Monthly Archives: March 2016

21st March: Sharpeville Day, also called Human Rights Day

21st March: Sharpeville Day

Also called Human Rights Day

A resource-book for educators 

                                       The ANC and the PAC

 Part 3
PosterOn 1 September 1959, more than six months before the Sharpeville Massacre of 21 March 1960, Walter Sisulu wrote:
“In recent months much has been published in the South African press about the ‘Africanists’ and their attempt to capture the leadership of the African National Congress. The struggle reached a climax at the Transvaal Provincial Conference of the A.N.C., held under the auspices of the National Executive on the 1st and 2nd November, 1958. The Africanists attempted to ‘pack’ the conference, but most of their supporters failed to qualify as delegates. They then tried to break up the conference by force, and, when this attempt was defeated, they withdrew, announcing that they were leaving Congress and intended forming a new organisation.
Sisulu went on to explain that the dispute had begun when a National Workers’ Conference of March, 1958 had resolved to organise a 3-day stayaway against the whites-only general election of April, 1958, and for a demand for a minimum wage of ₤1 per day. Two ANC “Africanists”, Madzunya and Leballo, campaigned publicly against the stayaway, and were expelled from the organisation. The last stand of these sectarian Africanists in the ANC was the meeting of 1-2 November 1958, described above by Walter Sisulu. In April 1959 the PAC was formed.
The ANC held its national conference in December 1959 and decided on action against the pass laws, with the mass burning of passes all over the country on a series of dates, the first of which was to be March 31. The ANC worked steadily towards that target in the ensuing months; whereas it was only at a press conference on March 18, 1960, that Robert Sobukwe announced that the PAC campaign would start on March 21, with a call to the African people to leave their passes at home and surrender themselves for arrest at the nearest police station.
The choice of March 21 was an attempt to pre-empt the ANC. The PAC’s demand for a minimum monthly wage of £35 was an attempt to up-stage the long-standing Congress Alliance demand for £1 a day. The PAC founding conference adopted the ANC anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”, its slogan “Mayibuye” and the colours of its flag (though not the design) as its own. The PAC was in fact a copy-cat organisation, trying to steal the clothes of the ANC. The result in the PAC case was tragic.
The events of Monday, March 21, showed the Pan-Africanists to be a strong force in only two areas – Cape Town and the Sharpeville-Evaton-Vereeniging complex. In all other centres the PAC campaign elicited practically no response. In Johannesburg, Sobukwe’s stronghold, only 200 people surrendered themselves for arrest; in Durban 12, in Port Elizabeth none.
ANC Colours, black, green and gold

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FISE: March 8, International Women’s Day


Women, Workers, Trade Unionists, Mothers of the working class, Teachers.

On behalf of FISE the World Federation of Teachers’ Unions, affiliate member of WFTU, I convey warm militant greetings to all teachers’ women.

FISE put special emphasis on the organization, participation of women in trade unions and on the defense of the women’s rights of all the working class and the popular strata.

We cannot forget that the previous century was the century when the working women’s movement achieved great victories especially in the former Socialist Countries which inspired the women internationally to strengthen their struggles. These achievements positively impacted the developments worldwide.

Today in all corners of the world we find women with upgraded role in the formation of the social developments, in all fields of social life. The women workers play an important role in the labour struggles that take place.

However, the International Capitalist Crisis, the Antipeoples and Antilabour policy being implemented and the imperialist aggressiveness, create conditions of a barbaric attack imposing a huge setback to the labour and popular achievements.

In this framework, the role of the class-oriented trade union movement and the role of the class-oriented working women trade union movement are crucial. Continue reading

The real message of International Women’s Day

Terry Bell writes

Tuesday, March 8, is International Women’s Day (IWD). It comes at a time of ongoing global economic crisis and when we, in South Africa, face further massive job losses, turmoil on the university campuses and in the labour movement.

Perhaps, as never before, has the real message of the founders of IWD been more pertinent — and more likely, at an official level, to be ignored. It is also a message that the labour movement and the protestors of today ignore at their peril.

However on March 8, when the day is celebrated around the world, it will be in a manner that would certainly have appalled the founders of IWD. Because the focus of this day has long been wrested from the labour movement that founded it and it now provides a distorted image of the original IWD intent. Continue reading

WFTU: 8th March 2016 “Recognize Motherhood! Universalize maternity benefit to all women workers”

On the occasion of the International Day of Working Women, the World Federation of Trade Unions honors the heroic struggles of the working women’s movement historically, salutes the working women and the militant women trade unionists worldwide and expresses its solidarity to their everyday struggles for the improvement of their living and working conditions. Continue reading

Aawl mini-news


Palestinian teachers in historic strike

Palestinian teachersAs reported last week, tens of thousands of Palestinian teachers have been on strike and mobilising for better wages and conditions. Most schools in the West Bank have been shut for over two weeks. Importantly, one of the teachers’ demands is for union members to have the right to elect their own representatives and not for the union officials to be appointed by the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority is threatening to force the teachers back to work. Solidarity messages to the Palestinian teachers can be sent here.

Indian auto workers continue to mobilise

The automotive industry has seen a massive expansion over the last decade with hundreds of thousands of new workers being created. As in other countries experiencing this industrialisation boom, the working conditions are characterised by low wages, long days and atrocious OHS standards. Indian workers have fought hard against this exploitation. Even a business mouthpiece like the ‘Economic Times’ has had to acknowledge the widespread labour struggles in this sector. In the last couple of weeks, new actions have been taken by Honda workers in the Gurgaon region and the Tata Motorsworkers in Karnataka.

International Women’s Day

bangladesh-garment-workers-rally_0Last year saw major demonstration and strikes by thousands of automobile workers in the Bursa region of Turkey. Late last month, workers employed by Renault were scheduled to hold elections to elect new union representatives. Renault management not only cancelled these elections at the last moment but also dismissed workers who took action to protest at this attempt to stifle organising. Some workers were then arrested when police moved in to clear picket lines. The workers are continuing with their actions. Continue reading