1 May 2013
The South African Students Congress (SASCO) joins the millions of our revolutionary workers in South Africa in commemorating the May Day. May Day remains a revolutionary symbol of worker solidarity and resilience in defending the rights of those who own nothing but their labour power. Workers in different parts of the world have been engaged in battles against bosses who are only interested in maximising profits. Today we celebrate the heroic struggles of working people throughout the world. We call upon workers of the world to continue with the struggle to abolish capitalism and build socialism.
As South African students, we will forever remain grateful for the important role played by South African workers, organised under FOSATU (and later its successor COSATU) and other unaffiliated progressive unions, for their revolutionary role in bringing the racist Apartheid regime down to its knees. We commend COSATU for its historical and progressive approach in waging working class struggles beyond the shop-floor. COSATU has always been a staunch proponent of social movement unionism. As we celebrate Workers Day today, we should not make a mistake of speaking only about workers as it their struggles are confined to the workplace. We must also speak about their role in the broader working class struggles.
In South Africa, COSATU was instrumental in ensuring the promulgation of progressive labour laws and economic policies aimed at redressing the imbalances of the Apartheid era. Among the hard-won progressive labour laws that the labour movement fought for include, among others, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Labour Relations Act of 1995, Employment Equity Act of 1998 and the Skills Development Act. Even the erstwhile Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) was heavily influenced and shaped by South African workers under the banner of COSATU. Today we celebrate South African workers because they never took our political freedom for granted.
Employers in the contemporary neo-liberal South Africa have suddenly grown wings. They undermine the very progressive labour laws aimed at protecting our workers against super-exploitation and undermining of their organisational rights. Casualisation and labour brokering are on the rise despite the government's rhetoric on decent work. Unions are being bashed and destroyed as we watch. The bosses have gained extra-ordinary courage in pitting workers and their organisations against each other. Working class struggles continue to be met with police violence and brutality.
Ironically, some departments of our ANC led government have turned against workers by unilaterally withdrawing collective bargaining agreements. Proposed policies such as the youth wage subsidy are aimed at displacing workers from decent jobs and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. We call upon South African workers to totally reject the right-wing National Development Plan (NDP) and call for the immediate implementation of the Freedom Charter. SASCO remains a reliable ally in the workers struggles!
Ngoako Selamolela, SASCO President, 071 875 2224
Themba Masondo, SASCO Secretary General, 079 199 3421