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South Africa:

Fired Manganese Miners Welcome ICWP

We reported on the Port Elizabeth harbour workers’ strike in April. Little did we know that five months later we would be meeting these twenty-eight Transnet workers. They are reported to have lost the battle with the employer at the court. They have been meeting every Sunday for six months, waiting for updates from the Numsa organiser who is reportedly in Johannesburg.

Today we met manganese workers from Transnet South Africa. We introduced ourselves and told the workers about the ICWP and communist revolution. They were very happy to receive copies of many issues of Red Flag, and promised to read and write for it. They were very excited to learn about our party and what it stands for: revolution not reforms.

Manganese is a deadly substance that has taken lives and hospitalized many of their co-workers. These workers work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day and are paid R500 (US$46) a week. They are exploited beyond measure because they are dying working under these conditions and they have been under employment agencies for 12 years and they are still casual workers. 

When they hire you at the harbour, they run tests, subject you to all the stringent requirements, checks, etcetera. They then send you underground to dig the manganese in the Port Elizabeth harbour. You have to go deep down into the belly of the earth. After years of digging manganese, they test you again.  If they find too many traces of manganese in your body, you are likely to lose your job. The horrors they shared with us were unbelievable.

These workers went on strike in April along with their permanent co-workers. They received a letter confirming that the strike was legal, but later on they were fired and only permanent workers were allowed back. The company told the agency workers that the strike was illegal.

Now these workers are asking the employer, “If you say the strike is illegal then why fire only us?  We all participated in the strike. This is unfair, discriminatory and cruel labour practice.” They complained to the employment agency, which said they no longer belong to them, that they no longer employ for Transnet SA.

Transnet told the workers that they are on their own. They were requested by the union to join and signed up but now the union says it fights for permanent workers only.

These workers are being victimised beyond explanation and now they are unemployed. Their families and children who depend on them are in great poverty.

We ended the meeting on a very high note, that of having our own ICWP meetings with these workers going forward.

Earlier we were in a meeting of Scribante construction workers in the same place as the Transnet workers.  We noticed that they also work under unfair conditions, discrimination, victimization, exploitation and minimum wage.

All workers share similar problems.  All these bosses and owners are the same. The survival of their companies depends on these workers they exploit, discriminate against, mistreat and abuse.

We are eagerly waiting for your planned visit.  As a collective we are overcoming our fear and weaknesses because there is no solution but communist revolution.

Letters from South Africa


Garment Workers Build Red Flag Networks

“They’re from Red Flag, my friend,” one worker answered another, while showing her the leaflet and our newspaper, when the first worker asked, “Who are those folks?”

About 2300 men and women work in these factories every day. Recently, ICWP comrades distributed 250 Red Flags and 200 leaflets as workers were leaving the factory after a day’s work.

A flyer was written that showed the need to fight for communism and how we workers don’t need the bosses. The following is part of the leaflet:

We get up early in the morning tired and sleepy, we take one or up to three buses to get to work; while the bosses arrive comfortably at the factory in their luxury cars. At the door they search us as if we were criminals, while the boss, who steals the profits from our labor, walks in calmly. It is we who are producing and building everything, from the factory itself to dozens of shirts and pants that are produced in each shift, so why does the boss get millions while we barely survive day by day? Why? What is he without us? NOTHING!

We don’t need the bosses!

We build the factory, we bring the raw material, use the machines, sew, pack and transport everything! We men and women workers do it all! The boss and his money produce nothing, we don’t need them; they need us!

The boss must fear Communism!

There is a world to build. A world where the  exploitation which they subject us to today doesn’t exist, a world in which we produce only what we need and not to sell and make a few people rich, a world where we all work together for everyone.

For years, they have wanted to terrorize us with the word “Communism.” They want us to think that it is something bad. IT’S SOMETHING BAD FOR THE BOSSES!”

Together with the leaflet, we took Red Flag, as our main tool to mobilize the masses for communism. Our literature was well received. A young worker took the paper, returned, and made a donation. He said “This is so that you can keep distributing it.” This shows that asking for donations should be part of the political struggle to build the party.

The communist comrades in the factory came out to support us; giving us some security and more motivation to carry out this great work that must be constant. In the surrounding streets you could observe many workers concentrated reading the leaflet and the newspaper.

These activities help the comrades who are inside the factories to build Red Flag networks and mobilize the workers for communism. Our line has to reach the masses. That’s how the workers will learn about our party and about how to fight for communism.

During the activity, a worker said to a comrade, “I saw that some workers had a leaflet and a newspaper, so I read it. It’s great! I want us to write a leaflet about the things that happen inside the factory where we work.” 

After distributing our literature, we met with our comrades from the maquillas about their activities, schedules and future meetings.  A comrade told us that we can meet in his house, since we have these meetings whenever we can. We read the newspaper. There are some things that we don’t understand, but we talk about them among all of us.

Self-critically, we must distribute leaflets and Red Flag more consistently. These activities must and will be constant. Bringing communist ideas to workers is the work of all the members of the party in whatever part of the world we find ourselves. In this way, we are building communism. Each newspaper in the hands of a worker is another step towards communist revolution.


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