A Cosatu March in Durban this week.
A Cosatu March in Durban this week.

It's a crying shame how the labour unions' power has diminished

Time of article published Oct 10, 2020

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Editor’s Note by Mazwi Xaba

I found myself doing a double take on Wednesday morning as I took out the garbage.

Everything seemed normal. It was a beautiful day, with the sun showing up after being on strike for days and everyone going about their normal, or new-normal, morning routines.

It didn’t seem like there was going to be a national shutdown or stayaway.

But I wondered for a moment, knowing the power Cosatu once wielded, whether the collectors’ truck would show up or this essential worker would have to take the refuse bags back in later.

In the end, there were marches here and there, but there wasn’t anything like a shutdown or stayaway. How the mighty have fallen!

I’m not celebrating but mourning the demise of the unions.

On Wednesday, you wouldn’t say that all the big four federations had teamed up to shut the economy down.

So what if they’re dying? They are proving less and less useful to their members and society anyway.

The trouble is that our economy needs strong unions to function properly.

It also needs strong sector organisations, strong police and so on. Otherwise we’ll keep watching labour issues festering and simmering until they explode into something like the Marikana tragedy.

And this week, we almost saw another Marikana outside the Senekal Magistrate’s Court in the Free State.

Police Minister Bheki Cele needs to commend his men and women in blue for handling the situation with calm, wisdom and discipline.

The Independent on Saturday

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