Allegations of union corruption must be probed: Vavi

By Drum Digital
12 March 2013

Allegations of corruption within unions must be investigated, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Tuesday.

"Is that not what we demanded from government?" asked Vavi.

"Rumours against each other fly in the media... They must be investigated," he told Cosatu's collective bargaining, organising, and campaigns conference in Boksburg.

Vavi has reportedly been caught up in accusations of impropriety in the sale of the Congress of SA Trade Unions' old headquarters in Leyds Street, Braamfontein.

Vavi warned against a "labour aristocracy", where shop-stewards no longer wore overalls or did the "donkey work", but sat in air-conditioned offices and were incapable of being of service to members.

Confrontations in union structures were often not about political ideology, but about money issues, and were "based on elitism".

He warned unionists about becoming preoccupied with their "Audi machines", and urged them to confront the "social distance" which was being created.

"Once we no longer take up issues of the bottom, you already belong to a class within a class," he said.

Bargaining forums were becoming less representative and this allowed for the minister of labour to extend labour agreements.

Cosatu planned to resist the Free Market Foundation's Constitutional Court challenge against the Labour Relations Act sections allowing collective agreements made in bargaining councils to be extended to non-member employers and employees.

He said being of service to union members was becoming a "big problem".

"Let's restore the love to our members."

Vavi said 71 percent of the workforce was not unionised.

Of those who were, 38 percent had joined a union to be protected from unfair dismissals and 33 percent because they wanted to improve wages and conditions of employment.

"Therefore, the overwhelming majority of our members have not joined us because of our history and our nice colours we are wearing today.

"Service members, love our members afresh, let's renew the love to our members," Vavi said.

-by Sapa

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