The Covid-19 pandemic has starkly exposed South Africa’s inequalities, at a time our country was already falling apart. We in SAFTU will not just fold our arms while our economy crumbles, our communities suffer and the future of our children stolen!
The battle against the pandemic did not unite South Africans, “all in this together”. It divided us further. In what is already the world’s most unequal country, rich capitalists have gotten richer, while the working class is now much poorer.
It is time to fight back! We must take the battle for our jobs, livelihoods and democratic rights to the streets. SAFTU submitted a Section 77 notice to force negotiations on our demands.
We are working to build the broadest possible unity possible with working-class formations, knowing very well that unions fighting alone will not win! The unemployed on their own will not win this fight! Other civil society organisations will not win fighting alone! We need unity more than ever before!
These are our demands:
1. Overhaul the Economy and build an egalitarian society!
Even before Covid-19, we faced an economic pandemic of soaring unemployment, grinding poverty and extreme inequality. South African capitalism restored its once-high profit rate through ANC’s policies of austerity, privatisation, relaxed exchange controls, export-led growth at all costs and environmental destruction. The system was, meanwhile, incapable of meeting even the most basic needs of its people.
Covid-19 destroyed 2.2 million jobs, and more than five million more of us were reduced to utter hopelessness, now defined as “economically inactive.” Poverty and hunger are widespread.
Capitalism fails the working class and the poor, not by default, but by design. It flourishes when there is a reserve army of unemployed labour, when there is discord and disunity amongst the working class and the poor, and the state takes capital’s side to increase exploitation and undermine civil liberties.
The bosses are using Covid as an excuse to cut wages and worsen conditions. More jobs are becoming precarious through outsourcing, zero-hours contracts or bogus self-employment status. As workers struggle against these attacks, their chief defensive weapon, the trade unions, are under attack from bosses, using laws passed recently by the ANC government which make it almost impossible for workers to exercise their constitutional right to strike and to picket.
2. We demand a new economy!
1) Reorganise all economic life based on a democratically-planned economy!
2) Build a socialist democracy where the economy is under common ownership, management and control of the working-class!
3) Nationalise strategic monopoly industries, banks and mining houses, under democratic workers’ and community control and management, and re-nationalise ArcelorMittal and Sasol!!
4) End patriarchy, xenophobia, ethnic bigotry and discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference, age or disability!
5) Unite with the world’s working classes and poor in a struggle for a socialist planet!
6) A living minimum wage for all workers! No worker must end less than R12 500!
7) Cut the wages, bonusses and other benefits of the bosses, reimpose corporate tax rates of 50%, and halt Illicit Financial flows!
8) A moratorium on all job losses!
9) Save and fill all vacancies in the public sector for the good of all!
10) A massive public works programme!
11) Create more jobs in farming and fishing to protect food sovereignty!
12) Employ and train more health and safety inspectors!
13) End outsourcing and speed up insourcing of Extended Public Works Programme staff, community healthcare, early childhood, and community-based construction workers’ jobs!
14) Provide support to informal economy workers and the unemployed!
15) Repeal pro-capitalist amendments to strike balloting and picketing rules!
16) Democratise the National Economic Development and Labour Council and allow SAFTU, other working-class formations and progressive civil society to fully participate!
17) Stop all shenanigans preventing democratic, independent unions’ participation in the public sector and parastatal bargaining councils!
3. Improve our living conditions! Bring back our land!
1) Reclaim all land taken from communities by agribusiness and mining houses!
2) Reverse historic land dispossessions and looting by settler-colonialists, through expropriation without compensation, giving communities – especially women and the youth – the best land to use themselves and their future generations!
3) Stop evictions from farms, land occupations and houses!
4) Release urban land – especially in well-located, underutilised areas such as the increasingly-empty office space – and provide resources for building homes (with electricity and modern water and sanitation), good schools and creches, clinics, community centres, public transport and recreational facilities!
5) Embark upon a massive building programme of state-supplied rental and cooperative housing, and for housing in the private sector, regulate all rents, guarantee security of tenure, prosecute landlords who mistreat tenants, halt bank repossession of houses, and outlaw ‘redlining’ of areas that are denied bonds!
4. Save our planet and cut greenhouse gases with a genuine Just Transition!
1) Urgently develop a ‘Green New Deal’ that rapidly cuts CO2 and methane emissions, ensures conservation of our natural heritage for current and future generations, makes us more resilient to environmental threats (including zoonotic diseases like Covid-19), and compensates victims of worsening droughts, floods, extreme storms, fires, and species extinction that reflect the climate change calamity!
2) Develop a genuine Just Transition with mass job creation and a healthier environment, protecting the interests of workers in the energy, mining, smelting, automotive and related industries, in CO2/methane-intensive agriculture, in tourism, and in working-class communities that had become dependent upon the high-carbon economy!
3) Move to renewable energy which should not be privatised but placed under the ownership, control and management of the working class and communities, while preserving and creating jobs and empowering workers and communities!
4) No privatisation or breakup of Eskom, and end electricity black outs and load shedding, ‘load reductions’ and disconnections!
5. Raise the social wage and provide public healthcare finance!
1) Intensify redistributive policies! South Africa’s share of GDP devoted to public social spending is 8% (less than half that of Brazil, and a quarter that of Finland and France)
2) Urgently introduce a Basic Income Grant of R1500, raise the level of other social grants to eliminate poverty, and empower local communities and the downtrodden of society!
3) End the unequal two-tier healthcare system along class, racial and geographic lines!
4) Insource healthcare jobs, ensure workers have protective equipment, and pay at a rate deserving of workers’ skills and dedication!
5) Nationalise healthcare and implement National Health Insurance!
6) Test, track and trace to halt Covid-19, and ensure all public spaces and public transport are safe, with enough subsidy to kombi riders for social distancing!
6. Free, decolonised and high-quality public education!
1) End the unequal two-tier education system along class, racial and geographic lines!
2) Build a comprehensive, high quality, one-tier education service with a syllabus that empowers our young people to be politically-aware, active citizens! Retrain our educators!
3) Train more apprentices and interns and provide secure employment, and end discrimination against young women and those with disabilities!
4) Build and maintain state-funded social and sporting amenities!
5) Provide young offenders alternatives to adult prisons and provide them with a ‘catch-up’ educational and citizenship programme !
7. Stop corruption and crime!
1) Stop the widespread fraud linked to procurement and consultancy contracts and tenders (with their 35% overcharging) and employ public service workers directly rather than through outsourcing!
2) Arrest and prosecute all those responsible for fraud and corruption, end South Africa’s world -leading white-collar corporate criminality including the estimated R400 billion in annual Illicit Financial Flows, and implement Judge Dennis Davis’ recommendations to halt tax dodging!
3) Make our streets safe from gangsters, drug dealers, and violent criminals, by rapidly raising arrest and conviction rates!
4) Conduct a full audit of the police and root out the racist, sexist and gang-linked elements!
8. A non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, socialist society!
1) Act against racism and patriarchy, whether in the household, offices or sites of social power still dominated by white males and men with old-fashioned values, and halt gender-based domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment and hate crimes!
2) End discrimination based especially on homophobia, transphobia and gender power imbalances!
3) Support the decommodification of people’s arts, culture, media, sports and recreation, and embark upon a new Ubuntu era of mutual aid, respect and dignity, valuing our progressive indigenous heritages!
4) Reverse all the undemocratic, unaccountable and totalitarian tendencies that have seeped into the South African state, intelligence agencies, security apparatus and political culture!
It is time for the working class to fight back!
Don’t moan! Mobilise!
Protest Actions in the following Provinces as a build up towards Mass Rolling Action