3 IMCWP, Contribution of Sudanese Communist Party

6/22/01 12:58 PM
  • Sudan, Sudanese Communist Party 3rd IMCWP En Africa Communist and workers' parties

Sudanese Communist Party

The struggle of the Sudanese workers for their rights is
manifold. It has passed through different stages. Always
the working class was remains to be in the battle to wrench
its rights and contribute to the national efforts for
democracy, progress, social justice and the advancement of
the Sudan.

Before independence, and during the thirties of the last
century, the emerging Sudanese working class was assisted
in its struggles by the presence and influence of the civil
servants, skilled workers and technicians from Britain,
Greece, Armenia and Italy who were to this or that extent
influenced by the October Revolution in Russia. These
foreign workers helped the Sudanese working class organise
itself in front of the British Administration and its
efforts to abort the organised working class struggles.

Because of its early belief in itself and with the
assistance both of national and foreign intellectuals, the
emerging working class organised what was called at the
time �Workers Club�. The clubs were class gained in stature
both social and cultural and strengthened its class,
professional and sectorial solidarity.

The Graduates Club of the Industrial School affiliated to
the Sudan Railways played a major role in the emergence and
the establishment of the organised Sudanese trade union
movement during 1941-46. Because of their education they
played a major role in the struggle of the rail workers.
This became the more important since the Sudan Railways was
the main employer, majority of the workers were stationed
in Atbara - known as the workers town - and because of the
vital role played by the railways in the Sudanese economy -
all these elements contributed to the importance of the
role played by the railways workers int he struggle of the
Sudanese working class.

The graduates of the industrial schools were skilled
workers, with a good grasp of English language which helped
them to communicate with foreign workers, increase their
knowledge through acquainting themseves with international
working class literature, especially the British one.
Furthermore, these graduates were influenced by the
emerging Sudanese Movement for National Liberation - later
on the Sudanese Communist Party - which was established in
1946. A number of the leaders of this graduates club joined
he new party at the time. This was the fist contact and
connection between the Sudanese communists and the
organised leadership of the working class.

This step was to the benefit of both young organisation,
while it helped the organised working class to deepen its
class and national awareness, it assisted the young Party
with the strengthening of its leadership with working class
cadres. The influence of the Party, and its cadres, who
were playing the major role in the leadership of the
movement, was evident in providing a strong bond between
the working class and the patriotic movement for

During the forties, the young communists were responsible
for introducing new militancy to the working class
struggles. Their knowledge of organisational and
propagandistic work helped to strengthen the unity of the
workers. This new element was reflected among other things
- Freedom of association as an important step to achieve
workers demands;
- Defence of trade union independence against any
governmental or party influence. This resulted in the early
rejection of the workers to the British proposal for �joint
committees of workers and employers representatives�;
- Right of workers to join a trade union of their own
independent choice;
- Developing methods and means of struggle which were
appropriate to reach workers demands, especially imposing
negotiations with the employers, backed by the unity of the
workers and the weapon of strike.


The Role of the Pioneer Communist trade Unionist (1948-52)
Those trade unionists who were members of the Sudanese
Communist Party played a considerable role in the
establishment of the Sudanese trade union movement. Their
contribution was decisive in making concrete gains to the
workers. They led by example and gained the respect and the
confidence of the workers.

They played a pivotal role in gaining the rights of workers
and their unions in participating in decision-making bodies
which dealt with industrial relations, especially workers
legislation. As a result, the struggle of the Sudanese
workers and the contribution of the pioneer communist trade
unionists, new legislation was introduced as early as 1948.
This dealt with the right to organise, collective
bargaining, safety at work and compensation and te rights
of workers and employees. The Sudanese working class and
its trade unions actually had reached such an advance
position and wrenched their rights even before the ILO
Convention in 1987.

Another important aspect of the communists' contribution
within the trade union movement was their relentless
efforts to link the struggle of the workers with the
society at large. Since its inception the Sudanese trade
union movement made worthy contribution to the struggle for
national liberation, for democratic rights and freedoms
including human rights, for freedom of association and
social and economic development. These advanced positions
on the national questions were reflected ar the resolution
adopted by the Congress of the General Union of the
Sudanese Workers in 1951 calling for evacuation of foreign
troops from the Sudan and the right of the Sudanese people
to self-determination. This position was taken against the
slogans raised by the bourgeois parties that either called
for unity of the Nile Valley which meant unity with Egypt
or that which called for independence and alliance with
Britain. This board national stand was later adopted by the
whole political parties and led to the independence of the

We also recall the general strike waged by the G.U.S.W.
(General Union of Sudanese Workers) on April 1952 for the
protection of democratic rights and against a new law
curbing these freedoms. This law was especially introduced
to limit contacts with the international democratic
organisation like WFTU, RUS, WIDF and WFDY and to curb the
growing influence and actions of the Sudanese Communist

Thanks to the dedication of the Sudanese Communists and
their role within the trade unions that the concept of
solidarity between the different sectors of the society and
the mass organisations was highly effective. As early as
1951, the GUSW launched solidarity actions with the student
movement when 119 students were dismissed for their
political activity. It was this action and many other
similar actions that led to the realisation of the mass
democratic organisations - the organisations of the civil
society - that if untied they can achieve their desired
goals .

At the same time, the Sudanese trade union movement with
the assistance of the communists was consistent in
presenting an alternative to the economic policies of the
governments. It consistently criticised the budget and the
wages policies. It demanded the introduction of the minimum

Because of their internationalist outlook, the Sudanese
communists have made a worthy contribution to raise the
banners of international solidarity within the Sudanese
working class. It was due to this outlook that the GUSW
solidarised with the struggle of the people of South
Africa, Palestine, Congo, Egypt, among others. It joined
WFTU in 1957. Its then General Secretary late Al-Shafie,
who was member of the Political Bureau of the Party, was
elected as WFTU Vice President.

The G.U.S.W. played a considered role in raising solidarity
actions among Arab workers. It was one if the main pillars
behind the establishment of the Confederation of Arab rade
Unions. On the African continent it played a similar role
and helped to establish the Organisation of Africa Trade
Unions Unity.

As stated before, the Sudanese trade unions with the
assistance of the communist leadership was among the front
runners in the struggle for national independence. It
continued to play the same role after the independence. It
challenged the national governments whenever it deemed
necessary. It fought for economic independence of the
country and against the government policy to accept US
project which was aimed to fill the gap created by the
withdrawal of Britain and France from Africa, and to curb
the tide of the struggle for economic independence among
the newly independent African states and cooperation with
the Soviet Union.

As stated earlier, the Sudanese trade union movement helped
to promote unity of action among the different social and
public organisations. Under the influence of the communists
the organisations of farmer, students, youth and women were
established. Lateron, the communists helped to establish
trade union organisations for civil servants, professionals
and technicians. Their step of organising the new or modern
forces in the society which was initiated by the
communists, has had a far fetched repercussion in the
struggle of the Sudanese people. Twice under the joint
leadership of the trade union movement and the mass
democratic organisations military regimes were topped.

During the first military regime of 1958-64, the Sudanese
Communist Party introduced the slogan of general political
strike and civil disobedience as a tool to overthrow the
military dictatorship. It became evident that to achieve
such a goal the organised trade union movement must play
the major role. These efforts led to formation of the Front
of Associations which grouped workers' trade unions,
farmers union, civil servants, teachers and professionals
which contributed to the overthrow of the military
dictatorship. As a recognition of the role played by the
Sudanese trade union movement in general and the workers
and farmers particular, both workers and farmers were
represented in the 1st government that followed the defeat
of the dictatorship. At the same time, the political
parties had recognised the role played by the new forces,
so special parliamentary constituencies were allowed to the

Again in 1958, the Sudanese trade union movement had played
the major role in topping the 2nd military dictatorship.

Today, while the Sudanese people is struggling against the
dictatorship of the National Islamic Front, the trade union
movement is expected to shoulder its responsibility on this
struggle. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the
umbrella organisation of the opposition has stated that the
national uprising protected by arms as the weapon to be
used to topple the regime. However, in the meantime, the
popular masses, especially the democratic trade union
movement, must play their role to promote democracy, to
stop the civil war, to restore the rule of law and pave the
way for a new more human democratic rule and an alternative
that will put an end to the vicious circle of democracy -
military regime.

Today, the Sudanese Communist Party, with its cadres both
within the DNA and the trade unions, is making its modest
contribution to the struggle of the Sudanese people for
democracy and social justice. Like the rest of our people,
a number of its cadres fell victims to the government
repression. But the Sudanese basing themselves on the rich
tradition of our people's struggle will continue to be the
forefront on the confrontation with the dictatorial regime
till it is toppled.

However we must point out that not all the contributions of
the Sudanese communists were positive. They committed a
number of mistakes. We can point out to the mistake
committed by freezing the legitimate demands of the trade
unions in the name of the defence of the revolution in
1969. Equally , it was wrong to demand the purge of the
civil service, the police and the army. In the name of the
revolution the Sudanese trade union praticiced forced and
unjust dismissal of working people. This was the same
policy introduced by the dictatorial regimes and the
communists were the first to pay the price. We can also
point to the call by the trade unions to their members to
co-operate with the security forces in defending the work
places which led in certain cases so that some trade
unionists either played the role of the security forces or
became agents them.

However, our party has learned from its past mistakes, The
rich experience with its negative and positives sites,
forms part of our history, which helps us to advance on the
positive contribution, by learning from the masses, by
being part of a larger movement for democracy and social
justice on our country.

The new challenges in the world, the struggle against the
globalisation of the rich, poverty, disease, destruction of
the environment, military interventions and the use of
force against sovereign states, the attacks against the
rights of the working people, all these challenges
necessitate more Cupertino and solidarity among the
different ranks of the world trade union unity.