AFRICANGLOBE – Several affiliates of South Africa’s largest trade union federation, Confederation of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) have accused the leaders of the body of undermining it and turning it “into a toothless giant in order to please its political masters”.
Nine of Cosatu’s 21 affiliates – including the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA), which is the biggest union – said the federation no longer had the interests of workers at heart as it was serving unnamed political masters.
“We believe that we have the support of the majority of COSATU workers,” the unions said in a joint statement Monday.
The affiliates are the Communication Workers Union, the Democratic Nurses Union of SA, the Food and Allied Workers Union and NUMSA.
Others include the Public and Allied Workers Union of SA, the SA Commercial and Catering Workers Union, the SA Football Players Union, the SA Municipal Workers Union, and the SA State and Allied Workers Union.
Last week Cosatu held a special executive meeting in Johannesburg where it discussed holding a special national congress.
The executive, however, declined a request by the nine affiliates, who boycotted the meeting, for a special national congress.
The affiliates said they did not understand why Cosatu claimed it could not afford a special congress yet it was paying millions of rand for a special audit to prosecute suspended secretary general, Zwelinzima Vavi.
The nine affiliates have called for the reinstatement of Vavi, whom they consider the legitimate voice of the workers.
Vavi was suspended last year after he said he was accused of allegedly having an affair with a junior employee.
The nine affiliates want a congress to be held by the end of March and a new Cosatu leadership elected and have threatened to take the mother body to court if a congress is not held.
The unions said they would continue to campaign for the congress and would use all “constitutional and legal means” to do so.
The executive meeting also took a decision to give NUMSA an ultimatum following resolutions it had taken at its special congress last year.
Cosatu wants NUMSA to give reasons why it should not be suspended or expelled.
The body’s president, Sdumo Dlamini told reporters that he was hopeful that the disagreements between affiliates would be dealt with.
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