Picture of Saftu leadership at media briefing in Johannesburg. Picture: Noni Mokati /Independent Media

Johannesburg - The newly launched South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) says it is intent on protecting workers rights at all costs. Reporting back on the federation’s first national executive committee meeting, Saftu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi on Monday said the reason why unions were no longer fashionable to workers was because they have failed to stick to their mandates – the promotion of workers rights.’

“Unions have neglected to address the real reasons why they exist which is to protect workers against the abuse of per by management, defend the jobs of workers and to fight to improve wages and conditions of employment. We intend to be different from others on this front,” he said.

To do this, Vavi said the federation will be embarking on a major recruitment campaign which it hopes to increase its unions' membership by a million workers every year. He said the campaign is targeted at hundreds and thousands of workers employed in the service industry such as fast food, restaurants, casinos and entertainment.

“We also need to respond to the members of unions in other federations who have inundated us with requests to join Saftu unions. Many are sickened by the worrying collaborations between sweetheart unions and employers who are attempting to block our emerging democratic and independent unions,” he said.

Not only is Saftu determined to triple their numbers within a specified period but the union also wants to bulldoze the policies that already exist such as the proposed national minimum wage and to end the job loss carnage it says the country is facing in the public and private sector.

“We shall demand that Nedlac scrap the deal to pay workers R3 500 on 1 May 2018,” said Vavi. He added more resolutions taken by the NEC was to demand the legalization and regulation of illegal mineworkers (Zama Zamas).

Vavi said in light of the recent Welkom mine disaster which resulted in the deaths of 40 illegal miners, Saftu top management was shocked that the issue has not been prioritized by the government.

“The employment of Zama Zamas should be decriminalised and these workers be employed with the same rights as other employees. Saftu also supports the idea of community mining cooperatives within a nationalised mining industry,” he said.

The federation is set to join Amcu in commemorating the 5th anniversary of the deaths of 36 striking miners in Marikana in the North West.

Politics and Development Hub