1 May 2010
In South Africa, May Day 2010 is being celebrated just 42 days before the kick-off of the long-awaited African FIFA World Cup. In India, May Day 2010 is being celebrated 6 months in advance of the Commonwealth Games which will take place in Delhi in October. What do the workers (formal and informal) of Africa and India have to celebrate on 1 May Day 2010 as these events approach?
Between May Day 2009 and May Day 2010, a powerful working class alliance of organised trade unions and informal workers in organisations like street vendors’ organisations, social movements organising informal farmers and fisherpeople, shack-dwellers and other working class community organisations, succeeded in protecting the work and livelihoods of 7000 – 10 000 informal traders, the great majority of whom are women, in the Warwick Market precinct in central Durban, by standing together and resisting the demolition of the markets in the precinct to make way for another capitalist retail Mall which the eThekwini Municipality wanted private property developers to build before the arrival of tourists and football fans for the FIFA World Cup in June/July 2010. This working class alliance of formal and informal workers came together in April 2009 as Campaign Partners of the WCCA campaign led by StreetNet International.
The process of preparation for the FIFA World Cup and the Delhi Commonwealth Games has exposed StreetNet and our WCCA campaign partners directly to the greedy face of globalised capital. The last four years of deal-making between FIFA and its capitalist allies with the local private sector, politicians and government officials (starting around 2005 but now rapidly accelerating) has excluded workers and informal traders from most of the widely-advertised benefits which have been promised to ordinary South Africans, other Africans and Indians. Instead, these mega-events have provided opportunities to the already wealthy capitalist class to grasp even greater profits while turning a blind eye to social justice – taking advantage of the football frenzy to deflect attention away from effective monitoring of labour standards and observance of the human rights of the most vulnerable social groups, many of them women and migrant communities.
Only militantly organised workers have been able to secure a small slice of these profits. The “Decent Work towards 2010” campaign of the building Workers’ International (BWI) saw the direct intervention of FIFA officials in collective negotiations for wages and working conditions of construction workers in South Africa – to avoid public embarrassment and unfinished stadiums and transport infrastructure. This secured higher wages for construction workers than the employers were planning to pay. Other workers have waged more low-key struggles against FIFA and its capitalist allies – these are the struggles we want to recognise on this May Day 2010.
The National Alliance of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) will be staging May Day rallies all across India, calling on the authorities in all Indian States to celebrate May Day by applying and implementing the National Street Vendors Policy adopted by the national government on 20 January 2004.
One of the WCCA Campaign partners, the South African Communist Party, has launched a timely campaign against corruption which will see workers take to the streets on the 30th April on the eve of May Day 2010. The struggle for World Class Cities for All will only achieve social justice if the cancer of corruption is rooted out – both in the public and the private sector, as well as in our midst.
Further, we will only see a genuine African FIFA World Cup – as promised to the rest of Africa by the South African government – in a xenophobia-free South Africa. On the eve of Freedom Day, the apartment of the Deputy Chairperson of the Siyagunda Association, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo and informal worker whose organisation is a WCCA campaign partner, was attacked and set alight. Police were extremely slow to react, in one more example of the lack of political will of the South African authorities to ensure a xenophobia-free environment for the FIFA World Cup.
The working class alliance of WCCA campaign partners calls upon the South African authorities on the eve of the FIFA World Cup, and Indian authorities as the Commonwealth Games approach, to:-
- engage in negotiation and dialogue to ensure genuine inclusion of all workers (formal and informal) and working class communities in all the promised benefits of the FIFA World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi;
- eradicate all forms of corruption;
- ensure a xenophobia-free environment – and an extra-special welcome for all Africans to enjoy and benefit from the promised African FIFA World Cup;
- adopt and implement the inclusive provisions of the Street Vendors’ Policy in all states of India.
Issued by Pat Horn, StreetNet International Co-ordinator