Nehawu slams Mantashe for 'yellow federation' comment

2015-06-04 18:54
Gwede Mantashe (Picture: AFP)

Gwede Mantashe (Picture: AFP)

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Johannesburg - The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union [Nehawu] has lashed out at ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe for his warning to Cosatu about becoming a "yellow federation" dominated by public service unions.

"The problem with this statement is that it reduces public sector unions to unreliable and ahistorical organisations and sets the workers against each other," Nehawu said in a statement on Thursday.

"Public sector unions have grown their numbers and scored their victories because of their improved levels of service to members, mobilisation capacity and militancy, not because of their proximity to government."

Addressing the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) congress on Wednesday, Mantashe warned that once the trade union federation was dominated by the public sector unions it would be in trouble.

"We should have industrial unions building themselves," he said.

Nehawu is currently the Cosatu's biggest affiliate following the expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).

The union said it was the role of Cosatu to dominate all sectors of the economy, including the public sector.

"Cosatu public sector unions have more than 50% membership already in the sector and this should be encouraged.

"The SG should be encouraging the federation to unite the workers across the board, instead of encouraging competition."

Nehawu said it was regrettable that Mantashe had "fallen victim" to what it called a perpetuated myth that workers' employment sectors could be used as a yardstick to measure their level of consciousness.

"Public sector workers face the same challenges as those confronting the industrial workers.

"This unfortunate statement is also flawed because it, unintentionally, paints the state as a better devil compared to capital and ignores its hierarchical, exploitative and coercive nature," Nehawu said.

It said public sector unions were leading the working class struggles.

"The argument by the SG to demonise public sector unions is equivalent to the neoliberal logic perpetuated by Treasury that treats the public servants' salaries as expenditure, instead of investment.

"They both relegate the public sector workers to the bottom end of the priority pyramid."

Read more on:    nehawu  |  cosatu  |  num  |  gwede mantashe  |  labour

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