Cosatu is under threat, says Vavi
Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi has warned that splinter unions, fat-cat shop stewards and corrupt leaders threaten to weaken the federation and betray workers.
Speaking at Cosatu's Western Cape congress in Bellville yesterday, Vavi said members needed to be vigilant in the face of forces bent on destroying the organisation's reputation.
"Consistently we have to wage battles to defend ourselves and the working class in general ... with the growing number of splinter groups."
In reference to the recent resignation of SA Transport Workers Union president Ephraim Mphahlele, Vavi said Mphahlele had made all manner of false allegations of financial irregularities in the union.
He also claimed there was an assassination plot against him. Mphahlele resigned early this month to join splinter group, the National Transport Allied Workers Union.
Vavi said that there were many weaknesses within the federation, including the presence of shop stewards who were using their positions purely for financial gain .
He said that it was frightening that 10% of workers alleged that they had witnessed corruption.
"We must not make the mistake of thinking Cosatu and the unions are immune from these battles," he said.
Vavi said that the power of the unions was being undermined by a lack of focus and thateducation in the unions was no longer on the scale that it had been in the past.
Union representatives were not carefully selected.
"Only 6% of workers know the president and general secretary of their unions. "
Vavi lashed out at political parties, ministers and cabinet officials who "falsely" claimed solidarity with the plight of workers.
"These [people] have never joined us for a moment [to improve labourers' working condition," he said.