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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Speeches

SACP message of solidarity to the workers during the occasion of the COSATU-led national protest action on the World Day for Decent Work delivered by General Secretary Cde Blade Nzimande

7 October 2015

Dear Comrades, today is the World Day for Decent Work.

Today the SACP is joining Cosatu, millions of South African workers as well as billions throughout the world in the struggle for decent work. Neo-liberalism globally has targeted rolling back decent work as its basis to increase profitability in recent decades.

Fight retrenchments and labour brokerage!

Here in our own country, the capitalist bosses have been no different, and we are currently faced with the spectre of massive retrenchments in the mining and steel industries, at SASOL and in a number of other private capitalist sectors. Retrenchments, casualisation and labour brokers are a threat to decent work, and the SACP fully supports you in the struggles against these capitalist actions.

When things are going well, like a few years back when there was a commodity boom in the mining industry, the bosses alone enjoy the wealth produced by the workers. But as soon as these sectors are in trouble, like is the case now, it is the workers alone who bear the brunt through retrenchments and casualisation.

Retrenchments are a declaration of war on the workers and the poor, and are a total disregard and indifference by the capitalist bosses to the national imperative of fighting the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

We are also calling upon government, as the custodian of the owners of the mineral wealth beneath the soil, to use its power to allocate mining licenses in a manner that promotes decent work and minimize job losses.

The law states that the mineral wealth of our country belongs to the people as a whole. Therefore any company which is given a licence to mine those minerals must be subject to terms and conditions laid down by government, including the promotion of job creation.

The SACP has called for a multi-stakeholder mining indaba to reflect on the transformation of the mining industry and realign it with our goals for national transformation.

On SASOL, a company created by the apartheid state, but conveniently privatised in the lead up to our democratic breakthrough in 1994, has been raking in billions of rands when the price of oil is high. This is because locally produced petroleum by SASOL is charged at international prices.

The SACP has consistently called for the re-nationalisation of SASOL. But at the very least, and as a step towards such nationalisation, we call for a windfall tax on the profits of SASOL. Now that the price of oil is down, we reject that it is the workers who must now suffer.

Similarly, ArcelorMittal, again a state owned company under apartheid, has been raking in profits by charging its locally produced steel at international prices, is threatening huge retrenchments and even company closures now that things are difficult. We welcome government's intervention to assist in the steel sector, together with its insistence that job losses must be avoided as a condition for such assistance.

Surely it cannot be that it is only the responsibility of government to protect jobs, whilst capitalist bosses are only interested in protecting their super profits and the obscene salaries of their executives, irrespective of economic conditions.

As a nation, we must exercise our democratic national sovereignty. This requires that the state, as declared in the Freedom Charter, must regulate mining and all other industry and trade in the interest of the people as a whole - the majority of whom is the working class! This is essential as we are celebrating 60 years of the Freedom Charter this year.

Since 1994 we have made huge and commendable progress in terms of social programmes improving the quality of life of millions of our people. Millions of South Africans now have access to housing, electricity, clean drinking water, basic and vastly improved access to higher education, social grants, HIV treatment and many other social achievements. Most of these for free! But all the private capitalist bosses are defending, are their super profits without due regard to other national imperatives.

Transform the financial sector and push for banks which will serve the people!

The SACP also wishes to use this occasion to call upon the workers of our country to support our campaign for the radical transformation of the financial sector. In the financial sector we have been faced with a destructive phenomenon of neoliberalism and financialisation. In simple language this means that we are living in a capitalist world that is based on a false notion that the market will best serve the interests of everyone, rich and poor. Yet we know that it is this very same capitalist market that is responsible for the crisis of inequality that our country and the world face today. The capitalist neo-liberal market has gone so crazy as to turn some of the workers into modern day slaves by labour brokers - companies earning money worked for by such workers and not themselves.

The world economy is today increasingly moving away from investment into productive sectors of our economy - factories, physical infrastructure, etc. - and more into trading money with money. Even shops that are supposed to be selling goods they have now become omashonisa. Many furniture shops and chain stores for instance today make more money by lending you money and through credit cards, than from the furniture and the products they sell.

The National Credit Regulator has just released a report that South Africa has reached its highest levels ever in terms of people with impaired credit records. All because of the drive to make profits at any cost by finance and financialised institutions, including through reckless lending.

It is estimated that there are 19 million credit active South Africans who have such impaired credit records. More than 11 million were categorised as over-indebted.

The loans and high interest rates that millions of our people owe means that they are more working to pay banks and micro lenders than to look after themselves, their families and meet their basic needs.

The SACP is not opposed to credit for productive use and investment. What we are opposed to is reckless lending and other practices that corner people into debt traps and result in over-indebtedness - all for nothing but consumerist spending.

In the housing sector, it is estimated that around 10,000 homes are being repossessed by the banks annually in South Africa. This level of eviction can only be comparable to apartheid-era Group Areas removals. The homes which were bought at their market value, are then then sold at auction. Worst case scenario involved a house sold at R10. In other cases, owners have been jailed through the creation of falsified title deeds and extensive corruption in both the banking sector and judicial system.

What does the SACP want?

The Treasury must institute an investigation into the state of affairs in this regard with regard to evictions, property fraud and criminal syndicates in the housing and property sector. There must be corrective regulatory and legislative steps to build a humane system of handling these matters in a way that puts people first!

The Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng must also institute an investigation into the whole process of authorisation of house repossessions.

The SACP is initiating processes on both fronts.

The National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) must convene the second financial sector summit early in 2016 to deal with all other issues concerning transformation in the financial sector.

The financial sector and banks must be transformed to serve the people!

Private monopoly domination of the banking sector must come to an end!

There must be diversity and an enabling environment for the development of worker owned co-operative banks.

There must be decisive action to develop a state-owned bank!

This and the state owned Post-Bank must be differentiated from ordinary commercial and capitalist investment banks!

The state and Post-Bank must entrusted with a mandate for development, including new venture creation. They should not be subject to the same set framework that applies to commercial banks.

There must more investment in the Post-Bank, for the further development of its capacity, for its diversification and full licencing.

The state must direct its financial transactions, including social grants away from corrupt tenders such as the Cash Paymaster into the Post-Bank.

Free the media from private monopoly!

Ownership of South Africa's media today is among the most concentrated in the world, despite the fact that all empirical research shows that ownership concentration negatively affects democracy, diversity of perspective and even digital access.

An apartheid era company, Naspers, a company that refused to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concerning its complicity in colonial oppression and apartheid, is dominant in the media. Reports suggest that it has also colonised the SABC, our public broadcaster.

The invaluable heritage of SABC archives has been handed over to Naspers' Multichoice for peanuts, with conditions that have the effect of denying millions of South Africans access to those archives unless they enrich Multichoice by subscribing to DSTV boxes.

All of this monopoly must come to an end!

The SABC-Multichoice dealings must be investigated!

Corruption in the media must be dealt with decisively as should be case everywhere it rears its ugly head!

We need a diverse media!

We need robustly independent accountability that is independent both from sector and the government and that is fair to all!

Unite the working class, our communities, and our movement!

The SACP will continue to focus on this revolutionary task to unite the working class, our communities, and our movement!

As the SACP, we fully support all principled worker struggles, including, the current bargaining campaign by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

The SACP is doing so in a principled manner, fully appreciating and sensitive to the fact that we are not a trade union but a working class political party.

And today, 7th October 2015, the SACP is joining COSATU's action in active expression of solidarity against the jobs bloodbath declared by the mining and steel bosses, SASOL and other companies in different sectors.

We here to advance the campaign for banning of labour brokers! Down with labour brokers down!

The SACP stands for, and supports COSATU, on the need for an affordable, accessible, safe, reliable and integrated public transport system!

As the SACP we are here today, side by side with COSATU, face-to-face and toe-to-toe with the bosses!

We would like to issue a stern warning, to those who seek to gamble with the unity of the trade union and our liberation movement as a whole! Divisions, dear comrades, can only serve the bosses.

Let us unite among ourselves as the workers and the working class!

Let us unite our alliance!

Let us unite our communities!

Unity is our most important weapon. Without unity, our struggles as the workers and the working class against the tyranny of capitalist exploitation and domination by vacillating elements, will fail.