SAFTU 2nd National Congress Declaration
We, the 709 voting delegates to this 2nd National Congress of the South African Federation of Trade Unions, hereby declare that we are alive and kicking! This Federation shall stand shoulder to shoulder with the working class in their battles and promote a socialist alternative to the capitalist crisis.
We must be wise enough to acknowledge that we have made mistakes that have paralysed and caused unnecessary divisions. This has not been in the interests of the trade union movement or of the working class as a whole. Despite the negative media coverage shown at the opening of our National Congress, the reality is that we were realigning our perspectives in the face of a brutal capitalist onslaught. All sides in the Federation have acknowledged that it is time to move on and look outwards.
We have defied the prophets of doom. We have demonstrated that in our movement we have the most experienced cadres that will not forsake the interests of workers. Four out of six of our newly elected National Office Bearers are women. Halala! We have moved away from an encroaching paralysis towards reaffirming the corner stones for reviving SAFTU and the trade union movement as a whole.
It is a sign of our growing maturity that contestations which have taken place in the Federation, reflected here in this National Congress, were political and ideological but certainly not intended to be personal. Worker’s democracy and worker control are the ultimate victors in this National Congress, not this or that faction or this or that slate. With this leadership, we must re-energise and mobilise our existing members. We must also turn outwards towards the millions of workers that are yet to become organised and bring them into our unions and to strengthen their struggles.
The parliament of workers has spoken!
- We declare that we have reaffirmed the distinctive principles espoused at our inaugural National Congress in 2017.
- We declare that we are moving beyond divisiveness in favour of principled unity and recommit to building a fighting trade union movement guided by Marxism.
- We declare that SAFTU remains a vital voice of organised, unorganised, and marginalised workers.
- We declare that we will move towards financial sustainability and strengthen the dues base of the Federation, whilst addressing the issue of mergers and consolidating our membership.
- We declare that we must build our affiliate’s capacities through worker education, worker-focused research, and legal training.
- We declare our commitment to a systematic programme to launch all provincial and local structures as war councils to represent working class interests.
- We declare our commitment to recruit, mobilise, and galvanise the working class, targeting the 76% of non-unionised workers, some of whom we have not yet reached and some of whom have lost faith in organized labour.
- We declare that we must seek to work together, in solidarity, with other trade union federations, unions, and worker-orientated organisations to protect workers against consistent and unrelenting attacks from capitalists and their system. We need unity in action—on the ground—not just simply declared.
- We declare that we must unite the forces of the Left and convene the socialist conference.
- We recognise that increasing levels of outsourcing, sub-contracting, and other forms of precarious employment—such as EPWP and community health workers—and the failure of the labour movement to adequately respond to this trend further contributes to the ongoing fragmentation of worker unity. We must also reach out to informal sector workers and migrant workers. SAFTU boldly commits to lead the movement in reversing this trend, engaging with these workers, and building worker trust, to grow a united trade union movement—this is our historical task and an urgent priority.
- We declare our commitment to the campaign for a living wage for all workers. The poverty minimum wage is an insult and is insufficient to meet even the most basic needs of working-class households.
- We declare our commitment to a programme of action against business-backed government austerity, especially in the public sector that needs more money, not less, to provide effective, caring services to the public. We will oppose any further legislative restrictions that undermine working class power.
This Federation will take forward the struggles of the working class, without fear and without hesitation. Every day workers are facing an onslaught from the global capitalist system. Neoliberalism seeks to wipe out all the gains that workers have made. Day after day, workers are being attacked—in their workplaces, in their homes—all over this country and the world.
We declare that we will stand united against all these onslaughts:
- We stand against gender-based violence and violence towards children.
- We stand against the triple crisis of unemployment, inequality, and poverty.
- We stand against climate change and the devastating effects felt the most by ordinary workers, as we have seen with the devastating floods in Kwazulu-Natal.
- We stand against xenophobia and rising tide of right-wing extremism.
- We are opposed to the bosses strategy of using the undocumented labour to deepen the exploitation of workers and side line historic worker rights and gains. We stand against employment of undocumented workers.
- We stand against police killings and all violence against public servants.
- We stand against the super-exploitation of Africa and the Global South and pledge to deepen our international solidarity—in Eswatini, Capo Delgado in Mozambique, Western Sahara, Palestine. We regard internationalism as a fundamental principle of the workers movement.
- We stand against imperialist war. All imperialist wars are about expanding capitalist markets and the exploitation of workers. We believe the mutual class interests of Russian and Ukrainian workers should not be sacrificed to imperialism.
- We resolutely stand against all forms of class oppression, racism, sexism, and all forms of divisiveness.
Despite the crisis we are in, our class continues to fight. AMCU and NUM have shown this in the gold sector strike. FAWU and GIWUSA and CSAAWU have shown their solidarity during the Clover strike. NUM and NUMSA have stood together against Eskom. We call on the public sector unions to follow these examples and draw their struggles together. We call on all trade union leadership to recruit more, mobilise more, educate more, and build the cadres of the working class.
We say to all of them: Do not yield! Be militant! Forward with your struggles! Forward with unity! Forward with the working class! Qina, Msebenzi, Qina!
We know who the enemy is. The enemy is the capitalist class and their cronies. They steal from workers, every single day. In this world, everything produced comes from the hands of workers. It belongs to them! We strive to represent and provide democratic leadership for workers. We stand together in solidarity. Forward ever, backward never!
Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!