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Bones Skulu SACCAWU GS & UNI Africa President address to UNI World Congress 2014

Comrade Bones Skulu
Comrade Bones Skulu

Bones Skulu SACCAWU GS & UNI Africa President address to UNI World Congress, Cape Town, South Africa, December 2014

  1. Ladies and Gentlemen, Brothers and Sisters, Comrades; allow me to greet you on behalf of the UNI Africa Region, South African Affiliates and the Local Organising Committee. It is an honour to welcome you in the shores of South Africa and in the Mother City, Cape Town; to this August gathering.

  2. We are humbled and really honoured to have the World celebrating with us the 20 years of the South African Freedom.

  3. In 1994, twenty years ago South Africa was welcomed to the global community of democratic nations. But we did not reach this point seamlessly, without struggles, set-backs, sacrifices, prison, exile, underground and death.

  4. We could not have reached this place of democracy without solidarity. Solidarity from people all across the world, churches, celebrities in the arts, sports, actors. And indeed we did not arrive hear without the international solidarity offered by workers from all corners of the world.

  5. This freedom could have never been realised without your solidarity. Members of the UNI Affiliates present here today, their communities and the Labour Movement; have thrown their lot behind the struggle for the liberation of South Africa. Many sacrifices, including lives and jobs have been made in the process. Some workers risked their jobs by resolutely refusing to handle goods and products from South Africa.

  6. And today twenty years after our first democratic elections we can welcome the world community of UNI-Global Union to join us in celebrating twenty years of democracy. Because our achievements is not only ours, it also is yours. We are celebrating freedom from over 300 years of colonisation and over a century of a brutal racial oppression, control and exploitation of the South African majority by the minority Apartheid Regime; instituted by the descendents of the Dutch Colonists. the saying used to go like this ; “ They came as teachers but in reality were cheaters”. South Africa is the last to be freed from this colonial bondage that engulfed the entire continent, with Ghana being the first to enjoy such a political independence and freedom.

  7. It is a reality though that there can be no real freedom without economic and social freedom hence the clarion call for total economical and social emancipation.

  8. Throughout our struggle for national liberation, for emancipation, since the time of first contact with European colonisers centuries ago, we always had two central considerations that drove us in this struggle, political emancipation and economic emancipation.

  9. These two strands of our struggle are most forcefully expressed in the 1955 Freedom Charter:

    1. The People Shall Govern”
    2. The People Shall Share In The Country’s Wealth”
    3. The Land Shall Be Shared Among Those Who Work It”
    4. There Shall Be Work And Security”
    5. There Shall Be Houses Security and Comfort”
    6. The Doors Of Learning And Culture Shall Be Open”

  10. This program had become the ANC (ruling party today) program in 1956 and remain so today.

  11. Since the 1955 the people of this country black and white, mobilised workers, urban and rural communities, women, students, youth, religious communities the sporting fraternity and all sectors of society around the Freedom Charter.

  12. Many struggles were fought, many massacres were experienced, many were executed at the gallows, on the streets and in foreign lands.

  13. Our organisations were banned, leaders were sent to life and other lengthy terms of imprisonment others were banished to isolated and remote parts of the country, while others still were slapped with 24 house arrests where such persons were not allowed to leave their own homes and were never allowed to be in any gathering of more than tree people in their own homes. Yet were persevered without commitment and work in pursuance for the realisation of the ideals and freedoms outlined in the Freedom Charter.

  14. Others were driven in to exile to continue this struggle.

  15. In the darkest days of the 1960s where all organisations were banned, underground structures and cells of the national liberation movement continued talking, planning, organising and circulating the Freedom Charter.

  16. As the independent trade union movement, youth movements and student movements emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s through struggles it was not long before the Freedom Charter once again became the centre piece of our programs and mobilisation.

  17. And while throughout the 1970s we did not openly circulate and distribute the Freedom Charter, by early 1980s the groundswell of resistance against apartheid was so great that we openly distributed and discussed the Freedom Charter.

  18. And when COSATU was formed in 1985 29 years ago at a time when the liberation organisations were still banned, at a time when 35 000 thousand people across the country were held in detentions, COSATU adopted the Freedom Charter.

  19. We raised the flags of banned organisations defiantly, at our meetings, rallies, and funerals.

  20. And so also was our banners, slogans and the Freedom Charter paraded all over the world as more and more people from across the world came out in there millions to join us at home.

  21. Thus by 1989 the writing was on the wall for the racist regime and great cost of life and limb we entered the last decade of the previous century to construct a new political dispensation through negotiations that finally culminated in the first democratic elections in the history of our country where Nelson Mandela was elected the first democratically elected President in the history of South Africa. And so the new democratic South Africa was born.

  22. Yes, to every birth its blood and in South Africa the blood that gave birth to the new South Africa has flown for decades, for centuries, from brave men and women, young and old, urban and rural worker and student.

  23. Unfortunately and notwithstanding the great stories by our Government to reverse the frontiers of bondage, even in South Africa the two decades of freedom have not benefited the working class and the poor; instead widened the gap between the rich and the poor. We are plunged and somewhat entrenched into the triple crisis of inequality, poverty and unemployment and as well plagued by the diseases that find expression and parasite from such a triple crisis. Unfortunately the contemporary class contradictions are expressing themselves in a posture undermining, if not ,weakling the working class itself in particular its advanced detachment.

  24. Yet, as if history wanted to play once again a cruel trick on us here, as we entered the global community it was changing so rapidly, that much of what is in the Freedom Charter have not been realised, and much of what has not been realised here are not present in all parts of the world.

  25. So as we welcome you to our very young democracy, we are also acutely aware of the challenges faced by workers all over the world.

  26. As the global community of democratic Nations welcomed South Africa into their fold, we were also welcome into a global village of corporate greed. the contemporary class contradictions are expressing themselves in a posture undermining, if not ,weakling the working class itself in particular its advanced detachment.

  27. This is not because our Government is insensitive and blind to the situation but same given rise to and perpetuated by failure to either aggressively transform or completely replace the colonial economic infrastructure coupled with vigorous industrialization; underpinned by beneficiation of our mineral wealth produce. Of course, the neo-liberal global polices have negatively affected the continent and the country as is the case across the Universe.

  28. The economic mismanagement and related ills of the crisis infested Capitalist system have been brutally visited upon the innocent masses of the working class and the poor , hence the advocacy and struggle for alternatives can no longer be postponed; as concepts like effecting human face to this system has no prospects at all. Whilst the African Continent, huge as China and India; is rich in the mineral both beneath and above the soil ; its people especially the working class are poverty stricken, with some living in destitution and slums.

  29. The multilateral institutions and Governments are at work to integrate political and economic infrastructural systems within Africa, thus far has unfortunately excluded the views and participation of the citizens, the Labour Movement and working class organizations; An exclusion that seems to be by design. Some of the outcomes of such engagements have resulted into the poor masses competing with space and scarce resources, giving rise to conflicts that at times are labeled as xenophobia; fraught with shifting of blame to the very poorest of the poor masses.

  30. Most African countries are riddled with political destabilisation and insecurity that in many instances are instigated and pursued by external forces with different objectives; central to which is greed to control and looting of her riches and resources. Central to such conflicts are manipulated and power mongering rebels and fundamentalist that are heavily aided and armed with exchange of such resources by such external forces.

  31. Another evident element of forces is instituted of private securities that supply mercenary services, most of which are a collaboration of the Apartheid Regime spent force of the then security armed forces that perpetuated and sponsored the so-called Black on Black violence during the political negotiations leading up to South African democratic dispensation.

  32. To fool the unsuspecting public and gain world sympathy, excuses like regime change and dictatorships are relatively but conveniently and selectively uttered if not loudly shouted. Intentions of neo-colonialism are not far from the truth.

  33. So let us draw some lessons from our struggle against apartheid here, as we were not able to overthrow the apartheid regime on our own, as we needed international solidarity so amply demonstrated, so do we today need solidarity of each other as we together confront a bosses system that places profit before health, profit before education, profit before food security and sovereignty, profit before work security, profit before decent housing, profit before childcare, profit before human dignity, profit before people.

  34. This time solidarity require from us not only many countries in solidarity with one, like the case of Palestine, which is necessary to restore peace, justice and dignity in that part of the world, or the many other flash points in the world. Rather the solidarity we require is one of all workers with all workers, whether it is supporting Walmart workers in the North America in their struggle for trade union rights and minimum wages, garments workers from Bangladesh, low wage workers across Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, or the scourge of unemployment amongst youth across the globe.

  35. In a world where bankers are bailed out and families evicted from their homes, in a world where secretaries gets taxed more than their billionaire employers, in a world where single mothers are not offered any assistance, in a world where in many parts of the world urban rural populations face starvation, in a world where the most vulnerable, children, the elderly and women are not taken care of we need solidarity.

  36. We need a much stronger solidarity than ever before, a solidarity that will dwarf what we witnessed during or struggle against apartheid.

  37. Today we live in a world where bosses earn, hundreds and sometimes thousands times that which the average worker earn. We live in a world where workers will have to literally work hundreds of years to earn what some bosses earn in one year.

  38. We live in a world where families jostle with dogs as the scavenge on litter dumps to survive.

  39. This world need solidarity of the 99% with the 99% for the 99%.

  40. But as trade unionists we also know that we cannot win on the streets we will not win at the table, and when we can’t win it at the table we have to take to the streets.

  41. Therefore if anything the bringing together of trade unionists from across the world if they only make one pledge it must be solidarity, concrete through petitions, through representations, and above all through taking to the streets.

  42. Then only, will we begin to give meaning to not only another world is possible, but another world I necessary.

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