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SACP message to the Presidential Council Meeting of the World Federation of Trade Union (WFTU)

13 February 2012

By Blade Nzimande, General Secretary
Dear comrades,

The SACP is privileged to be part of this important occasion which takes place immediately after the historic 16th World Trade Union Congress in Athens last April. The SACP feels honoured as both the progressive trade union movement and socialist forces in SA host socialism the Presidential Council of the WFTU as part of a broader process to ensure that WFTU is better placed to play its historic role as a class-orientated trade union movement.

For us as the SACP, the continuing existence and strength of the WFTU, provides the only hope for the rebuilding of a truly progressive labour movement committed to the abolition of exploitation of man by man.

The historic relationship between the vanguard party of socialism and the organised detachment of the working class in SA goes back for many decades. The SACP holds firmly to the view that forging and deepening closer relations between the communist and labour movement is the only guarantee to achieve an alternative and rational society based on meeting the needs of the people and not the greedy interests of a few.

The SACP and the WFTU both know very well that in many countries one of the biggest weapons used against the working class by the bosses as well as their social democratic and liberal lackeys was to drive a wedge between the communist and labour movement, thus severely rolling back the advances by both. As Lenin said one without the other leads to the defeat of both. The SACP therefore remains firmly committed to the ideals of the WFTU to build and strengthen class oriented trade unions. That is why in our South African context our relationship with Cosatu is of fundamental importance.

Indeed it is clear to everybody that the class collaboration between sections of the trade union movement with social democrats and liberals has led to the severe weakening of revolutionary class offensive against the barbarism of capitalism. Nowhere is this as clear as today when, at the height of one of the most severe of capitalist crises, it is the workers who are paying the price of this crisis often with collusion from elements within the trade union movement. In South Africa we call this business unionism sometimes often hidden behind revolutionary sounding slogans and phrases. Globally it is indeed possible that social democratic trade unions is reaching its point of exhaustion, and cannot be able to defend and deepen workers` gains. Hence the fundamental importance of class oriented trade unionism, and in the language of the SACP, the necessity to build red trade unions in our country and globally.

The SACP would therefore like to congratulate our four allied unions for hosting this event. We wish to salute you for the efforts you have embarked upon to bring all of the progressive trade unions in our country under the umbrella of the WFTU. We recognize that there is still a road to travel towards this objective, but you must rest assured that the SACP will also be a reliable ally in this journey.

The centenary of the African National Congress and our Alliance

As progressive forces, together with millions of other South Africans, and indeed joined by many throughout the whole world, we recently celebrated the centenary of the African National Congress (ANC) and by so doing marked almost as many decades of an interconnected struggle for liberation and social emancipation

The relationship and alliance between the ANC, the SACP and the progressive trade union movement is informed by our own realities of the evolution and character of capitalism and national opression in South Africa.

Capitalism came to our country as a direct result of colonial conquest and imperialism. From its birth it stood on the shoulders of European achievements. Capital from Europe financed the opening of the mines; and it was the colonial state that stepped in to provide the resources to build infrastructure railways, roads, harbours, posts and telegraphs. The development and reproduction of capitalism was integrally to, and dependent on, the national oppression of the black majority. Therefore the struggle against capitalism was inextricably linked to the struggle for national liberation. This constituted the objective foundations of our Alliance.

We are making these points to reaffirm the historic relationship of the progressive forces fighting on the side of the working class, peasants and rural and urban poor on one-side against the white ruling capitalist class on the other!

Much has conditions has changed significantly, especially since our democratic breakthrough, this alliance remains as relevant. This is because taking forward the struggle for socialism still rests on the most complete emancipation of the black majority. At the same time there can be no complete emancipation of the black majority short of a transition to socialism.

Historic ties with the WFTU

  • The progressive trade union movement in SA and the national liberation movement have over decades had very strong fraternal ties with the world trade union movement
  • We also salute the progressive stance taken by WFTU to recognise the work of those who were a part of this world trade union movement before the unbanning and made their contribution towards a class-orientated trade union movement globally
  • The commonality of purpose and ideological outlook further strengthened the bonds of friendship between the working people of our country and the rest of the workers of the world

The capitalist crisis and the necessity of class oriented trade unionism

We are gathering in the midst of what is possibly the worst capitalist crisis since the Great Depression of the late 1920s. This is an opportunity to further deepen internationalist working class solidarity.

The deeper capitalism sinks into a crisis the greedier and more exploitative it becomes. This crisis is not only an economic crisis but it is also the crisis of the neo liberal ideology. Capitalism has no answer to this crisis, other than to seek to offload it onto the working class. We must resist this. Let us use this crisis also to expose the bankruptcy of business, narrow worldwide and collaborative trade unionism.


The SACP stands ready to make it`s contribution in this effort, and to play its part as a component of the forces fighting for the overthrow of capitalism

Socialism is the future! Build it Now!