Cosatu issues ultimatum to rebel unions

Labour federation Cosatu has issued its strongest warning yet to the rebel unions that continue to boycott its central executive committee (CEC) meetings, saying they must choose whether they want to return to the federation or be expelled.

The three affiliates – the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu), the South African State and Allied Workers’ Union (Sasawu) and the South African Professional Footballers’ Union – once again snubbed the Cosatu CEC this week, which was called to finalise the details of the special national congress on July 13.

The three unions are among the seven rebel Cosatu unions that asked the special national congress to discuss issues of leadership, unity and cohesion. The rebel unions said they would continue to boycott the CEC meetings until Cosatu reinstates its former general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

Cosatu acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said although the special CEC expressed the need to consolidate unity in the federation this could not be achieved at all costs.

“The careful approach [by Cosatu leaders towards rebel unions] will not continue forever. The conduct of the leaders [of the rebel unions] cannot be tolerated,” he said.

Fawu and Sasawu would not be able to participate in Cosatu’s decision-making processes because they were five months in arrears with their subscription fees, he said.    

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said he did not understand why the rebel unions failed to attend the CEC, which was aimed at finalising the details of the special congress they had called for. He said the CEC was confident that the federation would have enough money for both the special congress and the ordinary national conference in November.

Meanwhile, Cosatu said it rejected the new e-tolls dispensation, which it described as the privatisation of public goods. “Cosatu CEC reiterated the [call] to campaign for [an] efficient, reliable and accessible public transport system,” Ntshalintshali said.

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