U.S. and World Politics

South Africa’s NUMSA Solidarizes with Korean General Strike

On December 22, 2013, the right-wing government of Park Geun-hye illegally attacked the offices of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) with 5,000 police and military troops. Claiming the strike was illegal the government later arrested the leaders of the Korean Rail Workers Union (KRWU) for waging a rail strike, the longest in South Korea, to stop the privatization of the railways. 

The South Korean Consulate in San Francisco organized conservative Koreans to disrupt a solidarity demonstration for the KRWU on January 17th, 2014 organized by the Transport Workers’ Solidarity Committee in San Francisco, CA. 

Another rally took place February 25th in front of the Consulate.  Below is a solidarity statement sent to the Transport Workers’ Solidarity Committee demonstration from the militant 350,000-strong National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

—Socialist Viewpoint

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

153 Bree Street

Newtown, Johannesburg 2001

P.O. Box 260483

Excom 2023

Email: or

Tel: 011-689-1700

Fax: 011-834-4320; 011-833-6330

Office of the General Secretary

The Chair

Transport Workers’ Solidarity Committee

4001 7th Street

Oakland, California

February 24, 2014

RE: Solidarity rally with the KCTU General Strike on February 25, 2014 and NUMSA protest action on the false solution on youth unemployment on February 26, 2014 and national strike on March 19, 2014.

Dear Comrades,

We send you warm and militant greetings from 350,000 metalworkers organized under NUMSA. We are very humbled by your solidarity rally at the time workers internationally are battling for organization and policies to take control of their lives.

Our hearts are with the Korean workers as they battle the Park Geun-hye regime against its campaign to annihilate unions in the railways in the preparation of the privatization of these assets. As NUMSA we expect less from our bourgeois state in South Africa as demonstrated during the Marikana massacre that it will stop at nothing to defend capital.

NUMSA Special Congress in December 2013 resolved that we should not be in bed with bourgeois parties or pseudo working class parties that implement neoliberal policies that continue to destroy workers’ jobs, produce inequalities, and deepen poverty, even at the cost of openly murdering workers. We therefore resolve that the union must establish a UNITED FRONT and:

  • That our members and shop stewards must be active on all fronts and in all struggles against neo-liberal policies, whether these policies are being implemented in the workplace or in communities.
  • That in all our constitutional structures, there should be a standing agenda item on community struggles, their nature and NUMSA’s attitude to these community struggles.
  • Side by side with the establishment of the new UNITED FRONT, we in NUMSA must explore the establishment of a MOVEMENT FOR SOCIALISM as the working class needs a political organization committed in its policies and actions to the establishment of a socialist South Africa.

NUMSA will be embarking on protest action on February 26, 2014 and a general strike on the March 19, 2014 in protest against a law that enables the government to subsidize employers for employing young people. The law is similar to rescue packages offered to the banks for causing the 2008 crisis.

This is the first of series of general strikes we will embark upon this year against neoliberal policies enacted by the ANC government since 1994.

We are keenly aware of the pitfalls, difficulties and pains we will endure as we pursue our struggles against neoliberal policies in our country, but with your support and perseverance of our members in factories, mines, working class communities and social movements we are certain that we will turn the tide against the enemy.

It is better to die standing than kneeling down.

Yours sincerely,

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

Jenny Grice

pp Irvin Jim

General Secretary

President, Cedric Gina; 1st Deputy President, Andrew Chirwa; 2nd Deputy President, Christine Olivier; National Treasurer, Mphumzi Maqungo; General Secretary, Irvin Jim; Deputy General Secretary, Karl Cioete