We identified serious capacity issues among trade union and community activists, and decided to embark on a mass education programme, covering everything from basic shop steward training, political education through to paralegal support and media development. During 2010 we partnered with Cosatu’s national education desk and launched the campaign at a national conference attended by over 200 representatives (see Declaration of the Mass Education Conference held during 13–16 April 2010).

The education campaign has many facets and is delivered in different ways as outlined below, primarily via Labour-Community Media  Forums (LCMF’s) and Cosatu Locals at community level. Unfortunately Cosatu’s participation in the campaign has been inconsistent, weakening the achievement of our goals. Nevertheless we have persevered and have had good co-operation from unions at regional and local level.

During the week the week of 13 – 16 April 2010, we, over 200 delegates from trade unions, labour service organisations and community organisations met in Johannesburg to assess the momentum of class struggle in order to initiate and plan a strong mass education campaign whose primary aim is to raise class consciousness and develop alternative forms of knowledge and struggle in order to build working class power.

Our Conference Aims were:

  • To develop and enskill local groups of labour and community media and education practitioners in approximately 40 communities to regularly produce and disseminate education.
  • To provide organisational and resource support to local working class communities’ mass education initiatives.
  • To develop a dynamic and sustainable local organisational base for labour education and media activities.
  • To develop a popular publication on mass education.

The campaign and the conference was a strategic response by COSATU and WWMP to the increasing levels of exploitation, widespread poverty and oppression evident in the harsh reality demonstrated by the following indicators:

  • Over 50% of our people living in poverty
  • Over 40% unemployed with 1 million jobs lost in just one year
  • South Africa is the most unequal society in the world.
  • Over 1 million farm-dwellers evicted (1994 – 2004)

These indicators are demonstrative of the fact that the fault lines of the apartheid political economy remain largely intact, with the current growth path reproducing these fault lines. In economic terms, workers and the poor have little to celebrate.

The apartheid economy was characterised by massive inequalities and uneven development across industries and regions. There are five basic fault-lines that this economy has created:

  • Inequalities in education quality and access,
  • Inequalities in health quality and access,
  • Inequalities in the provision of housing,
  • High, racial- and gender-structured unemployment, and
  • Deepening income and wealth inequalities.

The conference self-critically acknowledged that:

  • While much has been done, we have not done near enough to confront the challenges resulting from capitalism and the legacy of apartheid, particularly as regards raising and deepening class consciousness.
  • In serving the interests of working class communities we must deepen a profound and radical agenda for revolutionary transformation.
  • We have been weakened politically and organisationally to resist attacks upon the working class resulting in a serious decline in working class living standards.
  • We have not been able to effectively enhance the unity of the working class, including our organisational responses.

We are not only confronted by “Organise or Starve” but “Organise or Die” as our average life expectancy has declined to 47 years (from 62 years in 1990).

Our biggest obstacle is the capitalist system and those who uphold it in the interests of the rich minority. Despite the fact that our hard-won democracy has created possibilities for change in the living and working conditions of the majority, it is evident that in many respects it has failed the working class and the poor.

Our response, led and supported by COSATU and WWMP, is to develop “A Mass Education Campaign” to assist in re-building us politically and organisationally on the ground, in communities and workplaces. In this regard we acknowledge and accept that the content of our mass education must be agitational and that it must challenge the capitalist system, strengthen existing revolutionary and working class formations, build such organisations where there are none, in order to assert working class hegemony and build alternative working class power in the process of struggle. Our mass education campaign and struggle activities are guided by our universal principles for the widest working class unity, political and class independence and the fullest possible democracy. This includes building international solidarity – in particular with our comrades from Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Palestine.

We therefore resolve to commit ourselves to vigorously, tirelessly and energetically implement our programme of action as agreed at this conference. We also agree to reconvene at a national mass education forum in 2012 to assess and further advance our campaign and struggle.

The powerful words of Haroon Aziz will be our inspiration moving forward:

When a scientific knowledge of revolution is placed, through the patient and painful process of conscious struggle , in the hands of the people it becomes a powerful weapon of the revolution – the primary weapon which is necessary for the creation of a just order out of a relative chaos of an unjust political and social system. Without that knowledge, the people are as helpless as soldiers are without weapons. With it the people become the skilful soldiers of the revolution.

Agreed and adopted unanimously on Friday 16 April 2010 at the conference held at the Birchwood Hotel, Boksburg.

In 2006, WWMP was part of a pioneering group that initiated the development and launch of Cape Town TV in 2008. Since then we have been an important stakeholder and was party to developing what is probably the first and only regular weekly labour TV show on the continent and probably the only regular weekly broadcasted labour TV show in the world. CTV now has an additional channel on digital TV as part of the DSTV network as Channel 263. This has increased its viewership to over 2 million monthly viewers. Potentially the labour TV show on the DSTV network makes the show available to six million people across sub-Saharan Africa.

Every year we produce and broadcast two 13-week seasons that started as a 30-minute show that has evolved into a full hour. The quality of the shows has been excellent: well-produced and professional. We are working hard to ensure that it continues to improve in quality and also in representation, by increasing the number of women participants.

This project is essentially the expansion of our project work into the rest of Africa as a solidarity effort and includes partnerships with trade union federations of 10 participating countries. So far, we have had our radio shows broadcast by SABC Channel Africa, as well as by public broadcasters in Uganda, Ghana, Zambia and Malawi. This has gone well, particularly in Uganda, where there has been a substantial buy-in at leadership level. However, it is difficult for us to support, due to our limited organisational and financial resources. We are working with ITUC-Africa to take over responsibility for running the project from their offices in Lome’, Togo.

The aim of the project is to build the media capacity of the trade union movement on the continent and in each country, primarily through weekly labour radio shows for conscientising workers and the public and supporting their organising work. 

Since our inception, the main focus of our work has been on radio, because this is still the best way to reach working class people in Africa. While the internet has transformed labour movement communications in the developed world, internet penetration in Africa remains low.

This is changing with the increasing use of smart phones, and we have begun to provide training for trade unionists in using new technology, but radio is still by far the most accessible and democratic medium.

Our flagship project has been in labour and community media: we have developed relationships with community and public radio stations across South Africa (and more recently across the continent), and trained presenters in delivering labour shows. We produce and pre-record radio news and a documentary feature in five different languages. This is played on around forty community radio stations around South Africa, and is then followed by a trade union phone in talk show. This ensures that labour and working class issues are aired across the country, and that ordinary workers can take part in the debates and ensure that their voices are heard. By producing shows in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho we are also able to ensure workers can participate in their own language. During 2006 we changed our name from Workers’ World Radio Productions to Media productions to express the shift to multi-media work.


Southern Africa Worker Educator's Network

Labour Community Media Forums

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“To have an informed, organised and mobilised working class acting in its own interests.”



“To provide quality, relevant and informative media productions, access to the media and education and training for the labour movement and working class people.”

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