Saturday, October 07, 2006

Why Rand And File Activism

The daily struggles waged by workers against capitalism and dictatorship open their minds to be more conscious about the society in which they live in. But their development is not even, they develop on different paces causing the whole working class to be a multi layered class according to workers political development .In our case in Zimbabwe we have a layer of workers who were directly involved in the successful late 90s ZCTU struggles against the effects of ESAP and have from then been fighting both the effects of neo-liberal ESAP and dictatorship. Most of these are now in powerful political positions and some have just remained factory activists in their unions not necessarily being leaders anywhere. These people are indispensable, as they constitute a very fundamental portion of the working class them as simply potential trade union and political leaders trained and groomed by struggle.
In the current scenario where it has become extremely difficulty for unions to negotiate meaningful wages due to ever-spiraling inflation, ordinary workers and that layer of potential leaders feel that unions are not simply doing enough to protect them. Confronted with an uneven up and down working class mood to fight the Mugabe‘s dictatorship because of the long way and time it have taken workers are prompted to slightly shift that fighting spirit from not just fighting Mugabe only but to their immediate oppressors (bosses) , causing them again to cast a more focused eye on their unions . They begin to see life through their unions only hence the need for proper unions administration..
Workers are beginning to demand their space and full accountability in unions and at several times in many unions they have been at crossroads with union leaderships. Unfortunately these rising workers have not been taken well by their union leaders as they fail to recognize where they are coming from alleging them to be puppets used by ZANU PF to disturb ZCTU affiliates. Some of them are undisputedly puppets of course but some are genuinely products of the past struggles, which trained them to be leaders and therefore feels responsible for building better unions .
The idea of organizing grass roots workers to fight for their involvement in their unions is quite noble as it averts the degeneration of militant trade union leaders into bureaucrats far distanced from their constituencies they are supposed to serve. Ideally rank and file worker organizations should not be formed by disgruntled members but rather are a necessity even under normal circumstances.
They are groups of conscious independent union members to provide guidance or be a watchdog to the union, providing a link between leadership and ordinary workers in factories. They should not in any way serve as a substitute for the union. As socialists we support such groups of workers in as much as they are not forming splinter unions or causing disunity in the ZCTU as the labour mother body as we believe in workers unity.
At the same time we strongly oppose those groups masquerading as genuine rank and file groups representing the interests of workers whilst in reality they are being used by ZANU PF to weaken workers unity realized in ZCTU

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