Healing and building unity were the central theme and outcome of the National Office Bearers’ (NOBs) meeting that took place on 06 June 2022. This was the first meeting of the South African Federation of Trade Unions’ (SAFTU) NOBs since they were installed by the Second National Congress that sat from 23 – 26 May 2022.
The NOBs acknowledge the challenges the leadership of the federation faced and experienced, and committed towards the path of healing, renewal, and building. In the context of the attacks on workers from bosses and government, the labour movement and the federation in particular cannot be sidetracked by squabbles and disunity.
It is prudent for the leadership of the federation to achieve unity. And that though differences are bound to arise as leaders are not programmed robots but independent thinkers, they must have differences that do not lead to path of destruction. The NOBs are determined to lead by example in management of differences that should not be allowed to be antagonisms.
SAFTU is not just a beacon of hope to its members, but to the broader working-class movement and genuine working-class fighters who have given us a vote of confidence by acknowledging the catalytic role SAFTU ought to play in anchoring unity of the workingclass movement.
Such a special catalytic role is not given to us by individuals but by history itself. It is history that has bestowed upon our shoulders the important role to move the wheels of history in favour of the working class. The class betrayals working people have suffered at the hands of the tripartite alliance, which has effectively tied the working class to their butcherers ¾ capitalists, have left SAFTU as a federation that must anchor the unity of the broader left which will effectively wage a class war against bosses.
SAFTU NOBs acknowledge the historic role they should play, and do not wish such historic task to fail in their hands. It is on this basis that we have declared unity is prudent and non-negotiable, especially if SAFTU is to carry out its historical tasks. NEC, Unity and Campaigns Programme
The SAFTU NOBs have agreed to convene the first National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting between the 4th and 8th of July 2022. In between now and the NEC, the NOBs will meet all affiliates individually as a way to take these affiliates into confidence about the unity process, and the tasks ahead.
This first NEC after the National Congress will have open discussion amongst NEC members to heal. Healing will be a process not just an event. In addition, the NEC will adopt a programme that takes forward the 2nd National Congress decisions as summarised in the declaration.
The programme will include amongst others:
• Calling on the president and the national minimum wage commission to review the national minimum wage. The current minimum wage set at R23.19 per hour, generates an income of R3 895,92 for those who work 8 hours per day and 21 days per month; and generates R4 081 per month for those who work 8
hours per day and 22 days per month.
In the context of the rising costs of living, characterized by the rising prices of basic goods and service such as electricity, fuel, water and refuse, food basket and interest rates; the minimum wage must also increase.
Headline inflation has hit 5.9% mark in March and April 2022, and in reality this means: electricity has increased by 9.4% in April 2022 (and is set to increase 7.5% in July 2022) where 35 units costs R100 in areas like Johannesburg; household food basket costs R4 606 per month; liters of Petrol and Diesel now costs R24.17 (95 unleaded) and R23.12 (ppm50) respectively; and interest rates are shooting up the roof to their pre-pandemic levels.
• Calling on the Department of Social Development to reinstate the Green Paper that was withdrawn in August 2021. Though with few exceptions, SAFTU had welcomed the comprehensive social security plan because the creation of a retirement fund for precariat workers amongst others, in both formal and informal
sectors, is important.
Our support for the paper is informed further by the fact that it also makes a case for the introduction of the Basic Income Grant. SAFTU has previously called for the Basic Income Grant to be introduced at R1500, just R150 above the Upper Bound Poverty Line (UBPL). But the rising costs of living have also brought the
R1 500 into question, as to whether it is adequate to provide a protection floor!
In the absence of unity and cohesion, SAFTU will not be able to effectively fight for the realisation of these objectives. In the upcoming period, the cohesion of SAFTU trade union affiliates and their unity with the working-class organisations is essential to ensure a protracted struggle to push back against austerity is waged. SAFTU NOBs are committed to steer the federation along the path of its founding principle as a fighting militant trade union federation.
In this regard, we are convening a Working Class Summit together with our allies in July. This Summit must unite trade unions, the youth, students, women, communities and a range of other working formations into a single fighting force that will push back against austerity, retrenchments and wage freezes for service delivery and anti-corruption.