A South African ruling class brawl
This article was first published here https://libcom.org/news/south-african-ruling-class-brawl-31032017
In the midst of gorging themselves through exploitation and corruption, competing factions of the flabby ruling class in South Africa (the ruling class being capitalists, politicians and top state officials) have once again stepped into the ring to take pieces out of one another.
In the one corner of the fight is the Zuma faction - comprised of sections of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) capitalists, top state officials, and politicians aligned to Zuma - while in the other corner is the Ramaphosa/Gordhan faction - comprised of sections of the ANC leadership such as Ramaphosa and Gordhan, white capital and the South African Communist Party (SACP). These factions have recently been standing toe to toe exchanging blows and in the process, metaphorical blood has been spilled: those of a few Cabinet Ministers, including Pravin Gordhan.
Of course the working class (workers and the unemployed) have been relegated to ringside spectators. As with all boxing spectators, the fighting factions are attempting to vie for their support; while ensuring such working class spectators stay well out of the ring side-lined to standing room only. The question though is: does this battle within the ruling class in South Africa offer anything to the workers and the unemployed of the country?
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Securitas workers’ struggle
Throughout 2015 and 2016, security workers have been fighting a struggle to be insourced at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), through #OutsourcingMustFall (#OMF). Throughout they have been facing victimisation. At the end of 2016 a new round a victimisation occurred.
In December 2016, 143 of these workers were dismissed by Securitas, which is a multinational company contracted to provide security at the University. This was in the wake of lengthy disciplinary proceedings and an unsuccessful attempt by Securitas at the Labour Court to interdict workers from entering UWC’s premises.
In fact, Securitas immediately suspended the workers following the dismissal of the company’s application by the Court. They instituted charges against the workers in December. The charges that were levelled against the workers were:
·Assault / robbery of a supervisor
·Holding the senior management hostage at the Student Centre.
·Absenteeism from 17 October to 21 November 2016
The company charged 143 workers, including those who were on annual and maternity leave. They were all found “guilty” and dismissed. During this period the UWC management completely refused to intervene to avoid any drastic action against the workers. The General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA), the SRC President and FeesMustFall (FMF) activists tried to arrange an urgent meeting with UWC and Securitas management to ensure that workers would not be victimised and dismissed for struggling for insourcing. Both management teams were not willing to meet.
Read more: Securitas workers’ struggle