Addressing delegates on Thursday, Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the federation would lodge a section 77 notice with the National Economic Development and Labour Council to allow Cosatu's 2.2-million members to go on strike to force the government to change the current economic policies.
Cosatu said the working class's patience was running out, and it adopted several resolutions that it will take to the ANC conference in Mangaung in December. They included a call for state intervention in strategic sectors of the economy, including nationalisation and state ownership, and an overhaul of macroeconomic policy.
The congress also called for a radical economic shift that would include the realignment of the treasury and a new mandate for the Reserve Bank, which it said should be nationalised.
It said aspects of the new growth path would have to be realigned with the proposed new macroeconomic framework, and all state-owned enterprises and state development finance institutions had to be given a new mandate.
It said urgent steps should be taken to reverse the current investment freeze and the export of South African capital – R1.2-trillion was lying idle, which employers were refusing to invest.
There was a call to launch a national bargaining campaign, and for an organising conference to be convened before the end of 2012.
It also said the apartheid wage structure should be transformed and a new national wage policy should be crafted. It proposed a national minimum wage and mandatory, centralised collective bargaining.
Irvin Jim, general secretary of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, said his union welcomed the ANC Youth League's drive for nationalisation and said it would go a long way towards helping the country to redistribute wealth and put a stop to the plundering of the mining industry by oligarchs.
"We must take ownership and control of these minerals and redistribute wealth and champion industrialisation. That includes imposing tax on those minerals," Jim said.
"We also support the youth league's call for expropriation of land without compensation and the removal of the property clauses."
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the ANC policy conference in June discussed the issue of nationalisation and a decision would be taken in Mangaung. "We are inviting Cosatu to make their input in order to help us to understand what strategic minerals we are talking about," Mantashe told delegates.
The final day of the congress turned into a mini-Mangaung, with union delegates supporting Jacob Zuma's re-election as ANC president and those opposed to it competing to make their voices heard.
Vavi had to intervene and remind delegates of the house rules that prohibited showing any signs of support that would pre-empt the debate on the leadership of the ANC.
"We will not show signs," Vavi shouted.
But Zuma's supporters responded by singing a popular song about Zuma's detractors getting cold feet, as well as the the congress favourite, Thina Sihamba noZuma (We are going with Zuma).