The world and South Africa are experiencing a historic crisis. One of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is an economic and employment crisis. The economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented employment crisis with an unemployment rate in South Africa of over 50%. Apart from the unemployment rate that reached record highs, millions have only received only part of their salary.
People are suffering and are insecure. The virus, and the government’s reckless regulations hit everyone, white and black. However, the government decided that help from the government would not be given to white people. What people look like – and not how much they suffer – determines the assistance they get. Thousands of people, white and black alike, will lose their income and their jobs because of this racial decision. The courts ratified it – first it only applied to tourism and then also to small businesses.
This decision of the government caused a major breach of trust between Solidarity’s members and their community on the one hand, and the government on the other.
On the one hand this racial decision, taken in the midst of a crisis, angers one. On the other, it is liberating. We cannot rely on the government for a future of work, but we cannot be dependent on the government either. We don’t have to wait upon the government for a future – we will take the responsibility and build a future ourselves.
To be able to take responsibility for ourselves, we need the power that comes from being there for one another. In a crisis such as this it is time for an act of solidarity in the true sense of the word. We have to stand together like never before. If the government kicks us out, the community must kick in.
The reality of the economic and jobs crisis caused by Covid-19, and the realisation that we have to do things ourselves, made Solidarity realise that a major Solidarity Work Recovery Programme, one in which we help each other to work at full force again, was called for.
Solidarity has been in the business of work for the past 118 years, its core business being to come up with answers in a crisis. In view of this, Solidarity is going to roll out the largest work recovery programme in its 118-year history over the next 18 months. The aim of the Work Recovery Programme is to prepare Solidarity members and young people for the future in the new world.
Solidarity is going to reallocate a budget of millions of rands and has approved a special work recovery budget. Other institutions within the larger Solidarity Network of Work will mobilise hundreds of millions of rands in new funding.
For the past 20 years, Solidarity has been transformed into a huge network to enable people to work. By building the Solidarity Network of Work, Solidarity has been preparing for a crisis without us being aware of the crisis that was to come in the shape of Covid-19.
Solidarity is now bigger and stronger than ever in its history and more ready than ever before to tackle the Covid-19 crisis head-on together with its members.
Solidarity members have a legacy of good work ethics, creativity, diligence and a resilience to meet the challenge of any crisis. Solidarity is merely the wind under the wings of its members so that they themselves can soar high again. Solidarity members believe it is right to work, they are ready to work and it is their right to work.
Solidarity members can bounce back. They distinguish themselves by their achievement despite setbacks. Lately, the government’s race ideology pushed them out, but they just pushed on. They are the heroes of the workplace, the ones who keep the lights on, who create economic opportunity, do the work of three people, provide services, work underground, are specialised tradespeople and teachers who excel in the classroom, they make the administrative wheels turn, they heal people and fight for justice in the courts, to mention but a few examples.
Those are the traits typical of Solidarity members that will lead to work recovery.
Community is at the heart of the Solidarity Work Recovery Programme. The government let us down. Most people understood the need for the first three weeks of lockdown. The war against the virus was necessary. But then the war turned to the people. Absurd regulations issued by a command council robbed people of their freedom. Through central planning, the protracted lockdown period and illogical regulations war was also waged against the economy. This led to food shortages and then the government wanted to regulate the supply of food and food aid to boot.
Then, in a time of need, the government decided that aid would be regulated on the basis of race. If we cannot rely on the government in a crisis such as this, we would never be able to do so. As part of the Work Recovery Programme Solidarity will lodge a complaint with the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The support of hundreds of thousands of people will be mobilised for this complaint. This complaint dovetails with the broader Solidarity Movement’s international campaign to mobilise foreign support against the government’s racial practices. Solidarity will also raise funds internationally to support the Work Recovery Programme.
Our solution for work recovery does not lie with the government but with each other. It does not cause anxiety but sets free. Now is the time for each other and for standing together in a big way. We must enable each other to work. Solidarity can facilitate work recovery, but the answer lies in a major community effort. We will do business with each other, mentor each other’s children, provide study assistance and jobs. The underlying slogan we will all subscribe to is: Each one helps one other. This programme is going to be a massive programme of mutual aid because we want to, and we can.
The Solidarity Work Recovery Programme is not going to create jobs for its members. The programme will merely enable our great members to restore work themselves and to advance in their jobs. We are not taking anyone’s responsibility away; we are helping people to take up their responsibility.
The recovery programme will rely heavily on the power of new technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that offers answers to questions which, previously, had no answers. The innovation of the new economic revolution, the power of the community and the resilience of young people provide a powerful recipe that is fundamental to a recovery of work.
The Solidarity Work Recovery Programme rests on three pillars: work, wellness and education.
Special support will be given for the retention of jobs in the workplace. The government’s racial ideology will be tackled all the way to the Unite Nations. A large network of guilds will cooperate on a mutual basis. A huge platform will be created. On this platform, guild members will be able to help each other, jobs will be sought and offered, and internships and mentorships for young people will be facilitated.
A special wellness barometer will help members to determine their own state of wellness. Members will receive social support. No Solidarity member should go hungry. Programmes focusing on personal finance will be offered. Full information on Covid-19 will be available. Members will be able to use a symptom detector online and will have access to doctors for virtual consultations that could help them determine whether or not they have Covid-19. Three years’ membership fees will accrue to members in the form of training credits. Members’ children will have free access to the Solidarity Support Centre for Schools’ Wolkskool (a Cloud school). Akademia will introduce a new campus-based model. Sol-Tech will move to a new campus and will double its capacity in the process. The property development company, Kanton, which was born out of Solidarity, will be responsible for the development of these properties. Study aid worth more than R40 million will be offered to young people. S-leer’s online learning offer will be expanded, and members will be able to study free of charge through S-leer thanks to the training credits that will accrue to them.
The Solidarity Work Recovery Programme is a huge response to the Covid-19 crisis but also to the government’s hardline racial approach. The Work Recovery Programme sends out a clear message: We will fight the virus fearlessly, and we will fight undauntedly for the economy and jobs. We are going nowhere. We are going to participate in the economy proactively for the benefit of the South African economy in its entirety and for that we do not need the government’s permission.