SACP statement of support for World Day for Decent Work on 7 October 2022

The South African Communist Party (SACP) fully supports the workers of our country in marking the World Day for Decent Work on Friday, 7 October 2022. We support the countrywide marches as led by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

The SACP adds to COSATU’s voice in calling upon workers, across all union and federation affiliation, as well as community members, to support the nationwide action in their respective provinces. In particular, the SACP supports the action for a change in policy direction to create decent work and radically reduce unemployment, poverty, and inequality. The unity of workers is essential. We must all promote and build it through united action.

The SACP, coming out of its 15th National Congress in mid-July, committed itself to continue pursuing wide working-class unity. This includes deepening the efforts to achieve greater trade union unity, build popular left fronts around the immediate interests and aims of the working-class, and a powerful, socialist movement of the workers and poor to take care of the future in the here and now.

The SACP also expresses its unwavering solidarity with the workers in bargaining processes across the economy, in the private sector and in the public sector alike. We call on workers to unite behind their common demands.

The SACP has just launched the Red October Campaign 2022–2023. The campaign focuses on Land, Food and Work. Through this campaign, the SACP seeks to strengthen the struggle against the widespread lack of access to land and water affecting the workers and poor, to accelerate land redistribution, build sustainable livelihoods through worker- and community-owned co-operatives, and foster self-employment initiatives, all based on productive land-use and integrated human settlement development in both rural and urban areas.

Through the Red October Campaign, the SACP is building the capacity to advance rapidly towards the right of all to work. We are defending workers’ rights—for both employed and unemployed workers.

We are against retrenchments and neoliberal workplace restructuring. As employed and retrenched workers alike know from lived experience, every capitalist boss wants to produce more output and maximises profits with fewer workers at every moment than the previous one.

Equally important, by defending workers’ rights for unemployed workers, we emphasise that decent work is about the access to productive work to support one’s life and dependents and to make progress in life.

Our Red October Campaign is against unemployment and the rising cost-of-living, including the increases in food and other consumer goods prices affecting the workers and poor. Not unrelated, the Red October Campaign takes forward the struggle for a universal basic income grant.

We campaign explicitly for a universal basic income grant to reach all adults, without a means test, to avoid unfair discrimination and exclusion through bureaucratic measures. A universal basic income grant will also give women, most of whom are black women in townships, in squatter camps, in underdeveloped rural areas, in historically disadvantaged communities, some relief towards meeting their basic financial needs. This will contribute to their empowerment.

The SACP will continue to strengthen its programme to forge popular left fronts and build a powerful, socialist movement of the workers and poor. This is important to defend the gains and advance the aims and interests of the working-class.

It is essential for workers to unite and deepen the struggle for decent work, to push back against retrenchments and corruption, to improve health and safety, ensure work and income security, and protect the hard-won social dialogue processes and institutions, such as collective bargaining and collective agreements. Workers must stand up and unite to advance and protect their rights and fight for opportunities for young workers, who have the highest unemployment rate of all age groups, with young black workers the most affected.

The SACP has fought side by side with the workers against capitalist exploitation. We will continue to do so. The SACP does not have any separate interests apart from the interests of the working-class. Indeed, our aim is the same as that of the working-class, to end the system of capitalist exploitation and replace it with a socialist society, the only sustainable solution.

The gains of the working-class struggle, such as the overthrow of the capitalist regime and recognition of workers’ rights in our constitution, are visible and speak for themselves. However, so much still needs to be done to overcome capitalist exploitation of workers and domination of society, including divide and rule tactics affecting workers not only based on race and gender but based on nationality as well.

Capitalist bosses have over the years taken advantage of the vulnerability of immigrants, employing them under super-exploitative conditions akin to slavery and doing nothing to safeguard their rights as workers. Capitalists’ inherently insatiable thirst for maximum profits manifests itself in the hunt for the super-cheap labour available. This is why the capitalist bosses in almost every region take advantage of desperate, sometimes undocumented, immigrant workers who receive no real benefit for giving their labour power to the capitalists. World Day for Decent Work must benefit all workers regardless of their nationality and in every country.

The road towards social justice must include organising all workers into unions regardless of their nationality and building not just a national but an internationalist popular left front movement. This must find expression in all countries in our region, Southern Africa.

The fight for decent work goes beyond decent pay and general health and safety. The decent work agenda is a platform to wage the struggle against gender-based violence and gender and racial discrimination in the workplace, to achieve equal treatment of all workers regardless of their gender, race and sexual orientation.

Let us actively defend the right to all workers, not to mention women workers and LGBTQIA+ community members, to equal access to decent work, equal protection from discrimination and from harassment in the workplace.

The capitalist system has not done away with the subjugation of women and with racism in the workplace and the economy. Women and Black workers, young workers included, are the most affected by gender-based and racial discrimination in the workplace.

While the public sector has made noticeable progress through employment equity, affirmative action, the private sector is still white dominated, with white males leading in better positions and the higher you go in the workplace. This goes hand in hand with untransformed patterns of ownership and management control. Only the working-class struggle has the potential to eradicate gender-based violence and racial and gender discrimination in the workplace and in the economy.

Together, let us build a powerful, socialist movement of the workers and poor towards an equal and just society. —

Solly Mapaila, the SACP General Secretary


Hlengiwe Nkonyane
Communications Officer:
Media Liaison, Multimedia & Digital Communications Platforms Co-ordinator
Mobile: +27 79 384 6550