SAMWU Press Statement
06 November 2012
On Thursday 8th November in the Capital City of Nigeria, Abuja, Municipal and Local Government Unions from all over Africa, will be gathering to launch the African Municipal and Local Government Unions Network (AMALGUN). This is a very important development, of which the South Africa Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) has played and will continue to play a leading role in.
Public sector workers in general and municipal/local government workers in particular are faced with a range of very serious challenges at this time. Despite an unprecedented global crisis of capitalism, which has already plunged millions of people further into poverty, most governments of the world, and especially in Africa, appear to be incapable, or unwilling to break from the neo-liberal economic policies which are the root cause of the crisis.
The neo-liberal economic orthodoxy is based on a number of mistaken assumptions including that the private sector is more effective at providing social services than government, and that governments must abolish their responsibilities by subjecting their services to the market through privatisation and other forms of commercialisation. Furthermore, that selling off state assets and services to the highest bidder will provide Governments with much needed revenue and will also release existing resources to address the needs of those in our communities with the greatest need.
The evidence that has been accumulated all over the world, by our own global union the Public Services International (PSI) has shown this to be completely dishonest. In fact privatisation has resulted in services being catastrophically reduced, of valuable state assets which have taken generations to build being run down, and once proud public services being reduced to a shadow of their former selves. It has resulted in chronic job losses, and terms and conditions of workers being savagely attacked and sacrificed.
The private sector is not driven by the common good; it is driven by the need to extract profit.
Here in Africa we are under serious threat. The multi-national companies that profit from privatisation have exhausted their markets in other parts of the world, and are now targeting Africa. What this will mean is that our people will not be able to access the services they need if they cannot pay up front for it, and it will also mean substantial job cuts as quality public services are sacrificed for profit.
Let’s make no mistake; it is those services that operate at present under local government control that will be targeted for privatisation. Unless we act now, and help each other, many of the services that our members currently provide will be privatised, outsourced, commercialised or corporatized.
In the discussions that we have had already to establish the Municipal and Local Government Unions Network, many good ideas have emerged to describe the activities that we can engage in, and that relate directly to the challenges that we face.
SAMWU wishes the launch of this Network all the success in its deliberations, of which we commit to playing an important role in. The Network has the potential to make us all re-think the ways that we undertake trade union work in each of our countries, and in so doing to strengthen our Unions. It has the potential to transform the thinking of governments in relation to the vital role that democratic local government can play in providing the vital services that our people need in order to maintain a decent standard of living.
For further comment, contact SAMWU’s International Officer Steve Faulkner, on 0828175455.