Carol Paton | State of the unions: Ruptures between labour and ANC getting harder to heal

accreditation
Share your Subscriber Article
You have 5 articles to share every month. Send this story to a friend!
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Fin24 writer-at-large Carol Paton.
Fin24 writer-at-large Carol Paton.
Liza van Deventer

The ANC and government's relationship with trade unions is changing. While workers still join unions in large numbers, there are frequent and ongoing ruptures with the ANC and government. President Cyril Ramaphosa hopes to build a social compact with business and labour but the foundation is weaker than ever, writes Carol Paton.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa was booed off the stage by workers at the May Day rally in Rustenburg a week ago, it was one of those revealing moments that showed how thin the social compact of 1994 has worn. This is not a new insight. The contract between the people and government has been under pressure for a decade or more, expressed most directly in election results. In the municipal vote six months ago, the ANC’s share of support dropped below 50% despite the individual popularity of Ramaphosa: the clearest signal that political trust is in deep decline. 

What is notable though, is that ruptures of this sort are becoming more frequent and political institutions less able or less inclined to paper over the cracks and hold things together. This is true for both the ANC and Cosatu. As Ramaphosa pointed out the next day in his weekly letter the incident reflected "a weakening of trust [by workers] in their union and Federation and political leadership and political institutions". In the aftermath, Cosatu, in turn, pointed a finger at the ANC, it said in a provocative quote from Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky:

Support independent journalism
Get 14 days free to read all our investigative and in-depth journalism. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed.
Subscribe
Already a subscriber? Sign in
Rand - Dollar
15.60
+0.8%
Rand - Pound
19.71
+0.6%
Rand - Euro
16.74
+0.7%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.17
-0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.7%
Gold
1,853.51
+0.1%
Silver
22.08
+0.3%
Palladium
2,071.50
+2.5%
Platinum
955.00
+0.5%
Brent Crude
117.40
+2.9%
Top 40
63,883
+1.4%
All Share
70,486
+1.4%
Resource 10
76,948
+0.6%
Industrial 25
76,115
+1.3%
Financial 15
16,257
+2.5%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot