Report on the South Africa visit by the IG Metall-Youth-Delegation

17.02. - 05.03 2002

The South Africa delegation was composed of 21 persons (6 women and 15 men), who were send by the local youth boards of the administration cost centres of Amberg, Berlin, Braunschweig, Frankfurt, Mittelhessen, Regensburg, Schweinfurt and Würzburg.

Ai of the delegation:

Furthermore we strove for the completion of the interior of the youth centre so that it could be handed over to juveniles. The work has been finished by the delegation as planned and during their stay in South Africa they could already visualise the first activities that had been carried out, which was the inauguration of the centre by several groups (the dancing chorus and theatre group, the choir, the potter group and the kindergarten for street children).

Beside the work on the youth centre, another goal of the delegation was familiarize themselves with the social and political situation of the people in South Africa. The delegation, divided up into two groups, was working alternately on the construction site and attended a visit and information programme with different organisations. As with previous delegations this was organized by the Workers College.

The programme included the following points:

On their first visit to the youth centre, the delegation was welcomed and informed about the status quo of the construction works by its management and the present colleagues of the Workers College again introduced the intended project. Afterwards the delegation visited the Warmers township to receive a first impression of the circumstances in the peripherals of the youth centre.
This township is unique in South Africa as it borders on a „white“ quarter. There are approximately 40.000 people living here, the majority of them are inhabiting self-made corrugated-iron huts.

While the work on the interior started at the building site, the following issues were on the seminar group’s agenda:

  1. Meeting with the Sactwu Staff on the topic of AIDS programms and child-to-child assistance
  2. Visiting of child-to-child programms at school
  3. Visiting three townships in the region

We started by visiting a primary school in Port Elizabeth where the children presented the “Child-to-child Project” and the progress they had made so far. This project is designated to teach the children how to help and support each other. They learn, for instance, about the importance of corporal hygiene, they teach each other and help one another, if there are any problems. If single children get beaten by their parents, the children go to see those parents as a group and take them to task.

Afterwards we informed ourselves about the project “House of Resurrection”, which deals with the handling of the AIDS topic. With the aid of a video tape, we learned about the work of this AIDS project. The major aim lies within the guidance of adults and children who suffer from AIDS as well as in the advice of family members concerning the apropriate care of the sick. Hereafter we visited the nursing home next door.

The next point on the agenda was the visit at a stately independent institution dealing with the payment of maintenance. In case of divorce it is this institution’s concern to support both parties by way of dialogue and, moreover, it offers assistance in questions of maintenance for the children involved.

After this, we went to have a look around two townships and visited Masakhisizwe Memorial in order to remember the hanging of the freedom-fighters of the ANC. The main problem in the townships is that racial segregation still occupies the people’s minds, as the structures have been existing for the last 300 years.
In the coloured township we visited an ANC Polyclinic, which is highly lacking in financial and personal resources. In this clinic they established a program to leave volunteers in charge of the care of sick people.
Afterwards we also visited a self-organised clinic.

Furthermore, we were obliged to visit the Johnson Control Company in Uitenhage, a supplier for VW, accompanied by colleagues of the NUMSA labour union. As we were told by the management, the hourly wage is 15 Rand (3 Euros) and the average working hours are 40 per week. The production plant equals the German standard and the questions of location and globalisation are also equally important as they are in Germany.

Afterwards we visited the “Eros Monument”, which is dedicated to 36 people, who were shooting to death on the 21/03/1985.

There also was a visit of an employment centre, where the manager Mr. Thomson was referring about the endeavours to drop the redundancy, which is extremely high. While in cities the proportion of unemployment is about 40 %, the rate in rural areas is even higher. There, one can find a proportion, which can jump up to 80%. Entrepreneurs fund the programme of cutting the unemployment rate by putting 1% of their sum of salaries into a stock.

Thereafter, we were dealing with South African history.

Another point during our stay in South Africa was a meeting with the Union of Metalworkers NUMSA. The district manager, Sam Malanqein, explained configuration and composition of the union. NUMSA has more than 190000 members and during the last three years the age distribution has changed conspicuously. In former times older people were members in the majority of cases, since there wasn’t any work for young people. This situation changed during the past few months. More and more older workers were getting replaced by a younger generation and the proportion of workers under 25 years has now reached 60%. The membership fee amounts 1% of their monthly income. Union workers representatives are getting elected in companies and some of them are temporarily laid off persons. So far, the union hasn’t built a youth structure but during a discussion with members of the IGM the representatives of NUMSA were very interested in IGM’s activities of young members. In the future, we intend to collaborate in this main focus. In following discussions there was an exchange of ideas about having influence over the Government and contrariwise.

Part of the programme was a visit of the company Delta, which also belongs to the car supply industry. Delta employs 3,500 people in two plants, among them 16 shop-stewards, three of them are temporarily laid-off persons. The average age in plant 1 is 34, in the new plant 2, which is modelled after the Opel factory in Eisenach, people are 27 years old on average. The pieces are mainly produced for the African market. The following discussion was about the reunification of West and East Germany. Talking about the problem of apartheid and its actual consequences we were told that Blacks still earn far less than their white colleagues. In the management positions out of ten persons seven are still white, two are coloured and only one is black.

Furthermore, we visited the Continental Factory. Here, tyres for cars, jeeps and lorries are produced. The shop-stewards told us, that from 1,800 employees 800 are members of the NUMSA. He also informed us, that relatively many Whites are employed by Continental, because Blacks did not have free entry to all professions during the apartheid.

The next item on our agenda was a visit of the umbrella organization COSATU. The colleagues of the board told us about the origins of COSATU and its development until today. It exists of 17 single unions and lacks any youth organizations. Concerning the political influence they explained that they have an alliance with the ANC and the communist party. However, at the moment there are tensions because of the economic policies. The government programme RDP, which favours the employees, was replaced with the neo-liberal programme GEAR. Everything is privatized, even the drinking water. Furthermore, we talked again about experiences of IG Metall’s youth organisations. There, we also showed great interests in an exchange.

A meeting with the ANC Youth League, which is responsible for the division Nelson Mandela Nega Metropol took place. These adolescents of whom some are members of parliament are aged 14 to 35. At the end of our discussion we were give a few points to ponder about: the labour movement has the power to fight hunger and poverty; foreign companies equip the people and the country; a cooperation between Germany and South Africa can be a prerequisite for mutual understanding.
During the whole trip it was obvious that the African colleagues were highly interested in a continuous exchange. The labour unions we talked to are set to think about the build-up of adolescents – structures and are interested in an exchange of IG Metall’s experiences with adolescents. It is important for the black colleagues to see that white adolescents care about their problems and the challenges they face. It was a totally new experience for the adolescents of the brigade to be the minority in a township and to attract attention everywhere. They got a glimpse of how it must fell like to be a member of a minority in Germany. The exchange does a great deal for developing mutual understanding. Both sides judged equally positive that it was possible to manifest the willingness to work together through the building of the youth centre. This centre stands for the German – south African friendship.

Report from the construction site, South Africa Brigade 2002

Week 1
Monday:
first visit of the construction site, assessment of the situation, short visit of the township
Tuesday:
tidied up the site, swept the court, teared down the wooden fence between the shed and the neighbour, dug out groundwork for new wall, screwed off woodpanels from the stageparts
Wednesday:
sand, gravel and stones were delivered, groundwork with concrete, screwed off woodpanels from the stageparts, white ground coat applied to the right shed
Thursday:
began laying bricks for the wall between shed and adjacent building, screwed off woodpanels from the stageparts, painted right shed orange, white ground coat applied to the entrance hall
Friday:
screwed off woodpanels from the stageparts, layed bricks, second coat of paint for the big shed, applied ground coat to front and back of the project
Saturday:
layed bricks, first coat of orange paint for the entrance hall
Week 2
Monday:
second coat of orange paint for the entrance hall, finished the wall, screwed off woodpanels from the stageparts
Tuesday:
moved metal frame front the front of the project to the back, disassembled shelves in the left shed, applied white ground coat to left shed, touch up jobs for the paint on the entrance area, applied white ground coat to the complete outside of the building
Wednesday:
second coat of waterproof paint on the outside, second of paint on the inside of the left shed
Thursday:
painted the back of the building with waterproof paint, unloaded the porcellain furnace, layed floor tiles and sanded them, then first coat of glaze, unloaded furniture
Friday:
screwed and painted half of the floor, began the IGM logo at the front, painted left part of the building on the outside, leveled the soil on the left (weeded grass), fixed shelves in the left shed and restacked them
Saturday:
screwed and painted rest of the floor, continued painting the IGM logo, build fixture for the water meter with concrete, swept and cleaned the construction site
Monday:
put away furniture in the right shed, finished IGM logo, end of brigade