Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim File photo: Steve Lawrence

Cape Town - Numsa general secretary Irwin Jim has called on workers to come out in force in the union's national strike on February 26.

Speaking at a Cape Town Press Club lunch on Tuesday, he repeated the National Union of Metalworkers of SA's demand that the Employment Tax Incentive Act be scrapped.

The act was signed into law in December last year. Among its provisions is the subsidisation of business to employ young people.

“Numsa has called for a national strike and community action to demand an end to the (act), which will not encourage, but discourage, employment creation.

“We are calling on the working class and the poor of South Africa to come out and demonstrate in their numbers that we have had enough. The nation must be protected from those who are destroying it.”

Jim also repeated Numsa's decision, taken at a special congress late last year, that it would not campaign for the ANC ahead of the May 7 elections, or spend workers' money on its campaign.

He said the working class in South Africa was currently “leaderless”, and suggested the ruling African National Congress was out of touch with reality.

“The message is very clear: there is very little correlation between the ANC manifesto and the reality of the people of this country.”

This had made workers restless.

“The working class is leaderless, the working class is restless... Because those who used to lead them see them as a problem. But the problem is those who speak in their interests today.”

Jim said the ANC and SA Communist Party had “presided over a series of policies that have consistently failed the working class and the poor of South Africa”.

He said the structure of the South African economy had not changed, and remained the same as it was under apartheid.

“The same dependence on exporting raw minerals, the same enslavement to the minerals-energy-finance complex.

“Far from an increase in the manufacturing sector - the sector which can really produce jobs - we have a rapid process of de-industrialisation.

“We are not gaining jobs, we are losing them. In 2004, there were 3.7 million unemployed people in our country. Last year, that had risen to 4.1 million.”

According to Jim, Numsa represents 341 150 metalworkers.