Vavi says Cosatu will not be weakened

2012-08-24 11:49

Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi says the attacks on the federation in the wake of the Marikana tragedy will not weaken it.

Vavi, who was addressing the media along with other federation leaders, said there was a plot to weaken Cosatu because of the political power it wielded through its 2.2 million-strong membership.

Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini named expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, African People’s Convention leader Themba Godi, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa and the DA as being among those who wanted to reduce Cosatu’s power.

Vavi said part of the “onslaught” was the rise of splinter unions such the National Transport and Allied Workers Union and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which broke away from the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union and the National Union of Mineworkers.

“Suddenly politicians who, on a daily basis, condemn workers for being too militant and for acting against the interests of the unemployed, are suddenly expressing sorrow and disgust and have even have the guts to blame ‘defocus’ among unions for this state of affairs.

“Their latest recruit is former ANC Youth league leader Julius Malema, a wealthy essentially right-wing leader, who demagogically exploits any perceived weakness to encourage workers to leave their union, their only means of defence.

“What all these opportunist right-wing politicians have in common is to blame Cosatu for the workers’ problems and try to divide and weaken the workers’ movement,” he said.

He said the federation’s conference, which is expected to be held in Johannesburg next month, would discuss ways the unions could give better services to their members and thwart the rival “bogus unions and their political and financial backers”.

He lamented the conditions under which mineworkers toiled, saying they were paid R5 600 per month even though they faced death every day.

In contrast, he said Lonmin chief financial officer Alan Ferguson was earning R854 581 a month.

Vavi said Cosatu had raised the issue of police brutality – what he termed their “skiet en donder” attitude – for many years.

“We have on countless occasions protested against the immediate resort to firing live ammunition which reveals a serious lack of training and planning on crowd control tactics.

We have also protested the use of rubber bullets on unarmed protesters.

“Police must be trained to negotiate before using force to control crowds. We want to see no guns, including those firing rubber bullets. We want to see riot shields, water cannons and tear gas, not R5 automatic rifles, to control crowds,” he said.

However, he also slammed the use of weapons by strikers, saying demonstrations should be peaceful.

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