It has its origins within the historical struggles of workers and their trade unions internationally for solidarity between working people in their struggles to win fair employment standards and more importantly, to establish a culture of human and worker rights.
The national trade union congress of South Africa (NTUC) regards workers day as a day of condemning exploitation and undermining of workers, in particular the previously disadvantaged. We denounce unfair labour practices, work-based racial discrimination, poor working conditions, stagnant career paths, low wages, high unemployment, underemployment and extended unemployment rates.
Having spoken about denouncing work based racism and bad working conditions, we then ask if is it possible to have non-racist institutions in a racist society? We should further ask ourselves if it’s possible to have pro-workers conditions in an almost entirely capitalistic society?
This is a said day for workers as we reflect back on the mineral revolution of the 19th century where migrant labor provided abundant cheap African labor for white owned-mines and farms (and later factories) and forced racial segregation of land. We must never forget that our brothers were stripped and searched before and after entering mines to generate wealth for Europeans. It is also a remembrance of August 2012 Marikana massacre where 34 mine workers were killed for demanding better working conditions and a salary of R12 500.00. These are some of the unfortunate struggles that we reflect on till today.
In the so-called new South Africa, we witness the unfair treatment of professionals, specifically black academics and professionals who are seemingly invisible as everyday is a struggle against a system that constantly alienates them and aims to exclude and sideline them. These professionals have been reduced to mere spectators in the workplace as they refuse to see or hear them nor even acknowledge their presence. They have become in the eyes of the master, invisible – pastless, presenceless, futureless ad mindless. We must remind ourself of these realities in order for us to seek to radically transform the system and how it operates.
It also reminds us of the need to abolish labour brokering in all implicated sectors of the economy, particularly in retail and contract cleaning sectors which has subjected workers to slavery as they earn below R3 000.00 a month, while the big capitalist takes all the profits. This happens In a country with trade union movement such as COSATU and its affiliates who have betrayed workers and only represent their personal selfish interests. These unions have rendered themselves useless, they are nothing but mere bodyguard of white monopoly capital and theirs is to manage the anger of workers from revolting against this anti-proletariat system. Hence workers need an alternative workers movement to defend their interests.
Workers day celebrations are agonizing to the 25.4%(as per the recent labour market survey) unemployed labour force. The above percentage include 2.5 million unemployed graduates and millions of marginalized masses of our people.
NTUC therefore proposes the following remedies to the current economic upheavals;
We should replace the current capitalist system with its inherent injustices in treating workers with a social order from which the domination and exploitation of one class by another should be eliminated.
NTUC proposes that economic planning should supersede unregulated private enterprise and competition in which a genuine self- governance based on upon economic equality will be possible.
There is an urgent need for protected industrialization supported by government which will ensure the creation of sustainable jobs for our people.
In conclusion we are pleading to all workers to either choose to die on their knees waiting for what must fall from the master’s table or to stand up in solidarity and put capitalism, white supremacy and the ruling elites where they belong.
NTUC is the only alternative!!
Issued by the National Trade Union Congress Organizational Research and Communication team