Now we step up the campaign to end all precarious work!

by Weizmann Hamilton, 2018

The Workers and Socialist Party welcomes the announcement by the City of Johannesburg that 4,000 security guards will be insourced.  We look forward to the full implementation of this commitment after a long, and in our view, unnecessary delay. We hope such delays will not affect the cleaners who Mayor Mashaba is now publicly committed to insourcing as well.

For the workers to enjoy “the dignity of fair pay, stable employment and benefits available to employees of the City” workers are entitled, as a minimum, to the full R9,500 – the difference between the R14,000 paid to the contractor parasites who treated workers as slaves and the R4,500 workers received as pay, as well as all the benefits agreed in the bargaining council between the unions and South African Local Government Association (Salga). This will take the security guards’ salaries to R14,000. The workers must also be granted direct representation in the bargaining council.

The recognised unions led by Cosatu had turned their backs on the workers, concentrating on corruption and class collaboration with the bosses. Nehawu for example refused to allow membership of outsourced or labour broker workers. Cosatu has now hypocritically hailed this agreement and denounced as “doubting Thomases” those who are legitimately skeptical over it. Cosatu, many of whose affiliate’s leaders had vested interests in outsourced and labour broking companies, has ignored the possibilities of using the 2014 labour law amendments to enforce the banning of labour broking through shop floor action by workers themselves, begging the ANC to pass legislation to ban it instead. Now the Gauteng ANC has once again showed its true class colours by denouncing the agreement as “unaffordable”.

This decision is a complete vindication of #OMF’s 2-year campaign for permanent, decent jobs and a minimum wage of R10,000. This outcome is not the result of a conversion on the road to Damascus by a leader of a neo-liberal DA who originally came to office promising wholesale privatisation and the break-up of e.g. PikitUp.  It is the fruit of the struggles of workers under the #OMF banner, thousands of whom still suffer the indignity of exploitation. Mashaba’s statement makes no commitment, for example, to the eradication of make-work schemes like Jozi@Work.  Instead Mashaba has used Jozi@work workers as a political football in their rivalry with the ANC – the architects of this scheme of exploitation.

Mashaba has hailed the EFF for its support. This may be the EFF’s reward for propping up an administration led by a xenophobe whose party they continue to describe as a “racist party of white monopoly capital”. Workers will of course take this victory from whence it comes. But we must be forgiven our skepticism over both the DA and the EFF’s motives. The EFF rejected a similar resolution drafted for them by the #OMF for the eradication of outsourcing in Tshwane as they have now moved in the City of Joburg. Why?

We are entitled to ask if this is not a case of both parties, neither of whom on their own could win sufficient support to form an administration on their own in the three metros they now control, rewarding each other for making it possible to form and administration? Like two convicts who have escaped form the prison of electoral rejection chained to each other, they are engaged in a dress rehearsal for the role they both hope to repeat at a national level with an ANC involved in a fight for survival as the dominant party of government.

The EFF may have temporarily fooled 1.3m voters desperate for an alternative to the left of the ANC with their radical rhetoric in the 2014 general elections, only to jump into bed with the “racist party of white monopoly capital” in 2016. But the bosses are not fooled. Just as they realised that Mugabe had the habit of spouting radical phrases before implementing neo-liberal policies in Zimbabwe, so too in SA the bosses have seen through the EFF’s radical posturing and are comfortable with the idea of a pro-capitalist coalition including the EFF in 2019. This is why Business Day’s Peter Bruce has suggested to Ramaphosa that is time to talk to Malema (BD 08/02/18).

Both Mashaba and the EFF must demonstrate their seriousness by ensuring the replication of this agreement firstly across all services in the City of Johannesburg, and secondly across all municipalities where they are engaged in this same vat-en-sit coalition in Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay. We want to see this also in the DA-controlled Cape Town and in the metros like Ekulhureni and municipalities like Rustenburg where the EFF has influence.

Most important of all we demand that both the DA and the EFF publicly call for the example they have now set in the city of Joburg to be emulated across the entire public sector – provincial and national government and parastatals for the eradication of all forms of precarious work. But we will not hold our breath. We will, continue our campaign. Gauteng Premier Makhura must keep to his word. We have been negotiating for more than a year with the Gauteng Legislature with their commitments to ensure that our demands are taken to national government. We will now step up the mass action. If the DA can make a concession to the demands of the workers so should the ANC.
#OMF has saved hundreds of jobs through mass action including occupations. Despite their ulterior motives, the DA/EFF have set a precedent and vindicated our campaign. We call upon the slaves of the precariat – those exploited by outsourcing, labour broking and all forms of precarious work – to swell the ranks of #OMF to fight for decent permanent jobs and a minimum wage of R10,000 a month.

For WASP the OMF campaign is an essential part of the strategy of organising the unorganized, mobilising the forces for the challenges ahead not only in the workplace but on the political plane. With the ANC in crisis, the bourgeois has thrown its weight behind the butcher of Marikana, Ramaphosa, who is poised to become the country’s president at the head of an ANC government or an ANC-led pro-capitalist coalition. He is armed for an escalation of the class war with a minimum wage fit for slaves, an arsenal of weapons to undermine the right to strike and savage austerity measures to “solve” the economic crisis created by the capitalists at the expense of the working class.

We must supplement our struggles in the workplace with a struggle on the political plane and campaign for a mass workers party on a socialist programme.