“WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE, BUT YOUR CHAINS”: Karl Marx.
The two militant unions, National Union of Metalworkers Union of South Africa and United Autoworkers Workers (USA), are gathered here today, inspired by the famous communist slogan, joined by a famous actor and anti-apartheid activist to declare the following:
Workers of NISSAN UNITE, you have nothing to lose but your chains.
As National Office Bearers of NUMSA, on behalf of 320 000 members including workers of NISSAN, Rosslyn plant, we feel the pain of Mississippi Nissan workers who are brutalised by this Japanese multinational corporation. We are excited that President Bob King of UAW, joined by the famous anti-apartheid activists and actor, Cde Danny Glover, has embarked on this important campaign of building solidarity between Rosslyn and Mississippi Nissan workers under the umbrella of our global union, IndustriAll.
NUMSA and UAW have a proud history. NUMSA and other US affiliates of IndustriAll have a proud history. For us this campaign reminds us that during the struggle against apartheid and the struggle for union recognition in our country, you were with us in the trenches. What we have achieved can be attributed to many sacrifices that were done by ordinary metalworkers in many US workplaces organised by UAW. This is what former President of NUMSA said about your contribution to the Release Moses Mayekiso campaign, our first General Secretary who was elected whilst in prison in 1987; “This Mayekiso case was publicised in America. And I was present at one stage in Canada, where this was discussed at an international forum. And I even took part in a march in the United States, where the UAW in the States was sensitising the American community about the evils of apartheid.”[v]
In the next few days of meeting workers and ordinary South Africans, you will hear for yourselves that the freedom that you helped us to achieve in 1994 has not translated into economic freedom. Capitalist greed from multinationals like NISSAN has used stability that came with the 1994 democratic breakthrough to amass profits for their shareholders elsewhere in the world.
Your visit here to get solidarity is a demonstration that capitalist beneficiaries have become countries like Japan. The clarion call by Karl Marx must be heeded by workers of the world. We must unite across the continents and break the barriers of the Cold War era.
Our National Executive Committee that met from 22 -24 May 2013 has instructed us to give maximum support to this important international campaign. The words of the American trade
unionist and socialist, Cde Eugene Debs that he used after working for two years without receiving a salary in building The American Railway Union in 1893 must guide us;
“I do this because it pleases me, and there is nothing I would not do, so far as human effort goes, to advance any movement designed to reach and rescue perishing humanity. I have a heart for others and that is why I am in this work. When I see suffering about me, I myself suffer, and so when I put forth my efforts to relieve others, I am simply working for myself. I do not consider that I have made any sacrifice whatever; no man does, unless he violates his conscience.”
President Bob King, Cde Danny Glover, and Cde Irvin Jim: This must please us; we must do everything humanely possible to advance the struggles of Nissan workers in that Mississippi plant.
We must have a heart for those workers. We must never violate our conscience.
We must not forget NISSAN workers in Rosslyn who are current brutalised by managers from Britain under the pretext of making the South African plant to work like the so called best performing British plant in the UK.
We stand ready, as South African metalworkers and workers at large, to join hands with our UAW brothers in this global campaign against this Japanese multinational, NISSAN. We appreciate the role that is played by Cde Danny Glover in this campaign and call upon our own actors in our country to take the right side, the side of the workers and the side of the poor, the side of the working class for it is the only class that shall not vacillate.
Viva International Solidarity Viva!