The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) urges all its members including working-class communities and broader civil society to take part in the COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) led socio-economic national strike on 07 October 2020. This national mass action is primarily aimed at achieving compliance with occupational, health and safety (OHS) standards as well as realising an integrated, affordable, efficient and safe publicly-owned transport system.
Global economies including South Africa are in perpetual insoluble structural crisis. The 2008/9 financial crisis and Covid-19 pandemic among others clearly demonstrate the failures of capitalism. The current health and economic crisis have aggravated workers vulnerabilities, intensified structural inequalities and deepened class and national antagonisms within a capitalist political economy. The Zondo Commission of Inquiry continues to prove that corruption is a product of the capitalist mode of production. Furthermore, the mismanagement, looting and misappropriation of Covid-19 funds between the government and the private sector demonstrate that “we were never in this pandemic together”.
Neoliberalism as a dominant political and economic system has enabled multinational corporations to illicitly move monies intended for socio-economic development out of South Africa. The country’s market fundamentalist policies have not only embedded but legalised financial sector corruption. The planned COSATU national strike will not just challenge corruption but it will equally confront the marketization and/or commodification of labour, ecology, universal social rights and human civilisation.
The participation of SAFTU (South African Federation of Trade Unions), NACTU (National Council of Trade Unions) and FEDUSA (Federation of Unions of South Africa) on 7 October 2020 is aimed at addressing the flux in the labour movement, on one hand, but to intensify working class solidary, on the other. SATAWU is optimistic that the unification process will assist with new forms of working-class organisation and mobilisation. We are equally hopeful that the seed of a trade union confederation will be planted during the national strike.
The national strike will also focus on the following areas: retrenchments, undermining of collective bargaining, gender-based violence and the need for an integrated public transport system. Central to the underdevelopment and socio-economic misfortunes affecting the African working class is the question of race. Firstly, gender-based violence has its origins in the history of imperialism and colonialism. Secondly, rampant retrenchments and undermining of collective bargaining agreements should be linked to the history cheap/migrant labour system in South Africa. Finally, the architecture of the public transport system was not designed to provide safety, reliability and affordability for the African workers. The combination of these factors proves that the transformation of the economy is necessary for restoring the dignity of the oppressed and socially marginalised.
Over and above the highlighted factors, SATAWU maintains that the eradication of the scourge of corruption, poverty, unemployment, inequalities and gender-based violence demands a complete overhaul of white monopoly capital. Ultimately, this is possible through revolutionary class struggle that will finally install a real people’s government led by the working class. The COSATU national strike is a reminder that trade unions are schools of class struggle. The fundamental objective is to achieve an egalitarian society based on social ownership of the means of production. The immediate task, therefore, is to nationalise the commanding heights of the economy under workers and peoples control. Eventually, the working class will emerge victoriously. We call upon the youth of our country to be at the forefront of this mass action. Red Fridays are opportune platforms for young workers to take their rightful place in the ensuing struggle.