EFF leader Julius Malema has made clear his party’s intention to create its own labour union when he addressed a May Day rally in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, on Sunday.
An EFF union is inevitable, Malema said, adding that the party’s “extremely busy” labour desk was a great grounding in preparation for such a union.
“That union will never sell out. That union will always be on the side of the workers,” Malema said.
“We are preparing to do a union, and not a Mickey Mouse union, who is in cahoots and in bed with the employer,” he said.
Malema said that through its labour desk, the EFF has been helping workers irrespective of their political party affiliation.
The labour desk is situated at the party’s headquarters and is led by EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhalipi, which allows for walk-ins by workers experiencing issues.
“The labour desk of the EFF is doing very well. It is fighting battles day in and day out,” Malema said.
He said the party’s labour desk’s intervention was constantly being challenged in court due to it not being a union.
“You know what they've resorted to now? Every time the EFF goes to intervene, they take us to court and say we’re not a union. We are fighting whether we are a union or not. As long as a black person is exploited, we are going to fight with those who exploit black people,” Malema said.
The party’s intended labour union is expected to push the EFF’s policy position of insourcing workers, especially in municipalities and government departments.
Malema also took on the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), saying that the EFF union would be much bigger than that.
Cosatu, which also hosted its own May Day event in Rustenburg earlier on Sunday, was forced to call it a day after angry workers disrupted the proceedings.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was forced to abandon the national May Day rally in Rustenburg after angry Sibanye-Stillwater workers disrupted the proceedings and refused to allow him to speak.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) – the two biggest mine unions in South Africa – have demanded a pay increase of R1 000 per month over the next three years, similar to the amount Sibanye’s rival Harmony Gold agreed to pay its workers last year. When Ramaphosa arrived to address the rally, he was booed and disrupted. When more and more workers started approaching the stage, coming within metres of Ramaphosa, his security quickly ushered him away marking an abrupt end to the rally.