Naidoo addressed delegates at the launch of a new trade union federation in Ekurhuleni. The country does not need the nuclear power programme, he said.
"The nuclear deal has nothing to do with our energy needs...it will create no jobs or technology innovation. The skills for that programme will come from Russia, China or France, who will have a stranglehold on our economy," Naidoo told the delegates.
"At the same time, there's a reasonable demand for free, decolonised and quality education, and we are prepared to throw trillion rands at a nuclear deal that we do not need and sacrifice our children's education."
There could be many more jobs created from renewable energy compared to the nuclear deal, he said. South Africa's problems were not unique, as they were debated all over the world.
Meanwhile young people across the world were losing an interest in voting, and saw how politicians and governments "had become captured".
"Why do we give our power to politicians while we know they would never represent our interests? If you want to be relevant you need to have power and support on the ground. There should be no poverty, unemployment, or no running water. When you debate here...remember that you're debating for the 55 million in this country.]," he said to a loud applause.
"We are at a tipping point. If you want to be strong, you have to unite...no sweeping things under the carpet anymore. Majority of our people go to bed hungry, but we walk on minerals such gold as and platinum but our people remain very poor...and what do our leaders do? They fiddle while the country burns."
Naidoo thanked young people for "not keeping quite and reminding the nation of what needs to happen".