Manifestos and Reality

A Presentation to the Cape Town Press Club by NUMSA General Secretary – Published on Socialist Project’s E-Bulletin no 936, by Irvin Jim, Feb 14, 2014.

I speak to you today with a powerful and united mandate from 341,150 metalworkers. They made their views extremely clear in our workers’ parliament in December last year – the parliament we called the NUMSA Special National Congress. In that parliament there was vigorous debate. Every delegate knew that they would have to account to their constituency. We are justifiably proud of our democratic heritage. We know that what we decide has the backing of our members. We don’t have to change decisions after the Congress has spoken, as some do, even though there are those who would urge us to “come to our senses” and take NUMSA in another direction from the decisions of that Congress … //

… Taking Sides, Splitting with Old Allies: … //

… State of the Nation: … //

… NUMSA’s Response:

So, what is NUMSA’s response to the state of our nation? It was against this background that NUMSA’s Special National Congress debated and passed its ground-breaking resolutions.

  • The Congress demanded accountability for the Marikana massacre right from the Minister and the National commissioner of police downwards, including all politicians who were involved. Those who were party to this massacre of workers must go.
  • The Congress decided that NUMSA will not spend workers’ money on the ANC campaign and we will not, as a union, campaign for the ANC. I have already today given you enough explanation for that decision.
  • The Congress resolved that NUMSA will play a central role, as a catalyst, in the building of a united front. That United Front will take up the bread and butter issues of the working-class. It will link our struggles on the shop floor with our struggles in our communities. It will build an irresistible force for fundamental change.
  • The Congress agreed to open the scope of our union to organize across value chains. This has been necessitated by the global restructuring of capitalism.
  • The Congress mandated the NUMSA leadership to study, research and investigate various forms of independent working-class parties and to serve as a catalyst to form a party. Such a party would contest elections at an appropriate time. This resolution came from the understanding that unless the working-class organizes itself as a class for itself, it will remain unrepresented and for ever toil behind the bourgeoisie.
  • The Congress also called on the COSATU leadership to convene a COSATU Special Congress in line with the COSATU Constitution, with immediate effect. And it called on COSATU to break out of the alliance, which has failed to use the political power it secured in 1994 to take ownership and control of the national wealth of our country and replace the white racist colonial economy.
  • Finally the Congress threw its weight behind the campaign of rolling mass action initiated by the NUMSA structures to demand fundamental change in the direction of the South African economy and society.

So, on February 26th, NUMSA has called for a national strike and community action to demand an end to the Employment Tax Incentive Act:

  • It will not encourage real employment creation
  • It discourages decent work
  • It will lead to the displacement of unsubsidized workers.

Instead we demand the fundamental restructuring of the economy to create jobs through building manufacturing industry. When it comes to the young people of South Africa, we demand from the government:

  • Provide us with free tertiary education
  • Build stronger links between FETs and industry
  • Give career guidance at schools to match youth to skills needed in the economy
  • Use infrastructure projects to train local youth.

And we demand from employers:

  • Invest in your workforce through training and development
  • Increase your intake of interns and apprentices
  • Support the FETs and disadvantaged schools in your area
  • Use the infrastructure project tenders that you win to train local youth.

We are calling for the working-class and the poor of South Africa to demonstrate in their numbers on February 26th that we have had enough. The nation must be protected from those who are destroying it. February 26th is the beginning of our rolling mass action throughout 2014. We are starting to build the irresistible force that will take back our nation and build it in the interests of the majority.

Adopted by the NUMSA Special NEC on 15th September 2013, Issued publicly by: Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary.

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