Cosatu won't unite until sexual exploitation issues are addressed - Sadtu

2015-07-14 21:39

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Johannesburg - Issues around sexual exploitation of women by their male colleagues within the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) had to be addressed before the federation could speak of unity among unions, a SA Democratic Teachers Union official said on Tuesday.

"[Last year], one of the women leaders was [allegedly] exploited sexually by the general secretary, whom we refer to as the employer to that worker," Sadtu KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said on the sidelines of the special national congress in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.

Caluza was referring to the incident where former general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was put on special leave in August pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing relating to his affair with a junior employee who had accused him of rape. He said they had an affair.

The woman subsequently withdrew the sexual harassment complaint against him.

Following Vavi's suspension the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), an ally of his, lodged an application in the High Court in Johannesburg challenging Vavi's suspension.

Vavi then lodged papers to be added as an applicant in Numsa's challenge.

Vavi was dismissed in March after a special central executive committee meeting decided he was guilty of gross misconduct related to other charges.

Said Caluza: "I was expecting the congress to engage on that matter... even in the discussion documents, to get more into that engagement, to say 'How far are we as the federation when it comes to gender struggles', because if you fail to do that, there is no way that we can reach the unity that we are talking about."

She said, before any work towards sealing the cracks within Cosatu could be dealt with, these issues needed to be addressed.

Discussions needed to take place and commissions held ahead of the federation's national congress in November, where, according to her, the matter should be tabled and dealt with.

Caluza said Cosatu and its alliance partners, the ANC and the SA Communist Party, had an agenda - the implementation of which they called the "national democratic revolution" which was a second, more radical phase of democracy.

But even in that context, women were still a topical part of that agenda, she said.

"So that is why we felt we must just rise in the congress and remind Cosatu that in our struggle there is this question of the gender struggle, which is why we propose that as we go to the national congress in November, there must be a commission that will be engaging more on the issue of gender struggles."

Read more on:    sadtu  |  cosatu  |  johannesburg  |  cosatu special national congress

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