Note: this was written for a January 1996 COSATU general strike — the strike was canceled at the 11th hour.
The latest announcements of privatisation by the government – ESKOM and Dolphin- must be taken seriously by every worker concerned about the future. The Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF) calls on all workers to fight privatisation.
Workers must Fight Privatisation!
Since the late 1980s, workers have been subject to privatisation. We were subject to it under the apartheid regime. We are still subject to it under the new government. Only now it is called “restructuring of State assets”.
We must fight privatisation. It is an attack on the workers, on the unions, and on working-class communities.
Privatisation means Job Cuts!
The government says privatisation will “create new jobs” in the “medium- to long- term”.
Lies! We have had privatisation in South Africa since the 1980s. And there is still mass unemployment! Nowhere in the world has privatisation created jobs. In every country where it is applied, it means massive job losses for the workers. Privatisation means job losses. It will put us, and our families, on the streets.
Privatisation will Undermine Essential Services!
The government says that there must be some privatisation of services. They say this will help “deliver services”.
LIES! Business only cares about one thing- PROFITS!
We know what the bosses are like. Business won’t deliver services to people who cannot afford to pay charges. And business will erode the quality of the few services we do have, and raise their prices, so it can make more money. They will not improve services to the poor because the poor are not a “financially viable proposition”. Instead, they will fire the municipal workers.
Privatisation is not “Empowerment”!
The government says that privatisation will contribute to “black empowerment”.
LIES! It is quite true that privatisation will “empower” the black elite of businessmen and politicians. They are the ones who can buy shares. But for the majority of black people – the workers- it will mean job losses, worse working conditions, and fewer social services. We need more than a few rich Motlanas, Mosenekes and Rampahosas. We need an improvement in the living conditions of the workers and the poor. How can privatisation empower us when lose our jobs and have the water cut off?
We Call For:
- Mass actions and strikes against privatisation.
- Workplace occupations and strike action by workers threatened by job cuts. This must be backed up by maximum solidarity from other unions. We must demand continued unemployment with no cuts in pay or workers rights.
- Workers in the service sector must fight attempts to erode, privatise or cut off services. We must fight for more and better services to the communities of the workers and the poor.
- The unions must fight privatisation, not buy shares in privatised companies.
Forward to Socialism through Revolutionary Trade Unionism:
We say no to privatisation. This is because we know privatisation will hurt the working class. But we do not think government control, or nationalisation, is a real solution to the problem either. Any comrade who has worked for a government company like ISCOR or the municipality will tell you conditions are bad, and that the workers are oppressed.
The government will never serve the workers. It was built to serve the bosses and the rulers and still play this role. We must fight for real worker control of the economy through our trade unions: the trade unions should run the economy. We should run the factories and mines and farms through weekly meetings and elected shop-steward committees – without the bosses. Then we will not be oppressed, and WE will choose what to produce and WE will make all the basic necessities of life available to ALL.
WORKERS SOLIDARITY FEDERATION
“There will never be peace while the rich bosses have all the good things in life, and the millions of workers have nothing.
Only when the workers unite in militant trade unions to take over and manage the factories and land in a socialist revolution based on mass action can we end capitalist exploitation and the legacy of apartheid oppression.”
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