Labour

Is there a Future for Progressive Politics in South Africa?

Picture: Alexis Tsipras of Greece Fazila Farouk - Analysts argue that the expulsions of Zwelinzima Vavi and Numsa from Cosatu, by a faction sympathetic to President Jacob Zuma, have clear consequences for a major re-alignment of labour in South Africa. Perhaps more importantly it forces to the fore significant consequences for the re-alignment of politics in South Africa. Numsa, the radical metalworkers’ union, is in fact hosting a “Conference for Socialism” this very week to determine whether the ground in South Africa...

Time for Change in South Africa's Labour Movement

Picture: Expelled General Secretary of COSATU Zwelinzima Vavi, courtesy GovernmentZa/flickr Steven Friedman - If that well-worn cliché about never wasting a crisis applies to anything, it is the labour movement today. Contrary to some current rhetoric, the movement does not need to return to what it was: it needs to become something different. Deepening tensions in Cosatu, which saw the departure of the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) and now general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, have inevitably conjured up nostalgia for its past. As the Cosatu central executive abandons internal...

Japan's Part-Time Workers Forced to Live in Internet Cafes

Picture: Media Storm Video Internet café refugees started appearing in Japan in the late 1990's. They are temporary workers who live in Intenet café cubicles because their salaries are too low to rent apartments. Japan's temporary workers earn less than half the income of full time employees; a disparity that leads directly to poverty. “Net Café Refugees” is a short film by Shiho Fukada. It forms part of a trilogy of films that examine Japan's highly stressful work environment. From...

Numsa's Irvin Jim: 'At the Centre of a Storm'

Picture: The Real News Network Video Irvin Jim, General Secretary of Numsa, recently toured the U.S. on a speaking tour where he was also interviewed by Paul Jay of the Real News Network. In Part One of an in-depth interview, Jim talks about his early life and how a difficult life as the son of farmworkers in the town of Port Alfred led him to activism as a young teenager. In this fascinating exchange, Jim offers insights into his radicalisation, which included leading the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) where he...

Are Workers Overpaid in South Africa?

Picture: Construction workers in South Africa courtesy Trevor Samson/World Bank/flickr Nicolas Pons-Vignon - Suggesting that workers, meaning those in low-level occupations, are overpaid, has become commonplace in South Africa. It is one facet of a broader line of argument, according to which, workers, especially black workers have been excessively well treated in the post-apartheid dispensation. The other facet of this argument is that this is not just a problem of attitude - one of entitlement justifying laziness, for instance - but also a cause of poverty, since overpaid workers keep others out...

A Real Socialist Party for South Africa?

Picture: Numsa Glen Ford - He strode to the microphone with a sash around his neck, a gap in his front teeth, and a socialist vision for South Africa’s future on his lips. “All over the world, the vast majority continue to languish in poverty,” because of a class of people that “do not produce value, but take for themselves the surplus value that the working class produces,” said Irvin Jim, the 45 year-old general secretary of his nation’s largest union, NUMSA, the National Union...