deutsch |  english |  español  |  français  |  italiano  |  nederlands  |  polski  |  português  |  svenska  |  türkçe  |  中文  |  عربي  |  русский

latest news

Britain/Ireland
Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty

23/02/2017: Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

  Ireland Republic

Ireland
A web of intrigue sparks government crisis

22/02/2017: Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

  Ireland Republic

February revolution 1917
What lessons for today?

21/02/2017: 23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

  Russian Revolution

 Yemen
International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers

20/02/2017: Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

  Solidarity, Yemen

Netherlands
Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections

18/02/2017: Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

  Netherlands

Britain
Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

16/02/2017: Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

  Aceh

Spain
Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress

15/02/2017: Time to build the class struggle on the streets

  Spain

US
A socialist strategy to defeat Trump

14/02/2017: Escalate the resistance toward shutdowns on March 8 and May 1!

  US

Scotland
Greens back SNP government austerity budget

13/02/2017: TUSC council elections candidates put forward 100% anti-austerity programme

  Scotland

India
Upheaval in Tamil Nadu

09/02/2017: Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

  India

Britain
Universal basic income demand gains ground

08/02/2017: What approach should socialists take?

  Britain

Yemen
Workers protest at parliament against TOTAL and G4S

07/02/2017: Security workers demand wages and arrest of colleagues’ killers

  Yemen

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification

06/02/2017: Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

  Spain

France
After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out

06/02/2017: Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

  France

Romania
Biggest street protests since 1989

04/02/2017: What position should the left take?

  Romania

Syria
Is an end to the war in sight?

03/02/2017: New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

  Syria

Quebec
Terrorist Attack in Québec City

01/02/2017: Counter terrorism and hate with solidarity

  Quebec

 CWI
9th Latin American school a success

31/01/2017: Over 200 participate in Sao Paolo CWI continental gathering

  CWI

Sri Lanka
The year 2017

31/01/2017: Between oppression and struggle

  Sri Lanka

Canada
Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?

31/01/2017: Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

  Canada

US
Airport protests help block Trump travel ban

30/01/2017: Defend immigrant communities

  US

Russian Revolution Centenary
January 1917 - On the eve of revolution

29/01/2017: War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

  Russian Revolution

China
CWI member Hu Xufang forced to flee

28/01/2017: Xu and his family are victims of China’s deepening police crackdown

  China

Afghanistan
The limits of US power

28/01/2017: Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

  Afghanistan

US
Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!

27/01/2017: Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

  US

Russia
Duma legislates to decriminalise domestic violence

26/01/2017: For unified struggle for women’s rights and against capitalism

  Russia

Tamil Nadu
Mass protests against state repression

26/01/2017: Support the right to assemble and protest - release those arrested immediately!

  India

Millions on women's marches around the world

25/01/2017: Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

  US

Bangladesh
Hartal protest against power plant

25/01/2017: Follows mass strike of garment workers in December

  Bangladesh

Côte d’Ivoire
Social revolts shake Ouattara regime

24/01/2017: Public sector strike and soldiers’ mutiny expose reality behind “economic growth”

  Ivory Coast

Taiwan
US foreign policy under Trump

24/01/2017: Island risks being pawn in his game

  Taiwan

US
CWI joins protests around the world against Trump

23/01/2017: Photo gallery selection of CWI actions during weekend of mass protests

  US

US
Kshama Sawant responds to Trump inauguration speech

23/01/2017: Socialist council member speaks

  US

South Africa

Workers demand their share of economic boom in biggest strike wave since 1996

www.socialistworld.net, 11/08/2005
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Strike action shows workers are not prepared to see wealth polarization continue

Weizmann Hamilton, Johannesburg, Democratic Socialist Movement

In the biggest strike wave since 1996, workers are on the offensive demanding a share of the economic boom currently under way in SA. The South African Municipal Workers Union’s (Samwu) 100 000 members have built on their successful one- and three-day strikes earlier this month with an indefinite strike in support of a demand for a 9% wage increase.

This local government strike has been marked by violent clashes with police. Workers have used their now standard tactic of “cleaning the bins” -- littering the streets with the rubbish they are normally responsible for clearing. Angered by police intervention in the previous strikes, workers went on the rampage in Benoni and Germiston on the East Rand outside Johannesburg on Monday, overturning rubbish bins, ripping up traffic lights and attempting to storm the municipal building.

In the previous three-day strike the anger of the workers unfortunately led to the beating to death of a truck driver suspected of strike-breaking. 10 strikers were injured as police fired rubber bullets yesterday, two of them seriously.

Samwu’s indefinite strike coincides with the first national strike by mine workers since 1987, in support of a demand for a 12% wage increase, which has crippled the gold mining industry. 100 000 members of the National Union of Mineworkers in the gold mining sector downed tools at midnight on Sunday. The NUM is set to be joined by the 16 000-strong mainly white artisans unions, Solidarity, and the United Association of South Africa whose members have all voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in ballots.

The strikes in the gold mining industry and local government are taking place against the background of the biggest wave of industrial action in SA since 1996. These follow hot on the heels of relatively successful strikes at South African Airways and the supermarket giant Pick ‘n Pay, numerous smaller disputes, and may be followed by workers in the coal and platinum mines, South African Revenue Services, South African laboratory services and SAA pilots.

A feature of the strike wave is that workers have been driven into action not only by conditions in their specific industries, but by the sharp social polarisation in society as a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich has opened a chasm between the classes. Workers are determined to gate-crash the party of the capitalists and the new black elite and take their share.

In the mining industry for example, conditions appeared not to favour strike action. According to the Labour Research Service, above inflation increases have enabled wages in the gold mining industry to increase by 24% in real terms between 2000 and 2004. However, with the gold price determined in US dollars, the bosses argue that the strength of the currency has undermined profits, led to the lowest production levels since 1931 and forced them to sack over 7 000 workers in unprofitable mines in the last year alone with numbers employed down by a third over the past 5 years. Basing itself on the decline in the official inflation rate to 3,5%, and the difficulties in the industry, the Chamber of Mines, initially offered 2,5%.

The NUM dismissed this offer as a “spit in the face”. In response to the subsequently increased offer of 4,5%, Manktashe pointed out: “We are not negotiating inflation (but)… wage increases. We are looking at workers being able to survive.” (City Press 7/8/05)

Pick ‘n Pay’s Chief Executive Sean Summers expressed frustration over the South African Commercial and Allied Workers Union’s (Saccawu) lack of gratitude in rejecting their 7,9% or R310.00 (£25.00) a month. Summers argued that the offer was well above the inflation rate (of 3.5%), and higher than the average settlement in the industry. Summers further claimed that Pick ‘n Pay had never retrenched workers and was planning to open more stores.

But workers’ anger has been fueled as much by the wage offer as the bosses’ attitude which ranges from being patronising to open contempt. Despite the woes of the gold mining industry, the differential between worker’s average income and that of senior executive has now reached 1:242.

Responding to the Pick ‘n Pay offer, Saccawu general secretary, Bones Skulu pointed: “Pick ‘n Pay’s trading profit increased by 15,9% between 2003 and 2004 and (again) by 24,1% in 2004 and 2005. The CEO’s increase (of 19% on his annual remuneration of R12m (over £1m)) alone could pay 667 workers a month’s salary or one worker’s for almost 56 years based on an average of R3 415.73 (£292) per month. Worse still the CEO’s increase alone could pay an increase of [for] 5 700 workers based on the demand for R400.00 (£34) of 12% (Mail & Guardian 29/7-4/8/05).

Failure to deliver

Local government has become notorious for corruption, a dismal failure to deliver services and above all the inflated salaries paid to municipal managers. Since June last year protests over non-delivery of service have spread across the country on a monthly basis to 6 out of the 9 provinces, the latest of these in the oldest squatter camp in Cape Town, QQ, whose residents are reduced to the indignity of asking residents in nearby squatter camps and townships for the use of toilet facilities because they do not even have the primitive bucket system still used by over 200 000 people in the country.

The Durban municipal manager, for example, gets an annual package of R1m before bonuses -- twenty times that of the council’s lowest paid worker (Star 15/7/05). As Star labour columnist Terry Bell further points out: “This is the background against which the anger and the frustration of the workers should be judged. They are not demanding the overthrow of the system; all they want is 9% pay rise. This would put an extra R207.00 (£17) into the pockets of the lowest paid. That is roughly equal to what top managers are paid every 35 minutes.”

Anger explodes

The arrogance of the SAA management is reflected in the fact that throughout the six month of negotiations, they pleaded poverty and made a 6% offer on the basis of the previous year’s losses. When SAA CEO proudly announced that they had made R1billion (£85m) profit on July 6, workers’ anger exploded. Totally underestimating the determination of the workers, SAA CEO Khaya Ngqula, went on a weekend trip to a luxury resort with his family as the strike commenced.

Ngqula has come under severe criticism from the press for his handling of the strike and his notorious extravagance. Not for him the inconvenience of a seat on the airline he heads. His habits include chartered flights from his second home in the south of France to London where he puts up at the exclusive Dorchester Hotel. He uses a helicopter to travel from meetings between Johannesburg and Pretoria – a distance of no more than 60km!

Management was stunned when 75% of all flights were grounded as the strike held with public support, forcing them back to the negotiating table with an improved offer.

Workers are responding not just to the immediate problems in the workplace, but also to wider processes taking places in society – in particular the sharp class polarisation. What can only be described as an orgy of self-enrichment, previously the exclusive preserve of the white capitalist class, now involves the new black elite. The latter in particular flaunt their newly acquired wealth with arrogance and a sense of entitlement particularly when they denounce when working class communities demand decent wages and basic services.

According to the 2005 report by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Human Sciences Research Council and the UN Development Programme: “SA, despite being one of the 50 wealthiest nations in the world, is one of only a handful countries whose human development index (HDI) ranking has declined since 1995,…from 93 in 1992 to 115 in 2003….In 1997, ‘workerless households’ were home to about 5,8m. By 2002 this had grown to roughly 7,4m. There has also been a marked increase in the number of working poor (those who have jobs but earn less than US$2/day, from just over 900 000 in 1995 to 2m in 2003.” (Financial Mail 8/07/05).

According to Professor John Simpson of the Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing at the University of Cape Town, “… between 1998 and 2004 spending by upper income blacks (more than R154 000 –[£13 367]) a year, rocketed by 368% whereas spending by whites at the same income level grew a mere 16%....The past few years have brought into sharp focus the reality of two contrasting societies – one middle class with many getting richer and the other poor with many now poorer than ever … Last year the richest 20% of SA households were responsible for 65% of all household spend…the poorest 20% spent a mere 2%.”

The Labour Research Service’s 2005 Bargaining Indicator’s report reveals that “it will now take a worker earning the average minimum wage about 150 years to earn what the average director earns in one year compared with last year when it was 111 years” (Star Business Report 10/06/05).

The Sunday Times (17/07/05) in an article headlined “SA’s Wealth Explosion” report that according to the 2005 World Wealth Report “a total of 8 000 South Africans have become dollar millionaires in just 12 months… a rate matched only by Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. They are among the record 12 000 dollar millionaires created in the country over the past three years by the property boom, a strong rand and black economic empowerment.”

As mineworker, Anthony Mpeka, originally from Lesotho and who rises at 4.30am everyday, explained, he has worked in the mines for 20 years and is tired of earning peanuts at less than R3 000.00 (£265.00) a month (City Press 7/08/05).

New general strike

This strike wave is occurring as Cosatu is preparing for the second general strike on 29th August, following the success of the one on 27th June that kick-started its rolling campaign of mass action for jobs that is set to continue until February next year. Although precipitated by the wage negotiation season, there can be little doubt that the working class’ confidence was boosted by the success of the June 27 general strike. Organised workers’ attitudes have been hardened by the government’s determination to press ahead with labour market reforms despite the rejection of the proposals by the ANC’s June National General Council – the highest decision-making body in between conferences.

The bosses’ appetite for profits and wealth has grown with the eating of the last few years in particular and they are not yet satisfied. Relying on the World Bank “Doing business in 2005” survey, which awards South Africa a “difficulty of firing” index of 60 (compared to 50,6 for sub-Saharan Africa and 26,8 for the OECD), they continue to complain about the difficulty and cost of firing workers -- R14billion a year according to Andrew Levy and Associates-- (Financial Mail 1/7/05).

Their relentless pressure on the ANC leadership has now paid off with the circulation of a discussion document on labour market reforms, with the Financial Mail describing the ANC’s position in the words “the unthinkable has been said”. The proposals include removing the protection provided by the Labour Relations Act (LRA) against unfair dismissal not to apply to young workers starting work for the first time as well as for workers in all companies employing less than 200. This would mean that 90% of workers could be fired at will. It would amount to the smashing of the LRA.

These proposals amount to a declaration of war against the working class and will set the scene for explosive confrontations in the next period, introducing renewed tensions into the Tripartite Alliance of the ruling ANC, the South African Communist Party and Cosatu. The Cosatu and SACP leadership have vigorously denied the main item on the Sunday Independent 7th August, 2005 front page – that the United Democratic Front, the masses’ main political vehicle prior to the ANC’s unbanning, is to be re-launched later this month in the Western Cape as part of Cosatu’s rolling campaign of mass action. While it is unlikely that the leadership would initiate such a process, the very fact that it is under discussion is an indication of the growing class alienation being felt towards the ANC inside Cosatu.

As the Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI in South Africa) has argued, the advanced layers in the Cosatu rank-and file have drawn far-reaching conclusions about the class character of the ANC. They are being held prisoner in the Tripartite Alliance by a leadership that has drifted so far from the ideas of socialism that Cosatu was founded on, that they have not even dared to raise the demand for the nationalisation of the mines and the textile industry when the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Charter being celebrated this year provides them with the perfect opportunity to do so. The DSM will continue to campaign for the rank-and-file to take Cosatu out of the Tripartite Alliance and to establish a mass workers party on a socialist programme.



Europe

 video

Video: US Socialist Students build for student walkouts against Trump, 15/12/2016

 further videos

CWI - get involved


solidarity

tamil solidarity campaign kazakhstan

featured links

Socialist Party Ireland

cwi links

Marxist.net, CWI marxist archive

cwi comment & analysis

world economic crisis

analysis and commentary


cwi publications

marxism in today's world che

Che Guevara: Símbolo de Lucha

Por Tony Saunois

A socialist world is possible, the history of the cwi with new introduction by Peter Planning green growth, a contribution to the debate on enviromental sustainability

NEWS

Britain/Ireland: Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty
23/02/2017, Neil Cafferky, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

Ireland: A web of intrigue sparks government crisis
22/02/2017, By Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

Yemen: International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers
20/02/2017, Socialistworld.net:
Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

Netherlands: Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections
18/02/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

Solidarity: French presidential candidate Mélenchon backs #JobstownNotGuilty campaign
17/02/2017, socialistworld.net :
Support the international solidarity campaign

Britain: Council cuts can be fought - and they must be
16/02/2017, Editorial comments from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) :
Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

Spain: Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress
15/02/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spain:
Time to build the class struggle on the streets

US: A socialist strategy to defeat Trump
14/02/2017, Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Council Woman and member of Socialist Alternative :
Escalate the resistance toward shutdowns on March 8 and May 1!

Greece: Athens’ bus cleaners win bulk of wages owed
14/02/2017, Eleni Mitsou (Xekinima - CWI Greece) and Apostolis Cassimere’s (Board Member of OASA - Athens Bus Workers’ Union):
The struggle continues!

Scotland: Greens back SNP government austerity budget
13/02/2017, Matt Dobson, Socialist Paty Scotland (CWI), Glasgow:
TUSC council elections candidates put forward 100% anti-austerity programme

Yemen: Workers protest at parliament against TOTAL and G4S
07/02/2017, Socialistworld.net:
Security workers demand wages and arrest of colleagues’ killers

Romania: Biggest street protests since 1989
04/02/2017, Mâna de Lucru (CWI supporters in Romania):
What position should the left take?

Quebec: Terrorist Attack in Québec City
01/02/2017, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Canada) :
Counter terrorism and hate with solidarity

CWI: 9th Latin American school a success
31/01/2017, socialistworld.net:
Over 200 participate in Sao Paolo CWI continental gathering

US: Airport protests help block Trump travel ban
30/01/2017, Socialist Alternative reporters, US :
Defend immigrant communities

China: CWI member Hu Xufang forced to flee
28/01/2017, chinaworker.info reporters :
Xu and his family are victims of China’s deepening police crackdown

Russia: Duma legislates to decriminalise domestic violence
26/01/2017, From Socialist Alternative (Russian CWI) website (socialist.news) :
For unified struggle for women’s rights and against capitalism

Tamil Nadu: Mass protests against state repression
26/01/2017, Isai Priya, from Tamil Solidarity website :
Support the right to assemble and protest - release those arrested immediately!

Bangladesh: Hartal protest against power plant
25/01/2017, Pete Mason, Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales) :
Follows mass strike of garment workers in December

Côte d’Ivoire: Social revolts shake Ouattara regime
24/01/2017, Militant Côte d’Ivoire (CWI group in Côte d’Ivoire) :
Public sector strike and soldiers’ mutiny expose reality behind “economic growth”

Taiwan: US foreign policy under Trump
24/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Island risks being pawn in his game

US: CWI joins protests around the world against Trump
23/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
Photo gallery selection of CWI actions during weekend of mass protests

US: Kshama Sawant responds to Trump inauguration speech
23/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
Socialist council member speaks

Russian Revolution Centenary: New site celebrates and defends October socialist revolution
20/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
1917revolution.org brings rich lessons of 100 years ago to wide audience

Kazakhstan: Regime increases repression
20/01/2017, Andrei Prigor from Campaign Kazakhstan:
Citizens forced to register with police at all times

US: Global resistance against Trump’s inauguration
20/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
CWI organizes protests as millions prepare to fight Trump’s agenda

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

February revolution 1917: What lessons for today?
21/02/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), printed in the Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party):
23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

India: Upheaval in Tamil Nadu
09/02/2017, Sajith Attepuram, New Socialist Alternative (NSA) (CWI India) :
Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

Britain: Universal basic income demand gains ground
08/02/2017, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales) :
What approach should socialists take?

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification
06/02/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

France: After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out
06/02/2017, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France) :
Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

Syria: Is an end to the war in sight?
03/02/2017, Serge Jordan (CWI) :
New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

Sri Lanka: The year 2017
31/01/2017, Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka) :
Between oppression and struggle

Canada: Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?
31/01/2017, Tim Heffernan, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada), Toronto

:
Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

Russian Revolution Centenary: January 1917 - On the eve of revolution
29/01/2017, Niall Mulholland, from 1917revolution.org :
War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

Afghanistan: The limits of US power
28/01/2017, Judy Beishon, from Socialism Today (February 2017 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)<br />
<br />
:
Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

US: Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!
27/01/2017, Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative, US :
Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

Millions on women's marches around the world
25/01/2017, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) and reports from US marches :
Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

China: New US President’s approach to China
21/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

Ireland North: Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly
17/01/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Spain: What kind of Podemos do workers and youth need?
17/01/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spanish state, editorial :
Debate within leadership touches on fundamental issues for future of party

US: Trump prepares vicious attacks
05/01/2017, Philip Locker and Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative (US):
Mass resistance needed!

Russian Revolution centenary
02/01/2017, Editorial from Socialism Today, Dec/Jan 2017 edition:
Defending the legacy in a new era

2017:Upheaval and fightback will continue
01/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary :
Everything to play for in 2017

Britain's shifting political contours
22/12/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) from Socialism Today Dec/Jan 2017 edition :
Capitalist establishment in disarray

CWI International Executive Committee: European capitalism “battered by events”
16/12/2016, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Report of discussion on Europe at CWI IEC meeting in November

CWI International Executive Committee: World shaken by seismic political events
14/12/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Report of first session of the CWI International Executive Committee, discussing World Relations

World capitalism in deep crisis
08/12/2016, CWI :
Perspectives documents agreed by November CWI international meeting

Sudan: Three day nationwide strike shuts down the country, in unique defiance of Al-Bashir’s rule
30/11/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Escalation of the struggle needed to overthrow repressive regime

US: Trump prepares attacks on working people,immigrants and women
27/11/2016, Tom Crean and Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative (USA):
We must prepare massive resistance!

Cuba: Fidel Castro, leader of 1959 revolution, dies at 90
26/11/2016, Tony Saunois, CWI :
Castro's life and the Cuban Revolution