Federation of Unions of SA general secretary Dennis George. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA
Federation of Unions of SA general secretary Dennis George. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA
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The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), which burst on to the scene in 2017 with hopes of breaking Cosatu’s dominance, has failed to provide Nedlac (the National Economic Development and Labour Council) with key documents for admission to the council.

This is despite having lodged an application more than a year ago amid claims of political bias. Nedlac’s labour constituency says Saftu has not submitted audited financial statements, a membership tally and other documents required by law for parties to be considered for membership to the council.

Instead, the country’s youngest federation has cried foul in public, while communicating with Nedlac through its lawyers, who seemed to want the conditions waived.

Saftu failed to answer questions on the matter, despite several reassurances by spokesman Patrick Craven since Monday that it would do so.

There is nothing insidious from our side; when they applied we gave them the criteria but their lawyers were writing letters back and forth and not agreeing with the criteria. If they are not happy with it they can challenge it in the labour court
Dennis George
Fedusa general secretary

Cosatu, Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) and National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) leaders told Business Day on Monday there was no political conspiracy to block Saftu and the issue was rather an administrative requirement.

"There is nothing insidious from our side; when they applied we gave them the criteria but their lawyers were writing letters back and forth and not agreeing with the criteria. If they are not happy with it they can challenge it in the labour court," said Fedusa general secretary Dennis George.

Cosatu, Fedusa and Nactu are founding parties to Nedlac and constitute its labour constituency. Among other functions, along with business, the government and the community constituencies, the three federations consider all proposed labour legislation relating to labour market policy before it is introduced to Parliament.

In September 2017, Saftu members protested outside the venue where Nedlac held its annual summit, accusing the organisation of delays and obstruction. However, Nedlac executive director Madoda Vilakazi said last week Saftu’s application was received only on March 6 2018.

Cosatu’s Matthew Parks said Saftu had the option to launch a court application if it deemed the Nedlac process unfair. He referenced the application made by the now deregistered Confederations of South African Workers’ Union, which in 2011 lost its challenge against the Nedlac Act at the Supreme Court of Appeal.

It was ruled then that it would be inappropriate for anybody except the labour constituency to determine the criteria by which organised labour should admit federations of trade unions. "We do not want to be gatekeepers. If they (Saftu) qualify, it should be easy to prove that," Marks said.

In a question-and-answer session in Parliament last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the issue should be resolved by the labour constituency.

mahlakoanat@businesslive.co.za

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