by Leroy Maisiri (ZACF)
First published in “South African Labour Bulletin”, volume 40, number 4, pp. 39-40
Recent worker-student alliances and activities are lacking in an anarchist/syndicalist approach which focuses on ‘people’s power’ and ‘worker control’. Such an approach is important for radical transformation, writes Leroy Maisiri.
by Pitso Mompe (ZACF)
Trade unions have played a major role in defending workers’ rights against the bosses and politicians, also in advancing workers’ interests. This is why, even today, workers are still loyal to their unions. However, there are obstacles within the unions – one being the union bureaucracy, of paid and full-time officials. This can develop its own interests, undermining the unions.
This is a challenge faced by many unions. This bureaucracy is at times unable to represent workers’ grievances effectively: they often spend more time fighting amongst themselves for certain positions within the union instead of for workers’ rights. Due to this bureaucracy, which is structured hierarchically, higher positions hold more power, including in terms of decision-making. Those in leadership are often full-time and recieve much higher salaries than those of the workers they represent. This means they often want to prevent union actions that threaten their own positions, like long strikes.