Workers World Media Productions (WWMP)
Workers World Media Productions (WWMP) is an independent media production house working in the interests of the working class. It was established in 1999 in response to the weakened worker and trade union movement, the loss of working class leadership and the attack of neo-liberalism on the working class in post-1994 South Africa.
WWMP emerged out of a collective of labour service organizations, which carried out a pilot radio project in 1997 called Workers World. The three trade union federations, COSATU, FEDUSA and NACTU along with three labour service organisations, Trade Union Library and Education Centre (TULEC), Industrial Health Research Group (IHRG) and the International Labour Resource and Information Group (ILRIG), agreed to participate in the setting up and future control of the project. Workers’ World Media Productions is now an independent, non-profit media production organisation.
Workers World Media Productions is committed to the fundamental principles of the workers’ movement, understood as:
- Unity of workers and working class people
- Organisational and political independence
- Democracy – both in broader society and within organizations.
WWMP believes that it is important that working class people are informed about the issues that affect their lives and to that affect there should be a vibrant and free media, accessible to all, and relevant to the lives of the working class. WWMP believes that these aims are currently undermined by commercial ownership and control of much of South Africa’s media.
WWMP understands the purpose of its education work as deeply political. Education aims to assist in rebuilding a strong workers and trade union movement; in building self-organisation of the masses in order to defend the working class against neo-liberal attacks and to advance the interests of the working class.
WWMP works in about 40 working class communities across South Africa, such as Khayelitsha and Alexandra. WWMP has also spread its work to African countries, such as Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Botswana, Swaziland, Tanzania, Egypt and Tunisia.
WWMP runs a number of projects, including:
The Labour Community Radio Project (LCRP)
Together with community radio stations, WWMP produces weekly one-hour labour shows in community radio stations across South Africa. Themes of the radio shows focus on issues relevant to working class communities, including marginalized workers. They include: gender and women’s oppression; trade unions and politics; and racial and xenophobic discrimination. Presenters for the radio shows are drawn from the labour movement and communities where the radio stations are based. WWMP does educational work to build people’s capacities to produce their own radio programmes, partnering with COSATU and community groups.
Labour Community Advice, Media and Education Centres (LAMEC)
The LCRP led to the setting up of Labour Community Advice, Media and Education Centres (LAMEC) in 2011, which involves more focused, consistent work with a few communities.
LAMECs are an attempt to increase the ownership and control of projects and to provide continuous, long-term Institutional support. LAMECs encourage workers, unions, youth formations and activists to organise in the workplace and community.
The LAMECs focus on (i) media; (ii) organisation building/organising; and (iii) mass education. LAMECs provide labour rights advice and education to workers, especially casualised vulnerable workers, youth and the community. LAMECs organise educational activities such as basic shop stewards training, workshops, public seminars, film screenings and study circles.
The Mass Education Campaign
WWMP partnered with COSATU and several community and labour service organisations in 2010 to develop the Mass Education Campaign (MEC). The campaign aims to undertake mass political education to rebuild and deepen working class politics and organisation on the ground.
Other WWMP projects include:
- Diggz Youth Media and Leadership Project
- The Africa Labour Radio Project
- Labour TV Shows
WWMP’s approach is rooted in the tradition of worker education in South Africa and also draws on Freires principles of active participation, dialogical learning and recognition of the value of experiences of ordinary people. Education is not confined to the classroom/workshop setting but can happen anywhere. Learning should lead to action: by equipping people with the means and ideas to direct their own organizations and lives, in other words, to develop collective agency WWMP makes a strong connection between education and action for change .
Worker education is understood by WWMP as deeply political education, which places the working class at the centre, respects the knowledge and experiences of the working class, and promotes working class identity, interests and struggle. It stands in contrast to trade union legalistic education and education to impart ‘expert’ knowledge.
WWMP has a combined approach of mass education and information dissemination (through publications, radio, TV etc.) as well as more concentrated work with smaller collectives to develop and deepen working class politics and media and leadership capacities.
Working class people themselves are involved in all education processes so as to enable people direct their own education and build working class ownership and control of projects.
Tools and processes
WWMP employs a rang of diverse tools including:
- mass education, mainly through radio and TV
- popular publications
- advice centres
- public forums
- study circles
- film screenings to stimulate discussions.
Understanding of popular education
WWMP’s understanding of popular education is much more than just a methodology, it is mass education grounded in class struggle that advances the interests of the working class: “Once it [popular education] gets removed from class struggle it loses all its soul. Then there’s no substance to it other than careerism – promoting individuals careers”.