Beyond Marikana: the crisis – Cosatu fears Juju-led congress disruptions

2012-09-15 17:01

Cosatu affiliates attending the labour federation’s congress from tomorrow are bracing themselves for possible wildcat strikes instigated by expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.

An insider from one of the affiliates said they feared Malema would cause trouble among teachers, municipal workers and transport workers during Cosatu’s four-day congress in Midrand.

“Marikana has become a precedent, and workers may decide they don’t want unions and will negotiate outside these,” he said.

Violence erupted at Lonmin mine in Marikana after members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), a rival to the Cosatu-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers, went on strike for better wages.

The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said affiliate general secretaries and presidents met on Thursday and were told there “was a plan (by Malema) to get workers to revolt against their union leaders”.

This would be in a bid to weaken the unions so that they could not participate in ANC politics and “weaken” President Jacob Zuma’s administration.

The source also said there was concern about Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s inaction.

“He could have gone to Marikana and told workers to get back to work,” he said.

Police union Popcru, teachers’ union Sadtu, the NUM and defence force union Sasfu issued statements on Friday condeming Malema’s “inflammatory statements”.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said disruption by Malema “is a possibility, but we have no idea what his
plans are”.

Cravin refused to talk about discussions on Malema between union bosses because a statement on this is expected to be tabled at congress.

President Zuma on Thursday told MPs that wage negotiations at mines should happen within the prescripts of the law, which meant Amcu, as a minority union, couldn’t be recognised.

The ANC’s national executive committee, which met this weekend near Pretoria, also discussed the matter.

The party’s national working committee said in its report to the meeting: “The effect of the developments in Marikana is the destruction of established industrial relations dispensation, replacing it with the workers’ representatives with no collective identity.”

The report recommended the ANC “take an active interest in the interests of workers broadly” and support Cosatu unions when they are “under siege”.

Vavi could face a challenge from Cosatu’s KwaZulu-Natal secretary, Zet Luzipho, during the elections at the congress this week.

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