We have to unite if we want to be strong - Jay Naidoo

2017-04-21 20:18
Jay Naidoo. (Netwerk24)

Jay Naidoo. (Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - Cosatu's founding general secretary on Friday urged those behind the launch of a new labour federation to ensure they remained united.

"Think very carefully before we use words that divide us. We must be robust, we must be strong, we must be honest, but talk with the heart, not just the head," Jay Naidoo said at the inaugural congress of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).

It had 21 affiliate unions at the event and is expected to rival the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu). Former Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi is expected to be elected Saftu's leader over the weekend.

Naidoo recalled how Cosatu was formed 32 years ago.

"When we formed Cosatu we were not like you. We had no money, not one bank account; no employees. We met at a university surrounded by police eager to kill us."


Saftu's challenge was not just building the federation, but learning to communicate with one another.

"If you want to be strong you have to unite, speak in a strong voice," he said.

They should talk about the SA they wanted to see.

"Our country is now at a crossroads. And at that crossroads it is only one language that those in power understand and that is building power.

"It's not about how articulate we are, not about our PowerPoint presentation, not about a business plan. It's: 'Do we have power at the point of production?'"

It was time to return to the basics of organising power. He urged workers to partner with women, students and rural communities when fighting against society's elite.

He was 15 when he went to listen to listen to anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko.

"He said there is nothing to lose but our chains, that the mind of the oppressed is the main weapon in the hands of the oppressor. I stand here in 2017 and say that is the message again," Naidoo said.

Read more on:    saftu  |  cosatu  |  jay naidoo  |  johannesburg  |  politics

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