The affordable education loan option
Johannesburg - Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi may yet submit to disciplinary hearings over the office sex scandal that led to his suspension, despite vowing last week to fight the move in court.
His lawyer, advocate Dup de Bruyn, said on Friday that no final decision had been taken on whether to take the matter to the Labour Court and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, as Vavi had indicated he would, or submit to the Cosatu process.
“We are very carefully considering all options,” De Bruyn said.
Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said he couldn’t say when the disciplinary hearings decided on by a special meeting of the federation’s central executive committee would begin.
“As you know, we’re under strict instructions. This is an internal matter, we cannot discuss the details,” he said.
This calls into question whether the process will be concluded in time for Cosatu’s next scheduled meeting of the central executive committee in the middle of next month, when a decision on Vavi’s fate was expected to be made.
In the meantime, unions on either side of the rift over Vavi have gone on the offensive, following accusations by the Vavi-aligned National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) that Cosatu was “paralysed” by its internal divisions, and that leaders were putting their political ambitions ahead of workers.
Numsa, which has expressed a vote of no confidence in Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini, whom Vavi has accused of circulating a bogus intelligence report designed to smear him, is out on strike in the motor industry and has reportedly threatened to split from the federation.
On the other side of the divide, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has issued a notice of its intention to begin a strike in the gold and construction sectors from Monday.
The NUM is also fighting a rearguard action against its loss of membership to rival union the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.
There are fears that competition among unions will limit the space for compromise in wage talks and intensify strike action, contributing to a sharp drop in the rand exchange rate.
The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) said on Friday it was “very worried” about the state of organised labour, and had called for an urgent meeting between itself, Cosatu and the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) to discuss the issue.
Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said issues like “inter-union rivalry, political debacles and sex scandals” were “defacing our movement and damaging the much-needed work we have to do in our young democracy”.
He had sent a letter to Dlamini and Nactu president Joseph Maqhekeni asking for the meeting, adding the trade union federation had not yet received a response from Cosatu or Nactu.