A few weeks ago we saw the launch of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu). At inception, it became the second largest union federation in SA, with 24 affiliates and about 700,000 members. The emergence of this new federation is seen by some to signal a new dawn for worker representation, control and democracy. Others see it as presenting a new political praxis, reaching out to informal workers and the vulnerable, unorganised workers who constitute 76% of the total workforce. In the words of its first general-secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, it is a "broad labour front" which takes seriously outsourced workers, those in the informal sector, the unemployed and students, and even goes as far as accommodating pensioners and retirees. Marked by its refusal to endorse or align itself with any political party, some have called Saftu a militant alternative to union federation Cosatu. Saftu itself claims to be "democratic, worker-controlled, militant, socialist-oriented, internati...

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