WFTU and South African miner: shoulder to shoulder*

WFTU and South African miner: shoulder to shoulder*

14th National Congress of NUM

Johannesburg: 23rd to 26th May, 2012


*Speech by Swadesh DEV ROYE (India)

Deputy General Secretary, WFTU & President TUI (Energy)


Comrades in the Presidium,

Distinguish Dignitaries, Dear Delegates and

Fraternal Representatives from the Country and Abroad,

On behalf of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) representing 80 million workers spread over 120 countries and also on behalf of the Trade Unions International (Energy), I extend warm fraternal greetings to the delegate comrades and all other participants in the 14th National Congress of the NUM.

The TUI of Energy of WFTU is preparing around the end of 2012 its World Congress in our sector and we invite from now, NUM, to actively participate and in all levels.

Please allow me to mention that within a very short period of three months this is my second visit to Johannesburg. In February 2012 I was here for attending the Presidential Council meeting of the WFTU.

Presidential Council Meeting of WFTU at Johannesburg

The Johannesburg meeting of the Presidential Council was the first major organizational exercise after the 16th Congress of WFTU held at Athens in April, 2011. It is worth noting that the Athens congress was a historic event for the international working class movement pursuing the doctrine of class struggle and strictly adhere to open democratic organizational principles. The ‘Athens Pact’ adopted by the congress is a powerful instrument for intensification of struggles against hegemonic aggression of imperialist forces.

The Presidential Council Members along with Special Invitees from 38 countries attended the meeting. On this occasion, the Regional Office of WFTU to co-ordinate work in the English speaking countries of Africa was inaugurated.

To commemorate the occasion and as curtain riser to formal official session of the Presidential Council, in the previous evening a colourful inaugural session recalled the grand history of WFTU through a documentary film. On this occasion seven legendry trade union leaders of the then SACTU who played important role in the early days of WFTU were felicitated.

On the concluding day a public meeting attended by more than a thousand ‘Shop Stewarts’ was addressed by Comrade George Mavrikos and Comrade Sdumo Dalmini the General Secretary of WFTU and President of COSATU respectively and also by the leaders of  NEHAWU, NUMSA, CEPPWAWU and POPCRU. Comrade Blade Nzimade, General Secretary of the Communist Party of South Africa also addressed the Presidential Council meeting. A significant event of the occasion was a delegation of WFTU composed of senior leaders from different continents had very meaningful meeting with President Jacob Zuma.

The Presidential Council discussed and adopted the work report of WFTU titled ‘Report of Action’ for the year 2011 and formulated ‘Programme of Action’ for the year 2012 which included observation of ‘International Day of Action’ on 3rd October 2012 demanding Food, Housing, Clean Water, Free Public Health Care System for all and has called upon the working class all over the world to observe the day with appropriate programmes of propaganda, demonstration, mobilIsation and action.

Current Crisis of Capitalism and Struggle of Working Class 

Comrades, your congress is taking place at a historic moment when International Finance Capital driven neo-liberalism under the capitalist order of imperialist globalization stands completely exposed. The hall mark of the exploded neo-liberal economic order was inequality, disparity, poverty and unemployment on the one hand resulting in rapid reduction in the purchasing power of the mass of the people thereby squeezing the market; on the other, speculation priority prevailed over productive-employment-generating investment for quick and maximum profit without any hassle. This has led to explosion of worst ever crisis and financial meltdown in the world capitalist order.

The crisis has originated in the United States and quickly spread over the whole of Europe. Now the USA and the EU have lost, if not for good, at least for long, the capacity to work as engine to pull the global capitalist economy. The capitalist system cannot re-emerge from the current crisis to the pre-crisis position. Even a partial recovery process is bound to be pregnant with socio-political changes. The just concluded Presidential and Parliamentary elections of France and Greece respectively are indication in point.

The present crisis also proves that social-democracy cannot provide a solution to the people. Today’s social-democracy is getting closer every day and is identified with the neoliberal strategies.

Now people’s protest against the onslaught of capitalist order has erupted all over the world. The entire Europe, the United States of America and the countries of Asia and Africa are reverberating with Strikes and militant Street Demonstrations as well as different other forms of struggles participated by millions and millions of worker to protest against brazen attack on rights and livelihood of toiling masses by the Governments of the respective countries under the dictates of imperialist agencies in their pursuit to protect the profit of the crisis ridden capitalist class. The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement originated in New York last September has gradually spread to 75 cities in the USA itself and also to hundreds of cities in almost all corners of the globe. And from this movement the slogan was raised – “Ninety Nine per cent versus One per cent” and “billions for speculators and pennies for the people” demonstrating intolerance to the system of one per cent capitalists looting ninety nine per cent of the people.

In India with CITU’s initiative and of the other WFTU affiliates we organized a big strike with the participation of more than 100 million workers.

WFTU the Champion of Class Struggles

The WFTU has a rich action.

Now consequent upon the exposition of the bankruptcy of neo-liberalism under imperialist globalization, the class collaborationist international trade union organizations who were proponents of neo-liberalism have been ideologically exposed while the class oriented trade union organization has ideologically emerged victorious. It is time for WFTU to pronounce with pride that it has been consistently fighting against imperialist globalization. And all those trade unions all over the world who are firm believer of class struggle must rally round the WFTU in the interest of their own ideological identity.

Comrade George Mavrikos, General Secretary, WFTU in his speech to the last Johannesburg Presidential Council meeting outlined the perception of WFTU about an international trade union organization, particularly in the current context of socio-economic-politico world situation, as noted below:

“Class oriented and revolutionary organization of workers that steadfastly fight against capital and against imperialism and promote and protect true working class democracy; Promote leadership of the organization from amongst the rank of working class; Leadership must respect criticism and self-criticism, observe proletarian discipline, and must be committed to fight out bureaucratic style of functioning and corruption; No discrimination of workers based on sex, color or religion; promote workers-peasants alliance, focusing poor farmers and agricultural workers; Organise strong international solidarity of working class with the struggles conducted in different countries, regions and the world as a whole for freedom, people’s democracy and trade union rights,; Impart class oriented trade union education on the basis of syllabus composed of inter alia, history of the working class movement of  different countries and also that of the international working class movement, development of class consciousness and motivation for class struggle”

Struggles of the People of Palestine, North Africa, West Asia & Latin America

 WFTU continues to be in the forefront in organizing world-wide solidarity campaign in support of the struggles of the people of Palestine against the Zionist policy of brutal occupation, aggressions, blackmail, blockades and other criminal acts against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza that has been continuing for decades.

WFTU has come out vociferously against the machination of imperialist forces in defeating the uprising of the people of the Arab world against authoritarian regimes.  Centering round the people’s upsurge in the countries of North Africa and Middle East the double-faced deceit of the US led imperialist powers has been totally exposed. The US and its European allies are conspiring and promoting disturbances against the Governments of Syria and Iran who are not subservient to them in the name of democracy and civil rights etc, while at the same time openly supporting the brutal suppression and atrocities on the people’s up-surge against the pro-imperialist  autocratic regimes in Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Morocco,  Saudi Arabia etc with money and military supplies.

The WFTU organized many activities of solidarity with the Palestinians. In Ramalha we organized an international Conference with the participation of 18 countries, on April 17th we organized protests in the Israeli Embassies of many countries for the deliberation of Palestinian prisoners, we organized a demonstration in Napis Alech, in Cairo we organized a Conference with workers of Gaza, in the ILO we are planning to hold an event of Solidarity with the Palestinians and many other.

 The victory of the pro-left political forces in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and some other South American countries as well and their endeavour for an alternative path to neo-liberalism, have delivered a severe blow to  US imperialism. The coming together of the 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations at a conference in Venezuela recently and founding a regional forum called Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is a very significant development. Socialist Cuba continues to be a beacon of anti-imperialist struggles in the entire Latin American continent. It has played catalytic role in motivating, uniting and mobilising the people of Latin America against US imperialism.

 Profile of the Mining Industry and NUM

Dear Comrades,

The documents and deliberation of your congress shall be huge source of material facts, figures and formulations pertaining to the mining industry and about the political and organizational perspective and proud account of the struggles of the mineworkers under the leadership of NUM.

However, WFTU honours the pride and privilege of the mineworkers of South Africa based on the fact that the country is one of the most natural resource rich countries in the world gifted with raw and semi-processed mineral products, gold, diamond, platinum and steel, coal, iron and aluminum. The country has been categorised as ‘Mining-Energy Complex’. The Paper presented by NUM at the International Coalminers’ Conference in Kolkata, India in the year 2007 provided a very elaborate picture of the coalmine sector in the country. Incidentally I had the privilege of anchoring the seminar.

Allow me to mention that I am conscious that I am attending the congress of the largest affiliate of COSATU in terms of membership strength. Now, the strategic importance of the mining industry and the consequential power and strength you have acquired, NUM has occupied very important place in the working class movement of the country. The history of your union is the history of heroic struggles. The 2007 strike struggle successfully conducted by you continues to be the unforgettable legend of the working class struggle in South Africa.

Political Vision and Mission of COSATU

The WFTU is waiting for COSATU to come home.

Successive Congress documents of COSATU speak volume that it (COSATU) is very much upfront in its class oriented political vision and mission and also strict believer in the doctrine of class struggle and committed to establishment of socialism by overthrowing capitalism. It will not be exaggeration to say that there is no match to COSATU in the world in such forthright revolutionary political resolve of a trade union.

Reiterating its commitment on National Democratic Revolution (NDR) and Socialism a COSATU congress resolution noted “The working class must re-direct the NDR towards socialism and jealously guard it against opportunistic tendencies that are attempting to wrest it from achieving its logical conclusion, which is socialism. The working class should assert its leadership role of the NDR and not outsource this leadership role to other class forces.”

With humility I would like to say that WFTU is the class oriented International Trade Union organization stands shoulder to shoulder with the working class of South Africa in their political objective of NDR and Socialism under the leadership of COSATU and the vanguard of the working class of South Africa. We look forward to formalize and further strengthen our partnership with the trade union movement of South Africa in our struggle against imperialism and achieving favourable changes in co-relations of class forces for revolutionary working class struggle.

I, on behalf of WFTU, wish your Congress a reverberating success and convey our thanks for the invitation and opportunity provided to participate in your Congress.

We know that inside COSATU this period there is a strong discussion taking place, for COSATU to return home, to her real family, to her brothers.

We are waiting for you, dear brothers. The door of WFTU is open and we are waiting for you to fight all together against imperialists, against capitalists.

Long Live International solidarity of working class!Long Live the Fraternity of South African Working Class and the WFTU!

Up Up Socialism !

Down Down Capitalism!