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Saftu distances itself from Cosatu’s nationwide strike action

Picture by Steve Lawrence.

Picture by Steve Lawrence.

Published Jul 5, 2023


Johannesburg - The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) will not be part of Cosatu’s nationwide strike action on Thursday.

This was revealed by Saftu’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, in a letter written to Cosatu’s general secretary Solly Phetoe.

Vavi expressed concern about Cosatu’s alleged failure to postpone the strike action until a later date, to allow all parties to agree on a common programme of action.

Cosatu has called for strike action to protest against the growing unemployment, rising food cost and growing retrenchments in workplaces across the country.

Unhappy with the planning and alleged lack of consultation, Vavi wrote to Phetoe, saying Saftu would not join the strike “not only because of the short notice or because Saftu was not combat ready, nor because we have no finances to support a strike, but because Saftu believes that Cosatu was not genuine about unity”.

It said the consideration was that if Cosatu were genuine, it would have convened its special central executive committee to consider the recommendations Saftu made, including the postponement of the national strike; and the consideration of a bottom-up approach, starting with convening the workers summit and building the working class summit led by the working class.

A call for a general strike would be part of a sustained programme of mass mobilisation and general strikes supported by all four federations.

“Saftu cannot support a pure Cosatu agenda which is not based on any political foundations, such as an analysis that is necessary as to where the attacks of the working class are emanating from. Saftu analysis has always been that the working class is under attack from the capitalist system, which is ably assisted by its shop stewards in Parliament led by the ANC with the enthusiastic support of the Democratic Alliance.

“Cosatu is not playing a different role in this context. It is thus contradictory when it seeks to mobilise the working class against these attacks and simultaneously vows to mobilise the same workers to vote for the ANC, which embodies the attacks on workers and the continuation of the status quo,” Vavi wrote.

He said that distinguished Saftu and made his union an alternative voice of the working class.

“Saftu must protect its political independence and identity by not submerging its programmes into those of Cosatu or any other formation fighting to maintain the status quo.

“In rejecting the call to join the strike, it must be emphasised that Saftu is not abandoning its calls for unity of the working class or its non-sectarian approach to the struggles of the working class. Neither should it be considered that Saftu does not take the issues raised by Cosatu seriously,” he said.

The Saturday Star