August 2010, Week 4


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Sun, 22 Aug 2010 23:31:30 -0400
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Workers Demands Are Legitimate!!
SACP Media Statement
South African Communist Party
August 22, 2010

From the outset of the current public sector strike, the
SACP has consistently indicated its support for what we
regard as a legitimate struggle for a living wage in the
wider context of the struggle for decent work. The SACP
also fully agrees with our comrades in COSATU that the
wage gap between upper echelons, on the one hand, and
the majority of workers, on the other, in the public
sector (as in the private sector) is unjustified and

The SACP also fully agrees with COSATU statements that,
in the course of exercising their legitimate right to
strike and to picket, workers must avoid any acts of
violence and physical intimidation. Life-threatening
actions like the invasion of operating theatres, the
blocking of access to public emergency services, or the
abandonment of new-borns in ICUs are completely alien to
the traditions and values of our struggle.

Even during the height of the anti-apartheid struggle,
MK operatives, for instance, were instructed at all
times to go out of their way to avoid collateral
injuries and deaths and even to abort missions when
there was a risk of death to innocent civilians. It is
the unions themselves that must now take the lead in
condemning acts of grave indiscipline which are, in
effect, counter-revolutionary, and a serious set-back to
the working class struggle. Workers who are involved in
counter-revolutionary and anti-people activities,
workers who conduct themselves as witting or unwitting
agents provocateurs, should be disciplined and if
necessary expelled from their unions.

At the same, we also call on our comrades in the police
and other law enforcement agencies to conduct themselves
with maximum restraint. We call on government and the
unions to move speedily to find an effective settlement
to the present dispute.

Above all, we call on all of our formations not to play
into a right-wing neo-liberal agenda that seeks to break
the organic and strategic unity between Alliance
partners, between organised workers and wider popular
forces, and between unions and our democratic state.
This means that, from all sides, we need to remain
focused on what unites us - our key strategic
priorities. When the relationship of our democratic
government and public sector workers is reduced to an
employer-employee relationship then our revolution is in
trouble. Over the past decade-and-a-half the SACP has
consistently criticised government (and to some extent
the ANC) for often failing to consolidate, mobilise and,
indeed, treat, key sectors like teachers and health-care
workers as the core protagonists of any genuine
democratic transformational programme.

The current strike, and other major strikes this year,
have all high-lighted one of many critical challenges we
face. It is no accident that in all of these strikes, it
is the housing allowance issue that often looms largest
in worker demands. The great majority of organised
workers, not least those in the public sector - among
them police, nurses, teachers - find themselves with a
serious housing problem. Most of these workers are
trapped in a housing limbo - they do not qualify for
state-provided subsidised housing on the one hand, and
they are rejected by the banks when they apply for
mortgage bonds on the other. Part of an answer may well
be to increase housing allowances - but it is doubtful
if this, on its own, will ever help to close the grave
gap in the housing market.

In this regard, we call on workers to join the SACP in
our ongoing financial sector campaign. Let us inject
fresh energy into this campaign, and particularly let us
engage government and banks, including relevant
publicly-owned Development Finance Institutions, to
ensure that house-loan policies are transformed, and
that there is a massive construction of appropriate
mixed-income and well-located housing, including rental
housing. The SACP has called for the formation of a
dedicated publicly-owned Housing Bank.

Instead of flinging irritable insults at each other,
while the private sector and anti-worker elements sit
back and laugh, let us, once more, forge a militant
strategic unity within our Alliance, and between
government and the working class.


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