Brics: Unions marginalised, says Cosatu

2013-03-26 00:00

SOUTH African trade unions are being excluded from policy- making at the fifth Brics summit being held in Durban.

That was the warning from Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi yesterday.

About 5 000 delegates from five member countries are attending the two-day summit to find common ground on economic issues.

“Our complaint is that we are somehow outside. The business people are inside,” Vavi said.

He made the statement after the Trade Union Forum, which consists of labour federations in the Brics countries, emerged from a two-day discussion of issues facing workers and the political economy.

The forum took place a day before the start of today’s summit between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“We have no representation in the summit … We want direct participation. We want representation and we are prepared to enter into discussions with leaders of the Brics.

“We want to be inside. Workers can’t be excluded from such an important institution when business is allowed,” Vavi said.

The Trade Union Forum said Brics should ensure full participation of the working class in all its institutions.

“Only in that way will Brics be different from existing multilateral institutions,” its declaration read.

As part of its resolutions, the forum “cautiously welcomed” speculation that the summit would announce the creation of a Brics development bank.

“We strongly believe that this bank should take a different form from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It should primarily be developmental in character,” read the declaration.

“They can’t adopt the business-as-usual approach of the World Bank.

“There must be a break in what the Brics bank stands for and what those institutions stand for,” Vavi said, adding that unions must have representation in the highest decision-making body of the proposed bank.

• mayibongwe.maqhina@

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