News24

Cosatu must get back to basics - Vavi

2012-09-04 10:17

Johannesburg - Cosatu must go back to its reason for existing when considering its future in two weeks' time, general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Monday.

"Cosatu was not formed so that individuals can cultivate their political colours and end up in Cabinet positions.... We are here because of the wages," he said in Johannesburg.

A recent survey conducted by the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) had found that 60% of members were unhappy with the wage settlements reached on their behalf, and the majority of those who were unhappy were in the private sector.

Failing members


"So when you see what is happening at Marikana, don't be surprised when that thing spreads to other sectors of the economy... because only 40% of our members are happy with the wage settlements."

He was referring to Lonmin's Marikana mine in North West, where 44 people had died in violence related to a wildcat strike.

Addressing Gauteng shop stewards, Vavi said despite the numerous strikes in the country, Cosatu had not succeeded in improving the base wage of its members.

This meant it was failing its members, as the survey found that at least a third of members joined a union to improve their wages and working conditions.

Discussion papers prepared for Cosatu's congress suggest the introduction of a national minimum wage in South Africa of around R4 500 a month.

This is the amount a worker with five dependants needed each month to be able to afford food, education, transport and other basics, Vavi said.

He said 50% of South Africans earned far below that, with an average of R3 200 a month.

"Now that's a disaster. We must relook the collective bargaining strategy."

Marikana mineworkers, who are demanding R12 500 a month, deserved far more than that for the hostile conditions under which they worked, Vavi said.

National congress


Cosatu holds its national congress in Midrand from September 17 to 20.

Vavi said Cosatu was going into the congress "not in the best of space".

Its biggest affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was "under attack". He was referring to Marikana mine, where the violence had been blamed in part on a turf battle between the NUM and a new union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

The SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union's former president Ephraim Mphahlele resigned two weeks ago amid an investigation into his conduct, to join rival union, National Transport and Allied Workers' Union.

There was "division within the ranks" in the Chemical, Energy, Paper Printing, Wood and Allied Workers' Union, and the labour department was threatening to deregister the Communication Workers' Union, Vavi said.

Although Cosatu's membership had grown to 2.2 million, it had not achieved its goal, set in 2003, to have four million members by 2015.

Vavi blamed the problems on a lack of shop steward training and leadership, and the neglect of worker education.

Cosatu needed to look at ways to attract younger members and more members in the domestic workers' sector, security industry, and agriculture, as union penetration there was low.

Cosatu was failing to create non-racial unions, Vavi said.

Eighty percent of Cosatu members were black, 14% coloured, 4% Indian, and 1% white.

"That's not good, comrades. We are not doing something right," Vavi said, adding that this did not reflect South Africa's demographic breakdown.

Comments
  • gandanga.tororo - 2012-09-04 11:58

    blah--blaaaaah. never ends, when will you put words into action?

      francois.smith.7 - 2012-09-04 13:09

      There we ship another 100, 000 jobs to China, Zuma's new brothers.

  • tony.naidoo - 2012-09-04 11:59

    Cosatu has become irrelevant as a labour organisation. It IS a political bedfellow of the anc and has been slowly, but surely, selling out workers rights. All former labour heavyweights are now in govt. The workers - the lifeblood of the SA economy have been hoodwinked! The suckers continue to float this useless, toothless anc whore! Time for change. Assess your future. Ditch these scumbags. The power is in YOUR hands! Use it in THIS lifetime!

      gary.smith.rsa - 2012-09-17 20:42

      A few years ago I challenged Vavi on live radio about the validity of the tripartite alliance with respect to the obvious conflict in policies. His answer - "just because it makes you uncomfortable doesn't mean that it is invalid". No justification supported by potential benefits - just a simple "shut up and go away" response. Well Vavi, time has proven my point. You can't play in both teams - unless of course you are only in the game for your own benefit!! I have no time for communist fairy tales but they and the trade unions should have stood on their own if only to help produce a balanced society with reasonable socialist policies. The problem is that Vavi and ALL of his tripartite cronies are in it for their turn at the trough. For no other reason.

  • john.jacobs16 - 2012-09-04 12:06

    VAVI SHOULD HAVE SAID HE IS NOW BACK TO BASICS , ITS HIM WHO HAS BEEN SO OBSSESSED WITH ANC POLITICS, ITS ALSO HIM WHO NEGLECT HIS DUTIES AND EMPLOYEE WELFARE , MARIKANA WAS A WAKE UP TO HIM , HE SPENDS THE WHOLE DAY POINTING FINGURES BUT FORGETS HE IS ALSO PUBLIC OFFICE BEARER WHOS PRIMARY MANDATE IS TO REPRESENT EMPLOYEES ,

      vincent.v.sambo - 2012-09-04 12:33

      Mr Vavi, why you waited for so long to say this, the truth is that COSATU never represented the interest of the workers. Sooner or later workers will lay charges against your COSATU for misleading them, stealing their money.........and amongst all a charge for transforming the democratic South Africa to undemocratic “African National Clowns”

  • pages:
  • 1