Painful to see workers divided - Madisha

2015-05-01 18:49
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GALLERY: Cosatu May Day march

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) march through Durban city centre for the annual May Day rally. View all the pics here.

Johannesburg - It is painful to see workers so divided that they are torn between which march to attend on Workers Day, Congress of the People deputy president Willie Madisha said on Friday.

''I have no doubt that millions of workers and unemployed citizens of the country are very sad and deeply hurt, like myself, to witness what is happening in what was once the biggest workers federation in the country,'' said Madisha, who was once president of the Cosatu.

He was kicked out for supporting former president Thabo Mbeki over President Jacob Zuma.

Cosatu was formed in 1995 to take up workers’ problems on the shop floor, but, said Madisha, it had lost direction and cared only about politics. Workers no longer mattered to the leadership.

''It is so painful to see what is happening today. Workers are cut and divided in the middle. Today, in Durban, innocent workers must participate in either one or the other march," he said, referring to a march by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, and one by Cosatu, the federation it was expelled from. Both were being held in Durban.

''Leaders in Cosatu are more politicians than dedicated representatives of the workers.''

Workers’ interest first

Madisha said history would judge Zuma harshly for choosing to attend the Cosatu rally, instead of the Numsa one.

He felt the answer was to form an independent workers' federation and for union leaders to put workers' interests first.

Madisha was also president of the powerful SA Democratic Teachers Organisation (Sadtu).

He fell out of favour with Cosatu and Sadtu when he raised questions about a R500 000 donation to SA Communist Party Secretary General Blade Nzimande, and for openly supporting Mbeki, in violation of a union and federation resolution to back Zuma.

He is now a Cope MP, a party formed by mainly ex-ANC members when Mbeki was booted out as ANC president.

Cosatu has been through turmoil ahead of this year's Workers' Day.

It expelled Numsa, the federaton's largest affiliate, when it refused to back Cosatu's support for Zuma during last year's elections. Cosatu is trying to fill the void with a new union, the Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa.

It also expelled its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Read more on:    cosatu  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  willie madisha  |  durban

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