A group of organisations hope to change the future of South Africa through a plan of action expected to kick off in two months.
The two-day working-class summit – an assembly of more than 147 organisations representing academic, labour, community, and women’s bodies – adopted an eight-point programme of action late last month to address social and economic challenges facing the nation.
It resolved to mobilise workers to embark on a three-day general strike and mass occupation of all cities on a date to be agreed in October.
“We shall mobilise a single day for mass occupation of land, an end to evictions of farmworkers, backyard dwellers and informal sector workers,” said SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) spokesperson Patrick Craven.
Craven said the summit was also concerned at the increase in unemployment figures – up from 26.7% to 27.2% – and that of work seekers, which has risen from 0.5% to 37.2%.
He said a total of 105 000 jobs were lost in manufacturing, a sector deemed as “the key area of the economy”.
“These shocking figures show why South Africa is the protest capital of the world and why the working-class summit was so necessary, to turn the tide against the attacks on jobs and living standards, which are pushing more and more South Africans into poverty and despair.”
The following are among members appointed to the steering committee: Saftu’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi; Anele Yawa of the Treatment Action Campaign; Carmia Schoeman of Water Crisis Coalition; John Appolis of the General Industrial Workers Union; Brian Ashley of the Alternative Information Development Centre; Julekha Latib of Gauteng Informal Development for Women and Numsa’s Karl Cloete.
The gathering was attended by 1 000 delegates, who expressed concern at rising unemployment, poverty and gross wealth disparities. It adopted a plan of action to:
- Reduce the number of working hours in the private, public sectors to ensure that work is shared;
- Create five million jobs over next five years;
- Place five million young people in education institutions or internships;
- Oppose recently passed ‘poverty’ minimum wage and amendments to labour laws;
- Support the three-day general strike and mass occupation of main cities;
- Introduce a basic income grant;
- Strengthen community struggles; and
- Ensure social ownership of land.