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The long-awaited process of building a new united front of radical forces in South Africa proposed and supported by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has kicked off with a meeting on December 13-14, 2014. Below is the declaration issued by the meeting. Read more about recent developments in South Africa HERE.
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Declaration of the Preparatory Assembly of the United Front, Johannesburg
December 14, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Globally we are experiencing the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s. Wars and counter-revolutions stretch from the Middle East to the far-east to Africa and the Americas. Imperialism knows no constraint. The devastating ecological and climate crises are caused by a predatory capitalist system that is endangering the very existence of humanity.
December 17, 2014 -- COSATU, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A response to comrade Jeremy Cronin and an open letter to leaders and members of the South African Communist Party (SACP), by Zwelinzima Vavi (pictured), general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
Read more about recent developments in South Africa HERE.
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After reading Comrade Jeremy Cronin's public response to my address on 21 November 2014 at the ceremony to mark the 40 years of the South African Labour Bulletin on the topic "Is the labour movement at the turning point?", I was convinced that a public debate was necessary, not just with comrade Jeremy but with the entire leadership and membership of the SACP. I am doing this not just as a General Secretary of COSATU but also as a member of the SACP.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) responds to the "Exposed: Secret Regime Change Plot to Distabilize South Africa" document
December 3, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over the last 10-days, a document that alleges that NUMSA leaders are involved in an underground plot to destabilise South Africa has been doing its rounds. The document which is entitled "Exposed: Secret Regime Change Plot to Distabilize [sic] South Africa" names two elected national officer bearers of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), Irvin Jim and Karl Cloete as the kingpins of the plot (see here in PDF).
Por Unión Nacional de Trabajadores Metalúrgicos de Sudáfrica (NUMSA) y también Dale McKinley
23/11/2014 -- Sin Permiso -- Ha pasado lo que habíamos advertido a los trabajadores sudafricanos y al público en general. El Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Metalúrgicos de Sudáfrica (NUMSA), con sus 350.000 miembros fue expulsado del Congreso de Sindicatos de Sudáfrica (COSATU) en las primeras horas de la mañana del sábado (después de la una de la mañana), 08 de noviembre 2014 , en una reunión del Comité Central Ejecutivo Extraordinario (SCEC). Esta expulsión tuvo lugar tras una votación 33 a 24.
Speech by Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), to mark the 40th anniversary of the South African Labour Bulletin
November 21, 2014 -- COSATU, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- First let me say congratulations to the South African Labour Bulletin on its remarkable achievement of 40 years of uninterrupted critical publishing. Thank you for the honour of this invitation. For 40 years you have provided a voice to the voiceless; you exposed the brutality of the capitalist system that continue to brutally exploit workers; you have created space for policy debates that shaped the policies not only of trade unions but of the liberation movement as a whole.
Democratic Left Front (South Africa): 'Defend NUMSA! Struggle for an independent, socialist workers' movement'
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.
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.
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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
RE: THE CRISIS IN THE FEDERATION
November 12, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
To the comrades of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA),
The Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM, Party of the Labouring Masses), a socialist political party in the Philippines, sends its strongest solidarity to the comrades and leaders of NUMSA who are now fighting for the renewal of militant trade unionism and socialism in South Africa.
NUMSA was recently expelled in the Congress of South African Trade Unions federation through the maneouverings of its central executive committee. The central executive committee of COSATU supports the neoliberal program of the African National Congress government, while NUMSA does not. NUMSA has consistently opposed the neoliberal policies of the ANC government and stood for an independent trade union federation.
From the NUMSA press statement itself, we gathered that the real reason for NUMSA’s expulsion has been its consistent rejection of the ANC governmental policies which harm the interests of the workers and the South African masses.
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.
[See also '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.]
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.
South Africa: 'We will continue to mobilise the working class for socialism', NUMSA's defiant response to COSATU
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4015.]
27. August 2014 -- Einartysken -- Etwa 30 Gäste aus der ganzen Welt und 120 Ordnungskräfte der Nationalen Gewerkschaft der Metallarbeiter Südafrikas (NUMSA) trafen vom 7. - 10. August in Johannisburg zusammen, um die Aussichten und Herausforderungen des Aufbaus einer neuen linken politischen Alternative zur Herrschft des African National Congress (ANC), die Partei des verstorbenen Nationalhelden Nelson Mandela zu diskutieren.
Dieser Aufruf der größten Gewerkschaft des Landes mit über 400 000 Mitgliedern hat Widerhall in der gesamten Arbeiterklasse gefunden und manche in den Medien zur Aussage veranlasst, diesen Prozess als Möglichkeit zu sehen, "die Geburt einer Arbeiterpartei hervorzurufen, die am Ende [die ANC] herausfordern könnte".
NUMSAs Herausforderung des etablierten status quo hat auch die vielen Gefahren beleuchtet, die ihr bevorstehen, was drastisch durch den Mord an drei Ordnungskräften am Vorabend des Symposiums illustriert wurde.
Dass der Aufruf der NUMSA so viel Aufmerksamkeit erhalten hat, kann durch die Realität der südafrikanischen Gesellschaft zwanzig Jahre nach dem Fall der Apartheid erklärt werden.
Striking NUMSA members, July 2014.
August 23, 2014 -- A version of this article was first published at TeleSUR English, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Around 30 guests from across the globe and 120 shop stewards from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) met August 7-10, 2014, in Johannesburg to discuss the prospects and challenges of building a new, left political alternative to the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the party of deceased national hero Nelson Mandela.
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.
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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.
'Do unto apartheid Israel what you did to apartheid South Africa': trade unions protest attack on Gaza
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.
By Dale McKinley
June 26, 2014 -- Municipal Service Project, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- This paper critically analyses the context and practical experience of labour-community alliances to oppose privatisation and promote public services, as they have evolved in South Africa since 1994.
While 1980s South Africa was rich in such broad and politically independent alliances against the oppressive apartheid system and the ravages of neoliberal capitalism, following the 1994 democratic transition the labour movement largely embraced the neoliberal corporatism promoted by the African National Congress-run state, which increased the social distance between employed workers and poor communities.
Consistent attempts to repress community-led dissent in response to the political and socio-economic failures of the "new" democracy, and the resulting delegitimisation of community struggles related to the nature of public institutions and delivery of public services, undermined further the bases for unity.