Vavi decries smear campaign

By Drum Digital
18 April 2013

Individuals leaking divisive information within Cosatu will be harshly dealt with, its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told a workers' summit on Thursday.

"The newspapers' sources, who we now can say without any fear of a contradiction are a few senior leaders of our affiliated unions at the level of the presidents and general secretaries, are the new enemies of the working class," he said.

"They have been given a mandate to destroy [the Congress of SA Trade Unions] or at best create so much division that the federation can no longer be an independent movement capable of fighting for the interests of members."

Vavi told the National Union of Metalworkers of SA's (Numsa) bargaining conference an orchestrated campaign to discredit him was being implemented through the media.

"The mandate of the sources is very clear: target the general secretary and smear him continuously in the newspapers until workers lose trust in him. After all, they know the only way to kill a snake is to smash its head," he said.

"Either they succeed to divide and weaken Cosatu or we expose them and crush them. Eventually we shall defeat these few individuals acting as sources of the newspapers; we have no doubt about that," said Vavi.

Regarding the contentious National Development Plan, Vavi said Cosatu would continue to differ with its alliance partner, the ANC, about the NDP proposals.

"It is simply unfair for anyone, in particular our ally the [African National Congress], to ask us to co-operate with our own oppression and exploitation, which is what the NDP's major proposals are.

"The NDP represents a typical example of the chicken and a pig partnership, in which the chicken offers to lay eggs for breakfast, but asks the pig to donate bacon. This will become the last straw in every respect," he said.

The NDP was an "anti-worker" policy and its economic and labour market proposals constituted a serious assault on workers.

Earlier, Vavi told the summit most workers demanded decent work and the banning of labour brokers, which should have been resolved long ago.

"Workers are telling us everywhere that they are tired of listening to themselves demanding a complete ban on labour brokers," he said.

"It is now four years since the ANC committed itself to the principle of decent work. Decent work and labour brokering is like oil and water --they don't mix," said Vavi.

Giving feedback on Cosatu's collective bargaining, organising, and campaigns conference held in March, Vavi said workers were disgruntled.

"The main message from our members is crystal clear: workers have had enough of poverty wages, retrenchments, labour brokers, obscene levels of inequality, and arrogant bosses," he said.

"We will unite to resist the attacks on collective bargaining and the right to strike, and step up the fight to transform the apartheid wage structure and implement, among others, a statutory national minimum wage and a basic income grant."

-by Sapa

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