Today, on the 24th of February the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has called for a general strike and stay away in the lead up to finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech. 350Africa.org supports the strike, calling for fairer working conditions and a more worker-centric economy. There can be no climate justice without a more just society.
We know that the fight for climate justice is also a fight to tackle corruption, inequality and poverty. South Africa is one of the world’s most polluting & unequal economies – built on the twin foundations of exploiting people and the planet. The climate crisis is making inequality and poverty worse, with studies showing it has already made South Africa more unequal and up to 20% poorer. Climate change has gravely deepened existing problems such as lack of access to food, water, and energy.
Central to SAFTU’s demands for the 24th of February strike are calls for a Green New Deal and a Just Transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Those working for social justice on the ground understand that a fossil fuel based economy will pollute people’s lungs and lives, will enrich a few, and is intrinsically prone to corruption.
Massive investment in socially owned renewable energy will democratise South Africa’s energy, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and fight climate change at the same time. These “green” demands will reinforce the other demands for an egalitarian society and better working conditions.
The climate crisis has deepened inequality and poverty. However, we also know that much of the plight of our people has been driven by a lack of delivery from our government and a failure to transform the deeply unequal foundations upon which South Africa was built. Thus, as part of our fight for climate justice, we also stand in solidarity with trade unions and take up the struggle to overhaul the systems that are driving deepening social, economic and environmental injustice.
Our work with the Climate Justice Coalition will continue to put labour and social justice at the heart of our work for climate justice. We encourage and welcome all federations and their members to join us more actively in our struggle for climate justice. We know that it will take all of us fighting together to overcome the entrenched powers holding us back from a more socially and ecologically just future.