Outsourcing is falling

The #outsourcingmustfall campaign is winning! Yesterday, after 10 days of strike action, University of Pretoria management signed an agreement meeting all of the workers’ demands. Salaries will be more than doubled immediately from around R2,500 now to R5,500, rising to R10,000 by the end of 2018; workers will now be able to access campus medical facilities for free and workers’ children will be eligible for free education at the institution. Workers will participate in a commission to oversee the phasing out of outsouring with an agreement that no worker who participated in the ‘unprotected’ strike will be victimised. Today, UP workers returned to work as part of the agreement.

The determination, unity and fighting spirit of the workers made this victory possible. With the ANC and Blade Nzimande capitulating to further student protests with the scrapping of registration fees for this year it is certain that outsourcing’s days are numbered. The other institution managements, including Medunsa, Tshwane South College (TSC), Tshwane North College, TUT and Unisa are under enormous pressure to follow UP’s lead. This is the time to step up the pressure. The ANC-led Tshwane municipality, whose outsourced workers are also participating in the strike, under the striking workers’ pressure, but also under the pressure of this year’s fast approaching local government elections has also indicated it is willing to negotiate.

Today striking workers will march to Unisa, TSC and Tshwane municipality; tomorrow a night vigil will be held at Unisa and on Saturday a mass march to Union Buildings will take place.

The Workers & Socialist Party initiated the #outsourcingmustfall campaign in November last year. In the wake of the victorious student movement that defeated tuition fee increases, outsourced workers at colleges and universities across Tshwane held mass meetings and organised themselves into the #outsourcingmustfall campaign alongside outsourced workers from Tshwane municipality and government departments in the city.

Unfortunately, the EFF has been spreading lies and falsehoods about the origin of the struggle against outsourcing and their role for their own narrow gain. This has meant they have been willing to sacrifice the unity of workers in struggle leading to unnecessary complications at some institutions and unnecessarily exposing workers to the threat of victimisation. All the strikes that have taken place at Tshwane colleges and universities this year were and are an integral part of the #outsourcingmustfall campaign despite any claims the EFF may now be making. The strike followed months of discussion and planning amongst workers at mass meetings in Burgers Park. Now that victory is in sight thanks to the tireless sacrifice of the workers, the EFF comes along to claim the credit! Workers will not forgive the EFF’s dishonesty nor their attempt to use workers’ issues to promote their own egos. It went entirely against the open spirit in which the campaign was organised.

The role of WASP in the campaign has led to the usual paranoid delusions from the ANC and sensationalism in the media. In The Star, WASP is reported as “working towards overthrowing the ANC government”. This distorted sensationalism arose because WASP Executive Committee member Mametlwe Sebei told the media that “we want to see the ANC government go” and “overthrow the whole system of capitalism”. This is all true! WASP is committed to building a mass party of the working class to unite the struggles of workers, communities and the youth. Such a party could lead a mass democratic movement to replace the pro-capitalist government of the ANC with a workers government that with the mass involvement of the working class and poor would democratically reorganise society along socialist lines so that the wealth that is presently in the hands of the few can be used to raise living standards for all, creating jobs, building houses, hospitals and schools. This transparent and democratic process is very different from The Star’s attempt to portray WASP as leading some conspiracy!

The ANC-led Progressive Youth Alliance, in a further betrayal of the students, has described those behind #outsourcingmustfall as “dark forces” trained by US imperialism’s CIA! The laughable implication is that WASP is such an imperialist tool. Sebei’s refusal to dignify with an answer a question from a Star journalist about WASP being “controlled” or “funded” from abroad was used to suggest he is hiding something. WASP has international links and we a are proud of them. We are an affiliate of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), uniting us with socialists and working class activists fighting for socialism in more than forty countries on every continent. Internationalism is a centuries old tradition in the working class movement.

As we have seen before, the ANC leadership is so out of touch with the working class that they cannot comprehend that workers can organise themselves for struggle. It is the ANC government that has managed the South African economy fully in lines with the neo-liberal dictates of world imperialism for the last twenty years.

This point and this mudslinging at workers will not be lost, especially in Tshwane, as the local elections approach. The ANC is showing clearly why workers should stand their own candidates in that election.

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