South African strike: Political watershed? – Gentle

South African strike: Political watershed?

Leonard Gentle

Pambazuka News, 2010-09-09, Issue 495

The public sector strike has been suspended. But whether the unions accept the state’s latest offer or not, this strike may well be (and these things we are almost always fated to see only in retrospect) a watershed in South African politics.
Firstly, amidst all the media opprobrium and invective against the strikers and the stories of intimidation, there is also a picture emerging of the appalling state of the public sector.

Whilst the very wealthy and even many middle-class people simply avoid much of the public sector, sourcing health services from medical aids and private hospitals, sending their kids to private schools and living in gated communities cleaned by private companies, most other South Africans are dependent on public healthcare, public schooling and other public services. And not only have these been seriously neglected, the very people who must provide the services – teachers, nurses, state clerical workers – are underpaid and angry enough to hold out for a protracted strike in order to get some improvement. Continue reading


How Policy Is Affecting the Marginalized (South Africa) – Vavi

Zwelinzima Vavi’s Address to the Ruth First Memorial Lecture ruthfirst2aOn the 17 August 2010

Cosatu General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, delivered the address at the Ruth First Memorial Lecture at Wits University. The theme was “How policy is affecting the marginalised and its impact on poverty”.

In keeping with the current issues faced by South Africa, Zwelinzima Vavi says “…we ask a question and pose a challenge to the journalists and academics of today: How many journalists and academics have taken forward the legacy of Ruth First? How many on a daily basis, battle against poverty and inequalities and fight for economic justice as she did?” Continue reading

Charter of Migrants Campaign

Promotion for the drafting of the World Charter of Migrants in Africa

10-17 October 2009
Tuesday 27 October 2009
by Hicham Rachidi
popularity : 100%

The final declaration from the Conference of West African Civil Societies on Migration and Development, which was held in Dakar on 12-14 October, launched an appeal to Euro-African civil society organizations to help promote the drafting of the World Charter of Migrants and to reinforce the efforts of migrants and their organizations.

The Conference provided an opportunity for presenting the World Charter for Migrants initiative to participants from Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cape Verde, Cameroon and Gambia, together with migrants from France, Belgium and Germany.

The meeting in Dakar coincided with the 4th anniversary of the terrible incidents at Ceuta and Melilla in 2005 which ended with the killing of at least 14 migrants simply because they tried to climb over a mesh fence. Morocco’s involvement in “migration flow management” policies has been much criticized.

The participants discussed the consequences of these “migration flow management” policies and the mobilization of considerable resources for implementing such policies, which in Africa have been subjected to takeovers by NGOs working on development projects. Millions of euros are distributed to actors working on solidarity projects, officially to help with “development” in priority countries (AENEAS, Migration-Development), but are in fact used for the organization of campaigns to ‘inform’ and dissuade people from ‘emigrating’.

This leads, on the one hand, to the perversion of development aid and, on the other, to the corruption of civil society representatives who consequently become actors of obstruction, rather than of change. Indeed, civil society representatives in the South are carrying out tasks usually attributed to police officers serving the murderous politicians who have caused and continue to cause terrible tragedies. The participants at the Dakar Conference, aware of the stakes involved, stressed the importance of challenging these policies. The Final Declaration (see appendix to this document) is proof of a sincere commitment to the launch of a massive mobilization of the South to counteract these externalization policies.

The members of the World Charter of Migrants Coordination Team held a number of meetings in order to present the Charter and the drafting process and to establish an African coordination team. Davina Ferrera, Jelloul Ben Hamida and Hicham Rachidi met with migrants living in West Africa, many of whom are committed to international solidarity programmes in various African countries.

A first meeting was held with people who could become members of the World Charter of Migrants African Coordination Team. As people who could take the role of ‘resource members’, they are involved in international militant networks and have taken up the call from the International Coordination Team: Sarah Klingeberg (Italy/Germany/Senegal), Gwenaëlle de Jaquelot (France/Senegal/Mali), Oumo Zé (Belgium/Burkina Faso), Amadou Mbow (Mauritania/Senegal), Oussmane Diarra (Mali/Senegal), Lamine Niass (Senegal/Mauritania), Hicham Rachidi (Morocco/France), Davina Ferrera (Algeria/Spain/France), and Jelloul Ben Hamida (Tunisia/France).

A second meeting was held with Sedikki Daff, an activist working with the Alliance for a New Governance in Africa and also with migrants in shantytowns in the Dakar area (2,000,000 inhabitants). He told us of his concerns about the associative, or ‘alternative’, approach in Senegal (see the first part of this report). Mr Sedikki’s concerns were echoed by Liamine Niass who works with the collective of traditional fishermen and who, despite his efforts in Senegal, is systematically excluded by the ‘cartel’ that controls the associative networks in Senegal.

These two activists reassured us that they are prepared to participate in promoting and supporting the World Charter of Migrants campaign in Africa.


A visit to the Island of Gorée and proposed meeting of the World Coordination Team in 2011 in this symbolic site, in order to continue the coordination work on existing proposals Continue reading

Public Sector Workers’ Strike in South Africa – Photos, Rees

Rob Rees

Pictures: Friday, 1 June 2007, first day of Public Service workers’ strike, Johannesburg (Gauteng) march

Photo by Rob Rees, 072 225 7899,

Public sector wage strike (PowerPoint) 13 June 2007, Johannesburg, Part 2

Public sector wage strike (PowerPoint) 13 June 2007, Johannesburg, Part 1

Public sector wage strike (PowerPoint) 1 June 2007, Johannesburg

(34 images in a 2.5 megabyte PowerPoint file including the 18 shown below)

If you use any of Rob Rees’s images, please credit him and give contacts:

Rob Rees, 072 225 7899,

Continue reading

Social Citizenship, Decline of Waged Labour, and Worker Strategies – Barchiesi

Social Citizenship, the Decline of Waged Labour and Changing Worker Strategies

Franco Barchiesi

Sunday 5th September 2004 posted by dionysus

Employment and social citizenship in the constitutionalisation of wage labour

The social location of labour in post-apartheid South Africa has undergone dramatic shifts that underpin a reconfiguration of the material bases of the new democracy. This chapter will analyse changes in waged employment during the first seven years of democratic government (1994-2001), with particular regard to their relationships to workers’ access to social rights and citizenship and to evolving worker identities and responses. The aim is to establish a link between a quantitative decline of stable waged employment, on which virtually all statistical indicators concur, and what can be defined as a ‘peripheralisation’ of work in the context of life strategies, forms of income, and collective organisation. Unions’ perceptions and strategies in relation to such changes will be dealt with in greater detail in other chapters of this volume. However, the aspects here under examination are decisive in the study of democratisation and of its limits in a context of high expectations for social redress faced with a legacy of extreme socio-economic inequality. Conversely, the crucial role played by the South African labour movement in the country’s democratic transition has come under increasing strains as a result of re-insertion in a globally liberalised capitalism. This is a reflection of, and it actually reinforces, two concomitant trends: first, the emergence of new vulnerabilities in the labour market as a result of employment fragmentation and instability; second, the adverse consequences in terms of workers’ income of the erosion or enduring absence of social citizenship rights. Changes in employment and crisis in the access to social rights are therefore examined here as two converging trends in explaining the decline of wage labour in the ‘new’ South Africa The relationships between work and social citizenship have provided a central theme for sociological and political analysis of labour movements in twentieth century industrialised capitalism. The rise of mass production and the expansion of waged employment, often with the active support of the state, have indeed defined ‘social citizenship’ as a new generation of rights to expand and integrate previous liberal-democratic definitions (Marshall, 1950). Continue reading

Reinventing, Reimagining, Rebuilding – Labour Internationalism

ReinventingLabour is for people who organize, struggle, analyze, critique and strategize within and around the international labour movement. It is for people who seek a space to share ideas and resources regarding challenges and potentials to strengthen a vibrant, critical, plural and emancipatory movement of all kinds of working people everywhere – a movement intimately related to the new ‘global justice and solidarity movement’ (aka the anti- or alter-globalisation movement). Continue reading