Revolutionary Greetings Comrades,
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) has learned with shock and utmost disappointment that the genuine class struggle waged by workers at Transnet SOC Ltd was betrayed on 17 October 2022. The United National Transport Union (UNTU) entered into a multi-year wage settlement agreement with the employer.
The decision in question not only disadvantages but correspondingly undermines the interests of the working-class, low-earning employees, in particular. This demonstrates that the working class is not homogeneous but is divided from a stratification, theoretical, conscious, social and economic point of view. Conditions of this nature suggest that petty bourgeois members located in the mentioned union mandated their representatives to sign an anti-worker wage agreement. The agreement is centered on the class interests of the employer, profit maximisation, exploitation, precarious work conditions and employee insecurities for the following reasons:
We have demonstrated to our members, the country, the international community and detractors (domestic and international) that SATAWU is a fighting, striking and campaigning trade union. The organisation’s members, staff, shop stewards and office bearers have displayed their supreme knowledge, skills and abilities to effectively and efficiently organise and mobilise workers behind a meaningful and revolutionary cause.
Had the union not followed the correct Transnet Bargaining Council (TBC) and legislative processes and procedures, picketing rules will not only be non-existent but our industrial action will equally be illegal. Our members decided to engage in collective action and enhance their class consciousness rather than stay at home and be social media activists. These conditions reveal that the working-class stratum is infiltrated by opportunists that will sell the state-owned enterprise (SOE) to the highest bidder if we are not vigilant, theoretically conscious and organisationally disciplined.
The current material condition confirms that working class “theory without practice is empty; practice without theory is blind” hence the sterile and/or deficient wage settlement agreement. The work of George Orwell’s Animal Farm eloquently described the disparities that confront workers, in general, and Transnet employees, in particular, by stating “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. When put differently, the forgoing statement can be phrased as follows: the striking workers looked from opportunists (employees and representatives that betrayed the struggle) to the employer, and from the employer to opportunists, and from opportunists to employer again; “but already it was impossible to say which was which”.
Since we cannot differentiate opportunists from the employer and employer from opportunists, the striking field workers as opposed to the house workers must intensify their struggle and mobilisation efforts to avert negative eventualities from confronting the rank and file. In summary, our industrial action should continue as planned regardless of the betrayal in question. Lastly, the victory of our struggle depends on our efforts in organising the unorganised, mobilising, educating and building strong shop floor structures that are militant, accountable, democratic and worker controlled. The struggle continues therefore we must unequivocally “tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories.”
We hope that the above is in order.
SATAWU General Secretary