A new SA trade union federation is born to rival Cosatu
Speaking at the launch of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), Jay Naidoo urges members to focus on growing mass power
On Friday, former general secretary of trade union federation Cosatu Jay Naidoo urged the leadership of the new federation launched in Boksburg to focus on growing mass power. Naidoo was joined by another former Cosatu general-secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, during at the launch of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).
"Our country is now at crossroads," Naidoo said. "What we have to understand is that at that crossroads it is only one language those in power understand and that is building power. It is not about how articulate we are‚ not about our PowerPoint presentation. It is ‘do we have power at the point of production’."
The new federation comes after the country’s biggest union‚ the National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa)‚ was expelled by Cosatu. Numsa regrouped with Vavi‚ who had also been expelled from Cosatu‚ and other activists to mobilise and find a new home for workers.
Numsa openly criticised President Jacob Zuma and his Cabinet for ignoring the plight of workers. Among one of the contentious issues was the government’s insistence on implementing e-tolling in Gauteng against the will of the workers.
Naidoo urged the new federation to ensure it is united and that it puts people at the centre of all its goals. He added that the "ancestors" who formed Cosatu would only want one thing — a united federation.
"They want us to be unified. They want our beautiful country to serve our people. There should be no unemployment. There should be no poverty. [What the ancestors of Cosatu are saying is] don’t just think about yourself. Think about the 55-million people. Think about 1994 where we made a covenant … and ask yourself, why have we not done it?"