Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa called for unity within Cosatu on Friday and for its members to stop silencing critics.

“I am pleased there has been co-operation from Cosatu affiliates and we welcome and applaud them,” he told delegates at the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) special congress in Benoni, on the East Rand.

Ramaphosa delivered President Jacob Zuma's speech at the congress.

He called on delegates not to silence criticism within the federation, but to hold constructive talks.

“Criticism of our movement or any leader must not be made merely for seeking popularity.

“The criticism must not cast aspersions on the dignity of our movement.”

Nehawu had demonstrated a commitment to a united Cosatu, Ramaphosa said.

Zuma had taken time off to rest following the election campaign.

An African National Congress team was tasked with helping Cosatu resolve its internal problems.

The trade union federation has been plagued by factionalism, which worsened after the suspension of its secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi for having an affair with a junior employee. Vavi was reinstated following a court ruling earlier this year.

“Efforts are being made to try and find unity within Cosatu. Cosatu should make sure its members are united,” Ramaphosa said.

Sapa