Unions demand Cosatu special congress

Johannesburg - Cosatu has received a notice from eight of its affiliated unions demanding a special national congress, the trade union federation said on Wednesday.

“This has raised a new challenge for Cosatu at a time when the African National Congress task team is currently seeking to resolve internal problems within the federation,” spokesman Patrick Craven said in a statement.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven. File picture: Masi Losi. Credit: Independent Newspapers

He said the Congress of SA Trade Unions' national office bearers (NOBs) would seek legal advice and discuss the matter during the federation's central executive committee (CEC) to be held from May 26 to 28.

“The special CEC of April 8 agreed to put all items on the agenda in abeyance in order to allow the ANC intervention a chance to succeed, and the NOBs have called for all the affiliates to respect and honour this special CEC decision,” he said.

During its last meeting in April, the CEC was meant to discuss the National Union of Metalworkers of SA's (Numsa's) response to Cosatu on why it should not be suspended or expelled, and the disciplinary process against general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Vavi, who was suspended from the trade union for having an affair with a junior employee, returned to work on April 7. He was put on special leave in August last year, pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing relating to the affair.

Following Vavi's suspension Numsa, an ally of his, lodged an application in the High Court in Johannesburg challenging the decision.

Cosatu has been split between affiliates supporting Vavi and those supporting his suspension.

The metalworkers' union had also gone against Cosatu by deciding not to support the ANC in this year's general election and called for a Cosatu special national congress so that new leadership could be elected.