Cape Town - In the first show of force since turning its back on the ruling party in December, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) joined a dozen “progressive social movements” in a picket outside Parliament on Wednesday.
The protest, under the banner of the “Jobs for Youth Campaign”, was scheduled to coincide with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Budget speech.
Central to the picket was the re-emphasis of Numsa’s opposition to the Tax Incentive Scheme and Youth Wage Subsidy. The union argues that these measures will benefit employers and not workers. It will also take money from essential public services and lead to the displacement of older, unsubsidised workers, Numsa says.
At the union’s national conference in December, it committed itself to lead a new “united front to co-ordinate struggles in the workplace and communities”. It accused the ANC of a neo-liberal, pro-capitalist economic agenda. Yesterday, members of this united front sang songs that referred to Zuma’s cabinet as the “new black boers”.
Outside Parliament, Numsa deputy president Basil Cele charged that April 27, Freedom Day, would herald 20 years of “bourgeois democracy”.
“The main culprits… perpetuating the lie that the national democratic revolution is still on track come from the ranks of the working class (and) now enjoy the… power and social comfort in a bourgeois Parliament (under) President Jacob Zuma,” he said.
Numsa provincial secretary Vuyo Lufele handed a memorandum to Treasury officer Dalu Majeke.
Numsa could not gain permission in time strike. But this week the National Economic Development and Labour Council received a notice from the union, paving the way for a “national day of action” on March 19.