Cape Town – Cosatu’s endorsement of Cyril Ramaphosa to lead the ANC is a desperate attempt by the trade union federation to salvage some relevan...
Cape Town – Cosatu’s endorsement of Cyril Ramaphosa to lead the ANC is a desperate attempt by the trade union federation to salvage some relevance and credibility, Zwelinzima Vavi said on Monday.
“Cosatu and the SACP are throwing what little weight they have behind the political ambitions of the ANC deputy president, who is preparing for a titanic factional battle,” said Vavi, who is Cosatu’s former general secretary.
It was not a struggle for democracy, but one between competing interests, he said at the 10th national congress of the National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa) in Cape Town.
Vavi said Cosatu was again repeating a mistake it made when it was part of that “unprincipled rubber-stamp alliance”.
“Cosatu and the SACP yet again want to use workers, not only as voting fodder, but they also want to trample them underfoot as they clamber higher into positions of power in government, and in SOEs and other positions of authority, so that they too can call a swimming pool a fire pool when it is politically convenient to do so.”
The only thing the various factions agreed on was the presence of a third force that was to blame for the country’s problems.
“If a third force does exist, can we suggest that those who are looking for it, look no further than the secret shebeen in deepest Saxonwold. And please, stop insulting our intelligence with this nonsense,” he said.
Vavi said the once-proud labour federation was in cahoots with bosses and ruling elites to sell out the interest of workers.
Vavi lambasted Cosatu for negotiating at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) about measures to end long and violent strikes, and about strike ballots and voluntary arbitration.
Cosatu had resisted proposals for a second strike ballot to determine if workers wanted to return to work during lengthy strikes.
On Monday, Vavi said Cosatu had gone behind the backs of workers to negotiate for a more flexible labour market policy.
“They are negotiating a clause on something they have called longevity of a strike, so that in future the right of workers to strike will be diluted, and even criminalised if the bosses believe the strike has been on for too long,” Vavi said.
He criticized the proposed national minimum wage of R3 500 as an insult to workers. He said a family of four needed at least R5 544 a month just to survive.
During a parliamentary question and answer session the previous week, Ramaphosa called the national minimum wage a “launching pad” from which salaries for poor South Africans would start to increase.
Vavi said they would challenge ministers and MPs come February to try and live on R3 500 for one month, to see if it would make a difference.
The conversations in the country had to change and should not about the SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng and the public broadcaster’s only remaining board member.
He detailed some of the plans they had for their union federation, which he said would involve all unions working together.
They would hit the streets and drum up support for the federation next year.