APF in full support of ongoing municipal workers strike
Thursday 4 August 2005 by Dale
APF IN FULL SUPPORT OF MUNICIPAL WORKERS ONGOING STRIKE FOR A LIVING WAGE AND FOR QUALITY, FREE AND PUBLIC PROVISION OF BASIC SERVICES TO THE POOR
WHILE WORKERS AND THEIR EXTENDED FAMILIES STRUGGLE EVERYDAY JUST TO SURVIVE , AND POOR COMMUNITIES PROTEST OVER LACK OF SERVICE DELIVERY, FAT CAT POLITICIANS, BUREAUCRATS AND CORPORATE CEOs AWARD THEMSELVES EVER-HIGHER SALARIES/PERKS AND THEN CLAIM THERE IS NO MONEY TO PAY A LIVING WAGE TO WORKERS OR TO DELIVER FREE SERVICES TO THE POOR
On Monday, the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) will continue with its ongoing strike for a living wage and for the quality, free and public provision of basic services to the poor. As has been the case throughout the post-apartheid period, the main impetus behind the strike lies directly at the doorstep of the ANC government’s continued embracing of capitalist, neo-liberal policies. Despite loud claims to the contrary, it is these policies that ensure the continued impoverishment of workers and the enrichment of a select few economic and political elites.
The basic demands that provide the backdrop to the ongoing SAMWU strike are the same demands that millions of workers put forward when they placed the ANC into government in the last three elections. These demands are simple: a living wage for all workers (especially the lowest paid), year-on-year collective bargaining agreements, the public provision of free basic services for the majority who are poor, a job-creating economy driven by a strong and accountable public sector and the structural redistribution of wealth to create a lasting social and economic equality. In the 11th year of post-apartheid South Africa, none of these demands have become a lived reality for the majority.
Municipal workers perform some of the most necessary and unsanitary work in delivering public services in our communities, and yet government - through the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) - has refused to agree to a R350 (or 8%) per month wage increase and continues to insist that municipal workers tighten their belts and hope somehow that their children can still go to school, the family can be fed, adequate healthcare can be afforded and the bond/rent can be paid.
Instead of accepting SAMWU’s legitimate wage demands, government has tried to portray the workers as being greedy, unruly malcontents and brought out the police to violently clamp down on worker marches/demonstrations. Meanwhile, fat cat politicians, city managers and corporate CEO’s unashamedly congratulate themselves, with outrageous salaries and perks, on a job well done while the workers who actually produce wealth and do all the dirty work are told that there is no money for them to live a decent life. While the ANC government and domestic/international capitalist bosses bask in the ‘successes of macro-economic stability’ and make plans to extend it to the rest of the continent through the African Union and NEPAD, millions of South African workers (and those that depend on them) are left scrounging for the crumbs from the ‘masters’ table. The striking workers are sending a message that they will no longer accept socio-economic policies that impoverish workers whilst increasing the concentration of wealth of a few elites.
Just as is the case in the rest of the capitalist world, it is not South African workers who are collectively guilty of economic treachery, criminal behaviour and outright political betrayal. An entire social, economic and political system that is built on glorifying, and then institutionally rationalising, inequality and greed is neither sustainable nor desirable. Smartly packaged political rhetoric, smug derision and strong-arm tactics cannot paper over the widening social and economic gaps in South Africa or the deepening crisis of legitimacy of the capitalist system globally.
What the government and its private sector cheerleaders refuse to acknowledge, is that SAMWU’s strike is part of a much larger working class struggle for a living wage, against poverty and managerial arrogance/greed and against capitalist barbarism. For the APF, the transformation of the public service has to begin with the working conditions of those who are public workers. As long as workers and the poor continue to suffer from the disastrous effects of the privatization and corporatisation of basic services, forced removals/evictions and other government policies driven by adherence to capitalist neo-liberalism, there can be no real transformation
THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE HAS TO BEGIN WITH THE WORKING CONDITIONS OF PUBLIC WORKERS!