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RED ALERT
Reconfiguration from below: SACP takes responsibility, builds democratic popular power, contests elections in Metsimaholo
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LETTERS AND COMMENTS


Dear editor

Gay and Lesbian oppression is a class issue

Anyone arguing for gay liberation comes up against the argument that being gay is against human nature. This argument is a popular myth used to justify gay oppression. We need to explain gay oppression in order to know how to fight it.

It is no accident that the South African Constitution won by the working class also bans discrimination against lesbian and gay people. We must still turn these paper rights into reality. Gay and lesbian people still face prejudice and are denied basic rights.

Anyone who hates inequalities, exploitation and oppression should also stand against the oppression of lesbian and gay people. Racism, gender oppression and gay oppression are a result of the capitalist class system. The capitalist system dictates which sexual orientation is immoral. It is the same system that divides us into rich and poor, the same system that exploits us.

Gay oppression is a class issue and the permanent solution to gay oppression and all other oppressions is socialism.

Every working class person should defend the rights of lesbian and gay people. Only our class enemy benefits from gay oppression and from "divide and rule". Gays and lesbians should tie into the working class movement to defeat oppression forever. The working class is the only class that has the power to defeat capitalism and oppression.

Since the early history of socialist organisation, there has been a close connection between socialists and the fight against gay oppression. The Soviet Union was the first country in the world to unban gay sex in 1918. The rise of Stalinism in the 1930s broke this connection.

Only socialism can guarantee a better life for the working class.

Pride! Equality! Justice! Liberation! Queer! Socialism!

Patrick Masiu
SACP Jouberton Branch member, Klerksdorp, North West Province



SWAYOCO Congress

The last Umsebenzi reported on the 5th General Congress of the Swaziland Youth Congress which was held in February. As you may know, this Congress was violently disrupted by Swaziland police in Manzini, Swaziland. The tinkhundla regime continues to inflict legislative and political terror upon the Swazi people.

This is to inform your readers that the SWAYOCO Congress will now be held in exile in your country (in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga province) during the Easter weekend. The programme of the Congress will pick up discussions from the disrupted congress.

The young people of Swaziland are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, democracy and liberation of Swaziland.

Embili nenkululeko yemaSwati!

Sandile Gumedze
Secretary for International Affairs - SWAYOCO



Challenging public service workers to donate for jobs

During March, the reactionary Public Servants' Association (PSA) in the Northern Cape sent a letter to all government employees. This letter says that COSATU affiliated workers are sacrificing the struggle of public sector workers by agreeing to donate a day's wages to the Workers' Job Creation Fund.

Unemployment is high in the province. All public service workers should donate their day's wages to the Job Creation Fund on 01 June 200. I challenge the PSA to demonstrate what plans they have to contribute to job creation. Organised workers and the unemployed poor recently marched in the Northern Cape in defence of jobs. Where was the PSA on that day?

Unions are political organs of the working class. I challenge all public service workers to join the COSATU public sector unions - NEHAWU, POPCRU, SAMWU and SADTU.

One industry, one union! One country, one federation!

Vuyisile Maki,
NEHAWU member, Kuruman



Fighting for workers living with asbestosis

I wish to thank all Umsebenzi readers who spoke and wrote on the plight of asbestos victims in our country who are fighting a legal battle against Cape PLC in British courts. Whatever the outcome of the court case, we congratulate mdia workers who placed this case in the news.

Many of the affected workers and their families still live near the closed asbestos mines in the Northern Cape and the Northern Province. Many are sick and are going to die of asbestosis. There is no cure and victims die s slow and painful death.

We draw courage from the late health worker from Prieska, Stephane Celento Jansen who died recently from asbestosis. Through her selfless care for asbesos victims and heroic travels in search of justice, we are confident we will win the case against Cape PLC.

The Northern Cape provincial government has launched the Stephane Celento Jansen Trust Fund to help victims of asbestosis and their families in the province. We appeal to Umsebenzi readers, all workers and progressive organisations to show working class solidarity by donating money to the trust fund.

Sipho Mbaqa,
ANC Media Department , Northern Cape Province



Our unique alliance

The revolutionary alliance between the ANC, SACP and COSATU has a long history of struggle. This revolutionary force defeated apartheid. But there have been tensions and disagreements in the alliance after 1994. Macro-economic policy and how the alliance functions have been the main issues.

COSATU and the SACP will continue fighting for socialism. The working class must contest our class enemy ideologically. We must focus our energy on engaging each other on how best we can move forward.

For socialism and a strong alliance

Gwede Mantashe,
SACP CC member and NUM General Secretary



Science and society

The editors of Science & Society, the oldest American Marxist journal (established 1936) are reaching out to a growing community of readers who are interested in Marxism today. Our focus is on reinvigorating Marxist

theory and research; assimilating current results from mainstream social science, history and philosophy; and critically reexamining the classical literatures of revolutionary social thought from a contemporary perspective.

We're hoping to find members of your organization who might want to know more about us or receive a free copy. Not just academics but also policy planners, labor community organizers and others welcome a chance to stay on top of the latest products of Marxist scholarship. To help us connect with them, we're inquiring about an exchange of mailing lists, an ad swap or other mention in your publications to members. Our database includes about 1700 scholars and thinkers with an interest in Marxist thought.

Abby Luby,
Science & Society, USA
Email - skent@kentcom.com


Support workers living with asbestosis

Donate money to the Stephane Celento Jansen Trust Fund,
ABSA Bank,
Kimberley branch
Account number -  4051 614 793

--

SUBSCRIBE TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN LABOUR BULLETIN

Keep your finger on the pulse of labour!

For in-depth analysis of developments in the South African labour movement, you need the South African Labour Bulleting. The bulletin is read by industrial relations managers, business leaders, unionists, journalists, academics and politicians.

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Please make cheques and postal orders payable to Umanyano publications

Send this form to Umanyano Publications, P.O. Box 3851, Johannesburg, 2000, Tel - 011 487 1603, Fax - 011 487 1508 , Email - salb@icon.co.za


Visit the SACP website - www.sacp.org.za

If you have access to the Internet, visit the SACP website for current and historical documents.

165 people visit the SACP website a day

According to statistics from Absolute Statistics for March 2000 on average 165 people visit the SACP website. In total, there were 5120 visitors during March. The highest number of visitors was on 27 March 2000 with a total of 260 visitors. And since May 1999, the site has been visited by 44 376 visitors.

Contribute to the SACP website discussion forum

This is the SACP's on-line (website) discussion forum. Please join the debate about the future of socialism. Tell us what you think about our web site, our organisation, or anything else that comes to mind. We welcome all of your comments and suggestions.

Please also leave your comments in this public guest book so we can share your thoughts with other visitors. Once a month, the SACP General Secretary, Blade Nzimande and other members of the Central Committee will respond to issues raised in the website. Top of Form 1

Readers' comments on the SACP website

I appreciate the web page of SACP especially since I know for a fact that a great sacrifice had to be made in order to afford this. I therefore wish to commend the comrades for the great work and effort they have made and suggest that they also include some of comrade Chris Hani's speeches. It will be a pity to have words of a leader of comrades Chris' standing go to waste and not form part of our history so that our children and great grand children can enjoy them. His gentleness and charisma is still missed within our ranks, and reading words spoken out of his own mouth will bring comfort to those of us who still find it hard to accept his departure.

From a caring South African

Hellen Maome
COSATU Parliamentary office


I have been visiting your web site at least once a week, every month for the last year if not longer. Very good stuff. Very good content. I am a Kenyan Marxist-Leninist currently exiled in Canada. I have met some of your members who visited Toronto in 1999 as part of a trade union delegation. Hoping to one day pop in your offices one of these fine days.

Onyango Oloo,
Toronto, Canada.

I have just looked at your website and must compliment you on it! It is an excellent resource. I am involved with two groups here in New York: The Brecht Forum/New York Marxist School (Joe Slovo's first visit to New York was co-sponsored by Monthly Review and us), and the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOP-LAB). TOPLAB has just created a website; we have added a link to the SACP. You might want to look at both the Brecht Forum and Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory sites. They are: http://www.brechtforum.org and http://www.toplab.org

In Solidarity

Bill Koehnlein,
New York, USA


I know the Party does not have sufficient funds but I think this site is one of the best. It avails all the information about the Party. I always visit this site.

Phenyo Nonqane,
ANC Dept. of Information and Publicity


SACP NEWS

SACP Central Committee Statement

The Central Committee of the SACP met in Johannesburg from 31 March to 2 April.

Economic challenges

The CC noted the more positive signs of growth in the economy, with projected average growth of 3,5% for the next three years. Decisive action is required to ensure that this growth turns out to be more than just temporary, modest and cyclical. The key question is: what is to be the principal accelerator of growth and development? The CC agreed that much greater emphasis needed to be placed on the mobilisation and co-ordination of budgetary, parastatal and domestic private capital for a more concerted infrastructural development approach. The CC called for the implementation of the 1998 Presidential Job Summit resolution that envisaged major summits in the key industrial sectors of our economy.

In underlining the need for government to play a much more pro-active industrial policy role, the CC noted with concern the more than R1 billion under-spent by the Department of Trade and Industry last year. The DTI's commitment to major restructuring was also noted and welcomed.

The CC resolved that, in a variety of ways, the SACP would play a much more active role in the budgetary process. We will seek to shape budgetary priorities that are more aligned with our vision of infrastructural development and industrial policy programmes as the key accelerator for growth, job creation and development.

All of this requires an economically active state that is capable of and willing to plan, co-ordinate and discipline the capital resources of our society. In this context, the CC received several reports on the ongoing transformation of the public sector, and of the civil service.

The CC also received a report on work in progress in government around shaping policy on the restructuring of state assets. While the process is ongoing, and the SACP is contributing to it, the CC expressed general satisfaction that there was a broad agreement across the alliance that parastatals, particularly those in key social delivery sectors, needed to remain entirely or, at the very least, substantially within the public sector.

Local government and iGoli 2002

The CC discussed ongoing local government transformation and the implications of this for more concerted local-level democracy and transformation. The CC said there is a need to use democratic institutions to mobilise public, parastatal, co-operative and private sector resources around a coherent developmental approach. It was in this context that the CC approached the vexed question of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). Where unavoidable, these should be implemented with the above strategic understanding, and should be seen as one possible variant of Municipal Service Partnerships. Too often, so-called PPPs have amounted to little more than privatisation exercises in which cash-strapped municipalities have sold off their resources, and have lost any ability to exercise strategic leverage in the process.

The CC discussed and developed SACP plans for our participation in the ANC-led local government election campaign.

A report was also tabled by the CC's State Transformation Commission on Igoli 2002. The report highlighted a concern that, in its initial conception, a package of financial emergency measures (many of which may well have been necessary) were conflated with a supposed vision of transformation and development for the city of Johannesburg. This got the whole process off on a wrong footing. The report also highlighted the role that SACP provincial level structures had since played in seeking to engage constructively with the transformation of the city. Important advances have been made, in particular the commitment to providing each household its first 6 kilo-litres of water free of charge. However, serious problems persist and the CC resolved that, at whatever appropriate levels, the SACP should do everything to ensure constructive outcomes that succeed in mobilising the great majority of Johannesburg's citizens around a developmental vision of their city.


SACP calls for the defence and extension of the public sector

On 17 April, the SACP General Secretary, Blade Nzimande, addressed the National General Council of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU). Below is a summary of his speech.

Restructuring of the public service

For the SACP, the key political challenge for progressive public sector unions is that of defending and strengthening the public sector to play a leading role in the transformation of society. The task of public sector unions is the defence and the extension of the public sector in the provision of quality services to the majority of our people.

We need to restructure the public service away from a service that met the interests of a white minority to a new service. This transformation should not be an ideologically driven transformation that mechanically assumes that the current state is bloated and therefore needs to be cut as a matter of principle. Evidence shows that the major problem with our public service is inefficient management and inappropriate deployment of the civil service. That is why the SACP supports a proper and thorough audit of the service, with the view to redeployment and training, rather than retrenchment. Retrenchment in the public service will hit low-level workers and may leave inefficient management intact.

A new public service ethos

It is upon public sector unions and workers to set an example that the public service is a better deliverer of services than the private sector. We need a new work ethic amongst our members, an ethic of hard work and dedicated service to our people. Lazy teachers and public service workers are a threat to the attainment of a better life for all.

Teach humane values in our schools

If capitalist ideology and values are taught in our schools, let ideas of caring, solidarity, community and sharing be equally spread so that our children can see and choose for themselves a more humane system for our future. The SACP therefore calls on SADTU to set up a Centre for Curriculum Transformation in order to equip SADTU members with a different approach to the syllabi, and the teaching of a new humane and caring content.



Racism, class, gender and poverty in South African media

On 05 April, the SACP made a submission to the SAHRC hearings on racism in the media (immediately after the ANC submission). The panel and audience commended the SACP for its unique and brave submission, which was the first to link racism to poverty, gender and class inequalities.

Despite this, only the Sowetan newspaper actually covered the SACP submission. All other newspapers stumbled on each other to tear the ANC submission apart and completely ignored the SACP submission which they all received.

The SACP called on the SAHRC to link racism to experiences of poverty, gender and class inequalities. These experiences are not part of the central messages conveyed by our media. Media might deracialise but only to the benefit of a black male elite. Therefore defeating racism is linked to defeating a class-based society and the fundamental transformation of gender relations.

SA media is a board of censorship accountable to no one

As the SACP submission said, the only freedom of expression in our media is that of the white male rich to express its views. Did the 'market' determine that the SACP submission was not 'newsworthy'? The 'market' reproduces the same class, race and gender stereotypes we want to defeat. The interests and needs of the 'market' have become convenient explanations for newspaper bosses to deny or defuse issues of black people, women and the black working class in their publications. This is the heart of the issue the SACP raised in its submission.

The media relies exclusively on white male corporate economists for analysing the South African economic situation. Economists expressing the views and interests of the working class are not given coverage. Organised workers have been subject to intensified ideological attacks from the media. These attacks have demonised organised workers' gains as the main cause of unemployment and poverty. Again, the 'market' dictates this. There can be no freedom of speech under the present ownership arrangements.

Increase access of the poor to the media

Ordinary people must control and have access to media. The public broadcaster must remain in public hands and it must promote good and increased coverage of working class issues. It has a unique role to represent issues and interests of the black working class and the poor and women in particular. Radio is an important means of access by the poor to news and the world as a whole. The question of the commercialisaion of the SABC needs to be approached with absolute care in an environment dominated by racial and gender inequalities and class exploitation.

Affirmative action in SA media is critical. But a narrow approach of simply appointing blacks and women into positions without transforming the ownership structures does not mean affirmative action.



Prepare for the Strategy Conference!

Through May all SACP structures are being mobilised to ensure that our Party prepares for the 2000 Strategy Conference. The Conference will be attended by 270 delegates from Districts, PECs, alliance partners and NGOS and will be held from 26 to 28 May 2000 in Johannesburg.

Provincial delegations must have at least 30% women delegates, no more than 30% PEC members and no more than 70% District delegates.

With continuing job losses and the local government elections in November, the Strategy Conference comes at an important moment. The SACP continues to see itself as a vanguard party in the context of a broader national liberation movement. A critical component of the vanguard role we seek to play is to develop and propagate clear, collective strategic perspectives, not just for our Party, but for our movement.

The need for strategic clarity in our present situation is more pressing than ever before.

The discussion documents, which will be released in early May provide an opportunity for SACP cadres to take stock of the progress we have made in the collective struggle for socialist renewal. The main documents and Conference commissions will be on local government transformation and elections, state transformation, economic transformation and party building.

The SACP Central Committee has charged all provincial structures to ensure that regional and provincial workshops convene during May.

While our potential strategic and theoretical contribution to our movement is of critical importance, the discussion and resolutions that emerge from the Conference must also be directed to practical, organisational work. Are our present organisational structures the most adequate for the strategic objectives we are setting ourselves as a Party?

Let our debates before and during the Strategy Conference answer these questions.


LABOUR BEAT

Northern Province

Fighting asbestosis and Cape PLC

By Sonny Leshika, the SACP Northern Province organiser,
Morulaganyi wa lekgotla la Afrika borwa la bokomonisi

If ever there are people and communities that are still haunted by British colonialism, it is the residents of mine settlements in the Northern Province's Mafefe, Dilokong, Mathabatha, Zebediela and Pange areas. These areas are well known for their big asbestos mines. The story of these communities is about what capitalism is.

In South Africa, the mining industry is summed up by two words - fortune and misery. Fortune for the bosses and misery for the workers and their families! The mining bosses make big profits by exploiting the labour of workers. Workers suffer; they work hard under unsafe conditions and for low wages and no benefits.

The misery of these areas began with the discovery of asbestosis by Cape PLC, a British company. In looking for profits, the company ignored the dangerous effects of mesophylioma that causes lung cancer when one inhales asbestosis dust. There are still heaps of asbestosis dust in the mine settlements and surrounding areas.

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Cape PLC closed its mines and relocated to Britain leaving people to die slowly. Every weekend at least one victim of asbestosis is buried in all the five areas. The main victims are the former mineworkers. This means that breadwinners are lost in every five households every week.

These communities have since established committees to deal with this problem. The main aim is to fight for affordable and proper medical treatment and compensation. Until the NUM took up the matter, our media ignored it. Now the workers are suing Cape PLC in Britain. I the case is heard and won in Britain, then the workers will gain more since South African law has gaps Cape PLC wants to use in its favour.

The communities also demand that Cape PLC must pay for environmental cleanup. The Northern Province government has agreed with the State of Saxony in Lower Germany to clean up the dumps. But this must not imply that Cape PLC is not liable and will not pay.

The SACP has worked together with the communities, the NUM and non-governmental organisations to take the fight forward.

Le kgotla la bokomonisi la Afrika borwa le soma mmogo le basomi le setshaba khahlanong le ba Cape PLC.

Ce eba go sa na le batho goba ditshaba tse disa tshwenyago ke ditlamorago tsa kgatelelo ka naga ya Brithani, bona etla ba badudi ba metse ya Mafefe, Dilokong, Mathabatha, Zebediela le Penge. Mafelo a tumile ka meepo ya yona ya Asbestose. Ye ke pontsho ya gore lenaneo la punelagae (capitalism) la Britani ke eng.

Industry ya meepo Afrika borwa e hlaloswa ka mantsu a mabedi elego lehumo le Masetlapelo. Ke lehumo go beng meepo le masetlapelo go basomi le ba malapa a bona. Beng meepo ba dira ditseno tse kgolo tsa maseleng ka go somisa bohlaswa matsogo a basomi ba bona. Basomi ba amega kudu ka ge ba soma tlase ga maemo a sa bolokegago, megolo ya fase ye e se nago dipoelo tse dingwe tse haone.

Kasetlapelo mo mafelong a athomile morago ga go utullwa a asbestose ke ba Cape PLC elego khampani ya Britani. Ka go nyaka ditseno khampani eile ya hlokologa di tlamorago tse mpe tsa marela (mesophyion) a o a hlolago kankere ya maswafo ge motho a hemela lerole la asebestose teng. Ga bjale go sa na le mekgobo ya lerole la asebestose mafelong a meepo le ditikologong tsa yona.

Cape PLC eile ya tswalela meepo ya yona gomme ya ..unyela gola Britani ba tlogela morago basomi ba e hwa lehu la go nanya. Mafelelo a beke ka beke motswa sehlabelo o tee oa bolokwa metseng e hlano ye e badilwego. Bontshi bja bona ke basomi ba pele ba meepong ya khampani ye. Se se ra gore beke ka beke ditshaba tse dilahlegelwa ke dihloogo tse hlano.

Ditshaba tse di amegilego di hlomile dikomiti go somana le bothata bjo. Nepo kgolo ke go lwela kalafo ya nnete ya go fihlela ke mang le mang le go phumulwa meokgo. Lekgotla la badirameepong elego NUM le lona le tswetsa taba ye pele morago ga gore babega ditaba bas e ele hloko bothatha bjo. Ga bjale basomi ba isa Cape PLC lekgotla tshekong Britani. Ge tsheko eka theeletswa le go fenywa Britani gona basomi batla boelwa kudu kage malaotheo wa Afrika borwa o e na le masobana oa Cape PLC eka tshabago ka ona go ba llisa.

Dithaba tse dinyaka gape gore Cape PLC e lefele thwekiso ya tikologo tsa bona. Mmuso wa province o kwane le naga ya Saxony go la Germany go hlwekisa mekgobo ya meepo. Se a se re gore Cape PLC e tla tlogelwa esa lefe tshenyo ya yona.

Lekgotla la bokomonisi la Afrika borwa le soma mmogo le ditshaba tse amegilego le lekgotla la basomi ba meepong, otee le mekgahlo yaka ntle go mmuso go tswetsa ntwa ye pele.



Neo-liberalism comes to Wits University - 600 jobs on the line

By Lucien van der Walt

Neo-liberalism has come to the University of the Witwatersrand through retrenchments, commercialisation, and privatisation.

Hundreds of workers at the University will lose their jobs after management decided on 25 February 2000 to retrench more than 623 employees in building care, catering, cleaning, grounds, maintenance, and transport. Sub-contracting companies will take their jobs by July 2000.

There will also be restructuring and rationalisation of academic staff and departments. The 9 faculties will be reduced to 5, the 99 departments will be merged into 40 "schools," and "redundant" courses will be cancelled. A second wave of retrenchments affecting academic and administrative staff will be implemented from September 2000.

The outsourcing plans threaten workers' livelihoods. Most of the retrenched support services workers will not be re-employed by the contractors, and their prospects of employment elsewhere are limited in the current economic climate. Outsourcing must be fought on principle and recognised as an attack on workers.

The use of contractors undermines hard won workers' rights, bashes unions and is against working class interests. Management claims it will save R30 million over the next five years. Such savings can only be achieved if the contractors pay slavery wages and refuse to give their workers any benefits. The support service jobs that are affected are already low wage, with cash wages ranging from R1200 and R3000 a month. Under the contractors these wages will fall, and workers will lose out on medical aid and other benefits. It is very difficult to unionise a contractor. The retrenchments will slash Nehawu's membership base, giving management the space to withdraw union recognition.

Wits University is badly managed!

The restructuring and retrenchments are part of a broader restructuring at Wits University, entitled Wits 2001. This was developed in cooperation with outside consultants, the University Management Associates, who were paid more than R4,5 million to develop recommendations.

The actual evidence in the consultants' reports shows that Wits is badly managed and that management must be restructured. In other words, Wits should have been internally restructured in a way that could save jobs and improve services. This might have been the best way to meet the financial squeeze posed by falling government subsidies and falling revenue from students.

Wits 2001 is a neo-liberal plan!

The whole orientation of Wits 2001 is neo-liberal. Like iGoli 2002, the neo-liberal Wits 2001 plan stresses the need to run public services on a cost-recovery and profit-generating basis, and to downsize, privatise and outsource so-called "non-core" functions.

Disadvantaged workers bear the brunt of the retrenchments, rising fees increasingly exclude working class students, and academics, particularly those on contract, stand next in line to be fired.

The bosses have declared class war on labour through casualisation, sub-contracting, privatisation, the deregulation of trade, markets and money movements, "globalisation," and mass retrenchments. This is because capitalism is in crisis, and workers are paying the price. In South Africa, government is cutting social spending as part of the GEAR programme, which involves, among other things, less money for bursaries and falling university subsidies. On of the implications of GEAR is that the private sector will play a growing role in tertiary education.

Wits is not the first university in South Africa to be affected by neo-liberalism. Others include the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, and the University of Fort Hare, and in all cases restructuring has been associated with falling wages for workers, declining service standards, and retrenchments of workers and academics.

Fight the Wits job losses!

Workers, students, unions and progressive organisations must fight the Wits 2001 plan, and fight to save every job. It is a struggle for economic justice and a struggle to defend workers' conditions. Nehawu, in particular, has sworn to fight the retrenchments, pointing to the chasm between management's claim to be progressive, and its practice of supporting retrenchments, a cheap labour system, and union bashing.

But we must go further. This fight must be linked to the broader struggle against neo-liberalism, which affects every section of the working class. We can win, and we MUST win. Neo-liberalism is taking us into the jaws of hell itself.

Contact the Wits workers at resist@africamail.com and P.O. Box 581, WITS 2050, South Africa.



Public service workers committed to service delivery

All the COSATU public sector affiliates are committed to improving service delivery and transforming the state.

During March 2000, these affiliates held a conference to discuss examples of service delivery campaigns they have undertaken and their proposals for improving service delivery. These affiliates are NEHAWU, SAMWU, SADTU, SAPSAWU and POPCRU.

The conference developed a strategy and proposals on public service delivery. The unions agreed that:-

  • Service delivery should be determined by need, and should not be cut to save money in the short term at the expense of long run development
  • Quality service depends on the involvement of workers and communities and cannot come from the top only
  • The public service is and must remain an important sector for job creation
  • COSATU is concerned about the cutbacks in the budget for social services
  • In order to increase spending on social services, COSATU public sector unions propose that government must reduce its employer contribution to the Government Employees' Pension Fund.

Already unions are involved in projects and campaigns to improve public service delivery. Here are some examples.

SADTU wants quality public education

SADTU has a strong vision which demands access for all to quality public education. The SADTU Curriculum Development Capacity Development Project is aimed to address weaknesses of insufficient teacher training and learning support materials. Already 72 master trainers have been trained in all the provinces. These trainers are already on the field contributing in their schools and training other schools and the department provincial education departments. SADTU is now training more permanent trainers in all the provinces.

In the Eastern Cape, SADTU has started Operation Fundisa 2000 through the Campaign for Culture of Learning, Teaching and Service (COLTS). The campaign will achieve effective school management, school governing bodies, teaching and learning with relevant materials.

Working together with government, SADTU has also started an HIV/AIDS Education Project to train teachers on HIV/AIDS life skills and on HIV/AIDS education in the classroom.

SAMWU working for water and clean cities

In Odi, North West province, SAMWU worked together with local government, the Rand Water Board and the Department of Water Affairs to bring water to the community. The community agreed to keep consumption at affordable limits, paying for services by households who can afford and end illegal connections. Now, the entire community has water and revenue collection is up from R500 000 to R2 million. Some of the income will be used to extend pipelines to Madidi village and provide sanitation. Rand Water is starting a similar project in Harrismith.

The Cape Town City Council used to lose millions of rands because of water leakages in Gugulethu, Langa and other Cape Town townships. SAMWU started mobilising the community to identify and fix leaking pipes and the council provided equipment. The Council is now saving R10 million a year - money which can be used to give water to more people.

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In Soweto, SAMWU started a clean-up campaign and the council provided trucks and other equipment.

In Carletonville, Krugersdorp and Randfontein, SAMWU members pooled resources to ensure vehicles and ambulances were available for townships. In the past, residents had to wait long for ambulances. Pooling the vehicles brought improvements, although a lot of work must still be done.

A similar project in Uitenhage improved services to the townships and close rural areas.

NEHAWU - Improving health and management

Through the People's Hospital Project, started in 1998, in co-operation with a sister union in Cuba, NEHAWU has studied how to deliver efficient health services in a way which is friendly to the people and workers.

From this study, NEHAWU has started pilot projects to train shop stewards and hospital managers in using alternative ways of organising healthcare delivery. This provides an alternative to the "managerialist" approach, which just tries to make public health care mimic the private sector. Through this Project, NEHAWU members donated blankets for patients at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in 1999. The Derdepoort Hospital in North West Province provides healthcare to 13 villages and the Noth West government planned to sell it off to a consortium. NEHAWU and the community demanded it stay in community hands.

NEHAWU has been mobilising workers in every workplace to expose corruption, and to root out ghost workers in the provinces.



NEHAWU Statement on the 2000/2001 Negotiations

NEHAWU held a two-day National Bargaining Forum held on 15 - 16 April 2000. This meeting was convened after thoroughgoing consultation with all our members in the public service, private health, tertiary education and private welfare institutions. The purpose of the meeting was to consolidate demands and develop a strategy for 2000/2001 negotiations in all the above-mentioned sectors in which NEHAWU organises.

We are glad to announce that on the basis of having thoroughly obtained a mandate from members, NEHAWU is ready to start negotiations for 2000/2001 in all the sectors.

In all our negotiations, the union will strive to achieve the following five over-riding objectives:

  1. Closing the Apartheid Wage Gap - Reducing gross income inequality
  2. Achieving a Living Wage - Breaking the cycle of poverty wages
  3. Achieving the Social Wage - Access to housing, transport, skills development & training, medical aid, etc.
  4. Job Creation and Retention - Ensuring job security and job creation
  5. Transformation of the Workplace - Ensuring that all transformative legislation is implemented and further democratisation of the workplace

1. PRIVATE WELFARE SECTOR

Private Welfare employers pay some of the lowest, poverty wages in the country. Nehawu has been able to establish that 50% of workers in the welfare institutions earn less than R500.00. The majority of them don't have access to benefits such as provident fund, housing, transport and medical aid.

In this year's negotiations, we seek to address most of these problems. We want to raise the minimum wage to R1500 this year. We shall also campaign for a ministerial determination for a minimum wage in this sector.

We shall also vigorously campaign for the transformation and extension of social services in these institutions to all members of the community, as opposed to providing racial segregated services.

2. TERTIARY EDUCATION SECTOR

The tertiary education sector has responded to new challenges of transformation through simplistic and ideologically-driven solutions such as retrenchments, privatisation, outsourcing, and contracting out of services. In many areas, this is resulting in the decimation of public higher education, particularly universities. On the other hand, new private tertiary education institutions are growing.

These developments are further making it more and more difficult for students from working class and poor background to exercise their constitutional right of access to public education.

Our bargaining strategy in this sector will be underpinned by the defence of jobs and the transformation of higher education and pursuit of rationalisation of institutions that will improve the quality and efficiency of public higher education, while at the same protecting and creating jobs in the sector.

To this effect, Nehawu is currently engaging in the process of the Ministerial Task Team on the Shape and Size of higher education. We shall work jointly with other unions and student organisations in the sector to seek to shape a new future for higher education in South Africa.

On the basis of this important initiative of the Minister of Education in reconfiguring higher education, we are calling for a moratorium on institutional restructuring initiatives that seek to pre-empt the work of the Ministerial Task Team on the future shape and size of higher education.

3. PRIVATE HEALTH SECTOR

Private health has grown tremendously in the past five years. This growth has occurred without government regulation.

This is a sector that is making huge profits, while at the same time showing signs of huge exploitation of workers. Our research has revealed that 30% of workers in the private hospitals and clinics earn less than R1000. In addition, there is a lot of union bashing in the sector.

This sector has also been riddled and characterised by vicious outsourcing and contracting out. This in turn has resulted in massive job losses, wage cuts, loss of benefits, poor working conditions and poor quality jobs.

In this sector, we shall campaign to stop job losses and raising the minimum to R1500. We shall also want to campaign and call on the government to regulate the development of private health and its interface with public health.

4. PUBLIC SERVICE

NEHAWU is concerned that the way process of negotiations in the public service in 1999 was conducted has not helped the democratisation and transformation of the state.

As NEHAWU, our approach to collective bargaining does not only seeks to improve working conditions of our members, but it is also an important vehicle for improving service delivery.

It is for this reason that our 2000 negotiations will be underpinned first by discussions on policy. We are ready to engage the government on Labour and Remuneration policy. This policy will be underpinned by the following:

  • Build a developmental state and ensure that the state plays an active role in job creation
  • Building a united, non-sexist and non-racial public service that is equipped to advanced the process of transformation. We reject any attempt to fragment the public service.
  • Building sound labour relations, partnership and collaboration between the state as employer and employee organisations. We shall therefore continue to reject any unilateral restructuring by the government.

It is this policy discussion that will inform our wage demands for 2000/2001.

We shall endeavour to reach agreement with Cosatu unions, other unions and the employer on all the policy issues.

This approach was also agreed by the PSCBC meeting of 30 March 2000.



Labour court allows employers to discriminate against pregnant women

Early in April, the Mail & Guardian reported a Labour Appeal Courts' decision which says it is fair for employers to discriminate against pregnant women. In response to this decision COSATU said the decision "dealt a huge blow to our struggle for gender equality in this country". The SACP is extremely worried that this judgement will set a precedent allowing other employers to discriminate against women workers. We cannot accept the argument that this judgement is justified because it was a senior manager who was discriminated against. Part of the struggle for gender equality has been to encourage the promotion of women into senior positions in the workplace. Also, the situation must even be worse for working class women

The SACP has long argued that maternity leave should be a common benefit for all working women. Since women are the only sex who are able to bear children, to punish them on this ground amounts to nothing less than gender discrimination. Equality is guaranteed by the Constitution of our country. Therefore the decision to allow employers to discriminate against pregnant women is unconstitutional.

Workers who feel appreciated by their employers will be happier and productive. Employers should strive to build experienced and happy workers for long term benefits.

The SACP takes seriously the rights of children in our country. This must include the right to full-time nurturing and child-care in the early developmental stages. Mothers should be able to stay at home and to breast-feed their babies for the first few months. These early developmental and bonding stages are crucial to the child's development.

Many women want to further their careers and remain working women. Many women are not employed and are in low paying jobs. Wage earners are a benefit to South Africa as a whole since it increases the spending power of ordinary citizens and is therefore good for the economy. Women should therefore be safe from any workplace discrimination.

SACP calls for action

As the SACP, we are calling on COSATU, the ANC and gender equality organisations for a campaign to put pressure on the Labour Court and the relevant employer, Woolworths, to reverse this decision. This will include pickets, petitions and boycotts of Woolworths products. Action against Woolworths will send a powerful message to employers and our courts that they have a duty to promote gender equality at work. We can not only rely on these courts to advance our struggle. This must be firmly underpinned by mass action, that is, people's power!

Labour Court supports striking workers!

In March, the Labour Appeal Court ruled that striking workers should be given a hearing before they are dismissed. This decision was reported in the Sunday Times of 26 March 2000.

This judgement was not welcomed by the bosses. It is a major victory for workers.


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