Trade-union federations announce merger

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) and the Confederation of South African Workers’ Unions (Consawu) are to merge, they revealed on Tuesday.

The formal announcement of the trade-union federations’ merger will take place on Wednesday at Fedusa’s Roodepoort headquarters.

The move will create a politically independent, non-aligned federation with 1,1-million members.

Established in 1997, Fedusa represents more than 500 000 members from more than 20 affiliated trade unions.

Nactu is South Africa’s third-largest federation, consisting of 20 affiliated unions with a combined membership of nearly 400 000.

Formed in 1986, it was previously politically aligned to the Pan Africanist Congress and held black-consciousness ideologies.

Consawu, established in 2003, had 24 affiliated unions with 226 148 members by July.

Pre-empting the merger, the country’s largest trade-union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), on Tuesday said it has “always supported the vision of one united trade-union federation in South Africa”.

The initiative could be a “stepping stone” towards its vision of one-country, one federation—something all workers desire but which would be impossible without Cosatu’s 1,7-million paid-up members.

Cosatu, established in 1985, warned against the initiative taking the narrow, short-sighted position of becoming “a significant rival to Cosatu”.

“If they take that position, it will suggest that Cosatu, rather than capital, is their main enemy. Such a move would only assist the employers and government, who will seize on the opportunity to play divide-and-rule between different workers’ organisations and seriously weaken the union movement,” Cosatu cautioned.

It appealed to the leaders of the new federation to take the first route and open talks with Cosatu, “so that we can move towards the strong united federation we all aspire to create”.

“We are ready to engage with the new leadership on this,” it said.—Sapa

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