that the working class needs a political organisation committed in its policies and actions to the establishment of a Socialist South Africa.

L’esempio della Bolivia di fare le leggi con il popolo

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3984.]

Di Federico Fuentes, traduzione di Maria Chiara Starace

27 luglio 2014 -- Znet Italy -- Quando Evo Morales è stato eletto presidente della Bolivia nel 2005, ha promesso di “governare obbedendo al popolo.” La recente approvazione da parte dell’Assemblea Plurinazionale di leggi che riguardano l’attività mineraria e i diritti dei bambini, sono due esempi delle sfide e dei benefici di questo approccio radicale al governare.

Infrangendo la concezione che il legiferare dovrebbe essere confinato nelle quattro mura del parlamento, il governo boliviano ha fatto ripetuti tentativi di coinvolgere ampie sezioni della società nel riscrivere le regole del paese.

Il primo e più importante passo che si è fatto riguardo a questo, è stata la convocazione di un’Assemblea Costituente in cui i delegati eletti della comunità, insieme ai rappresentanti dei potenti movimenti sociali del paese e ad altri gruppi della società civile, hanno redatto una nuova costituzione.

La nuova carta è stata successivamente approvata da una larga maggioranza con il referendum del 2009, malgrado la campagna spesso violenta intrapresa dai gruppi dell’opposizione di destra.

Governing with the people: some examples from Bolivia

Bolivia's controversial new child labour law allows children under the age of 14 to work, but only in “exceptional circumstances”.

By Federico Fuentes

July 30, 2014 -- Bolivia Rising, an earlier version of this article was first published on the new teleSUR English website; it is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- When Evo Morales was elected president of Bolivia in 2005, he promised to “govern by obeying the people”. The recent approval by the Plurinational Assembly of laws dealing with mining and children’s rights are two examples of the challenges and benefits of this radical approach to governing.

Breaking with the conception that legislating should be confined to the four walls of parliament, the Bolivian government has made repeated efforts to involve broad sections of society in rewriting the rules of the country.

The first, and most important, step taken in this regard was the convocation of a constituent assembly in which elected delegates, together with representatives of the country’s powerful social movements and other civil society groups, drew up a new constitution.

United States: Working-class and left electoral politics back on the radar?

Click for more on left electoral politics and for more articles by Dan La Botz.

By Dan La Botz

July 2014 -- New Politics -- The US political system, so highly polarised between conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats, has experienced in the last year some interesting changes on the left-hand margin of the national political scene.

From Bill de Blasio’s victory in the mayoral election in New York City, to Kshama Sawant’s winning of a city council seat in Seattle, from the late Chokwe Lumumba’s popularly based campaign in Jackson, Mississippi, to self-described socialist Bernie Sanders’ talk of a run for the presidency, something new appears to be happening.

Independent politics and socialist party campaigns, so long marginal to US political life and from discussion in the media, seem to be back on the radar again. This is all the more remarkable given our terrible election laws that make it so difficult in so many states to get parties and candidates on the ballot.

'Do unto apartheid Israel what you did to apartheid South Africa': trade unions protest attack on Gaza

Resolution on Palestine adopted by Unite Union (Aotearoa/New Zealand), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

July 18, 2014 -- Over 170 Palestinian political parties, unions and other organisations including the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions issued a call in July 2005 for a global campaign of boycotts and divestment against Israel similar to those imposed against South African Apartheid.

Unite Union will work to

1. Demand the Israeli Government immediately withdraw from the occupied territories and abide by UN resolution 242 which requires Israel to withdraw to 1967 borders.

2. Support the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel until it meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: A history of the Unite Union

By Mike Treen, Unite national director

[All four parts of this series can be downloaded as a single PDF file here.]

June 27, 2014 -- Unite News, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The following history was prepared as part of the contribution by Unite Union to the international fast food workers' meeting in New York in early May. Union officials and workers were fascinated by the story we were able to tell which in many ways was a prequel to the international campaign today.

* * *

Australia: Socialist Alliance May Day statement -- 'More pain for workers, pensioners, poor'

Protesters outside Tony Abbott's $396/head dinner with the Sydney Institute on April 28.

Abbott's 'stronger', 'happier' Australia equals more pain for workers, pensioners and the poor

By Susan Price and Peter Boyle, Socialist Alliance co-convenors

May 1, 2014 -- Socialist Alliance -- A casino was a fitting venue to host Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott's keynote address to the 25th birthday dinner of conservative think tank, the Sydney Institute, on April 28. Abbott's speech, coming two weeks ahead of the annual budget, was full of promises of "happiness", "security" and "a better life", but in reality, Australian workers, pensioners and the poor will be lucky if they're left with much more than the shirt on their backs once the government is done fleecing them.

China: 48,000 Adidas, Nike, Timberland strikers need your solidarity

The strike at the Yue Yuen shoe factory in Dongguan, China, keeps growing: now 48,000 workers have joined. Activists are asking international supporters to leaflet stores, and to send workers encouragement via the Facebook and Twitter hashtag #ChinaSolidarity.

April 23, 2014 -- Labor Notes -- The strike at the Yue Yuen shoe factory in Dongguan, China, keeps growing. Now 48,000 workers have joined and local groups are calling for international solidarity.

Labour activists at the site, in touch directly with the workers, are asking supporters to target Adidas and Nike and demand they negotiate directly with the workers.

Yue Yuen, owned by Pou Chen Group, is the largest athletic shoe manufacturer in the world.

Workers began striking April 5 after finding out that the work contracts they had been signing with the company were fake, and that the company had been significantly underpaying their social insurance for nearly 20 years.

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