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Statement by the Anti-Government-in-Exile of Wits University

category southern africa | workplace struggles | press release author Thursday September 08, 2011 16:49author by Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, James Pendlebury, Komnas Poriazis - Anti-Government-in-Exile of Wits University Report this post to the editors

Beginning on Sunday 28 August, Wits students have been littering parts of campus in solidarity with the cleaners’ strike. Cleaners throughout South Africa are demanding a living wage of R4 200 per month: this compares with less than R2 000 paid to cleaners at Wits, who are employed by outsourcing companies such as Supercare. The strike has been undermined, at Wits and elsewhere, by the presence of scab labour; Wits management and the outsourcing companies are striving for “business as usual”. This undermines the entire purpose of the strike, which is to compel exploiter-managers to meet workers’ demands by withdrawing their labour, by preventing the job from getting done – by making sure the campus is not clean.

Statement by the Anti-Government-in-Exile of Wits University

Beginning on Sunday 28 August, Wits students have been littering parts of campus in solidarity with the cleaners’ strike. Cleaners throughout South Africa are demanding a living wage of R4 200 per month: this compares with less than R2 000 paid to cleaners at Wits, who are employed by outsourcing companies such as Supercare. The strike has been undermined, at Wits and elsewhere, by the presence of scab labour; Wits management and the outsourcing companies are striving for “business as usual”. This undermines the entire purpose of the strike, which is to compel exploiter-managers to meet workers’ demands by withdrawing their labour, by preventing the job from getting done – by making sure the campus is not clean.

Striking workers are unable to keep up a picket line or do anything about the scabs because they have been barred from campus. A court interdict has ordered them not to come within 20 metres of any workplace; and their Wits access cards have been blocked for the duration of the strike. This leaves it to Wits students and staff to act in solidarity with the workers. The purpose of Operation Litter is to undermine the scabs and help the strike to achieve its purpose.
On Tuesday 30 August, three students were summoned before Deputy Vice-Chancellor Yunus Ballim on less than two hours’ notice. Ballim was acting under rule 1 of Wits’s Rules for Student Discipline, which allows top management to suspend students if they think we are “guilty of misconduct”. Ballim told us that this rule is designed for emergencies; that he considers us a “threat to the university”; and that what he is doing is what he does when a student appears to be engaged in assault or sexual abuse.

This view of Ballim is, quite simply, an insult to anyone who faces assault or sexual abuse. How can there be any comparison between such crimes and our actions? We have acted in solidarity with strikers to strengthen their resistance. We have harmed nobody, nor in any way threatened the activities of higher learning. Which “university” does Ballim think we threaten? If he regards this nebulous “threat to the university” as somehow similar to sexual abuse, we must worry about his commitment to opposing sexual abuse.

Ballim and his colleagues in top management act like the university belongs to them. They have ordered us, for up to 45 days, to “refrain from entering the precincts of the University … except for the purposes of attending activities strictly and directly related to your academic pursuits”. This is pending full disciplinary action for our alleged “misconduct”. In effect, they have exiled us from the political life of campus, banned us both from attending meetings and from engaging in political actions. They say we are a threat to the university; but we say that, within Wits, the greatest threat to the university as a place of higher learning comes from top management. Consider some of the policies of management since 2000:

  • They cut academic staff as part of restructuring measures, and persistently maintain insufficient numbers of teachers for lecturing, tutorials and supervision.
  • They phase out bridging programmes to help students make the transition from school to university.
  • They encourage academics to orient their research to profitable activities, i.e. to the needs of capital and the rich ruling class.
  • They continually increase fees, closing the doors of learning and culture to poor students, and slam the doors in students’ faces with massive up-front payments that prevent us from even entering the halls in the first place.
  • They impose bureaucratic hurdles to hamper the ability of students and staff to publicise radical views on campus, while readily opening their doors to representatives of the murderous racist state of Israel.
  • By outsourcing cleaners and other workers since 2000, they undermine union organisation and leave these workers far less able to defend themselves.
  • They not only cut in half the wages of the outsourced workers, but deprive their children of the opportunity for free education at Wits.
  • They condone apartheid practices by restricting outsourced (overwhelmingly black) workers to separate entrances, separate eating places and separate toilets, and ban these workers even from holding meetings on campus.
  • In short, they strive to turn higher learning and public discussion into a commodity available to a few, and undermine the universal culture of vigorous debate and progress that has long been part of higher learning at Wits.

Who, then, is a threat to the university, and who are its defenders? We are now exiled from the political life of Wits, but we will be back. We have done nothing wrong, we have harmed no one, we knew the risks, we have no regrets. We remain committed to the struggle of students and workers, and we stand behind our fellow Witsies as they continue their solidarity actions. We remain behind the workers as they carry on the strike, behind the fight to put an end to outsourcing and bring the workers back to Wits – and behind the great battle to take back our university, to make a place of higher learning that belongs not to a few managers and capitalists, but to all who live and work in it.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, James Pendlebury, Komnas Poriazis
Anti-Government-in-Exile

(For video links to some of our actions see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvBxKQwmD5g, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnhQrZalvoM)

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Issue #3 of the Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective

Southern Africa | Workplace struggles | Press Release | en

Thu 02 Oct, 20:31

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textSupport S. African public sector strike 19:56 Wed 20 Jun by Melbourne Anarchist Commounist Group 0 comments

A Melbourne Anarchist Commounist Group Statement in support of South African public sector strike

textOAE – Greece supports the strikers in S.Africa 20:54 Wed 13 Jun by OAE-Greece 0 comments

The Federation of Anarchists of Greece (OAE) is calling for a further action in terms of unity and organisation.

textZACF Statement of Support for Public Sector Strike 18:53 Wed 13 Jun by Jonathan 7 comments

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (southern Africa) supports the public sector strikers, not just in their demand for a wage increase of 12%, which has now been reduced to 10%, but also in their struggle to improve the standard of all public sector services.

textAnti-Privatisation Forum May Day Rally 19:29 Tue 01 May by Dale McKinley 0 comments

The APF will be hosting a May Day Workers Rally in the community of Residensia (Sebokeng – Vaal Triangle) at Tshepo Themba School at 10h00 tomorrow in support of all the working class struggles in the country.

imageAlternative Needed to Nationalisation and Privatisation Feb 28 by Tina Sizovuka and Lucien van der Walt 1 comments

Privatisation – the transfer of functions and industry to the private sector – is widely and correctly rejected on the left and in the working class. Privatisation leads only to higher prices, less and worse jobs, and worse services. Given this, some view nationalisation – the transfer of economic resources (e.g. mines, banks, and factories) to state ownership and control – as a rallying cry for a socialist alternative. This article argues that nationalisation has never removed capitalism, nor led to socialism, and it certainly does not have a demonstrable record of consistently improving wages, jobs, rights and safety. This article appeals to progressive working class forces to look instead to another way:collectivisation from below, where industry is placed under direct workers’ self-management, subject to worker-community participatory democratic planning and control to meet human needs and end oppression, in a universal human community.

imageReaping what you sow: reflections on the Western Cape farm workers strike Feb 09 by Shawn Hattingh 0 comments

The series of strikes and protests that recently took place in and around farms in South Africa’s Western Cape Province was fuelled by the deep-seated anger and frustration that workers feel. On a daily basis, farm workers face not only appalling wages, bad living conditions and precarious work, but also widespread racism, intimidation and humiliation. The extent of the oppressive conditions run deep and it is not uncommon for workers to even be beaten by farm-owners and managers for perceived ‘transgressions’. Indeed, life for workers in the rural areas has always been harsh, but over the last two decades it has in many ways gotten even worse and poverty has in many cases grown.

imageWhat the Marikana Massacre tells us Sep 04 by Shawn Hattingh 0 comments

While any human being with any sense of justice should be appalled by what happened at Marikana it would, however, be a mistake to view it as an isolated incident that emerged out of the blue.

imageCleaning out super-exploitation Sep 14 by James Pendlebury 0 comments

Cleaning workers throughout South Africa have been on strike since Monday 8 August. They are demanding a living wage of R4 200 per month, as well as a 13th cheque and shorter hours.

imageBuild a Better Workers’ Movement: learning from South Africa’s 2010 mass strike Jul 11 by Lucien van der Walt and Ian Bekker 0 comments

The biggest single strike since the 1994 parliamentary transition in South Africa showed the unions’ power. It won some wage gains, but it threw away some precious opportunities. We need to celebrate the strike, while learning some lessons: • the need for more union democracy
• the need to use strikes to link workers and communities
• the need for working class autonomy
• the need to act outside and against the state
• the need to review our positions: against the Tripartite Alliance, for anarcho-syndicalism

more >>

textSupport S. African public sector strike Jun 20 0 comments

A Melbourne Anarchist Commounist Group Statement in support of South African public sector strike

textOAE – Greece supports the strikers in S.Africa Jun 13 Anarkismo 0 comments

The Federation of Anarchists of Greece (OAE) is calling for a further action in terms of unity and organisation.

textZACF Statement of Support for Public Sector Strike Jun 13 Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation 7 comments

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (southern Africa) supports the public sector strikers, not just in their demand for a wage increase of 12%, which has now been reduced to 10%, but also in their struggle to improve the standard of all public sector services.

textAnti-Privatisation Forum May Day Rally May 01 Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) 0 comments

The APF will be hosting a May Day Workers Rally in the community of Residensia (Sebokeng – Vaal Triangle) at Tshepo Themba School at 10h00 tomorrow in support of all the working class struggles in the country.

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