The federation’s interim steering committee held a conference on Thursday in Boksburg ahead of its three-day launch scheduled to begin on Friday.
Led by former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, Saftu said it would “transcend the country’s trade union landscape” while taking into consideration the tension it would face in the form of the ruling party and Cosatu.
The new South African Federation of Trade Unions has promised that its launch will be a “festival of ideas” aimed at overcoming challenges facing the working class.Picture: Masi Losi
“There is a dialogue that needs to be created between the government and the working class, it is unavoidable from that view,” Vavi said.
“We will deal with it like the professionals we are, representing the agenda of our workers. In fact, we have already done so.”
“We have submitted the Section 77, which is now the subject of an ongoing engagement with the government.”
Vavi went on to criticise members of the ruling party, labelling them “political hyenas”, and not sparing the SACP’s secretary-general, Blade Nzimande.
“They are very nervous because they destroyed the trade union movement in hopes that they will never ever be ordered by the workers, and we want them to thank the Jacob Zumas and the Blade Nzimandes for destroying the trade union,” he said.
Vavi said Cosatu’s decision to dismiss the National Union for Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) was ill- informed and would come back to haunt it.
He blamed Nzimande for being central to the disintegration within Cosatu.
“Numsa and all of us would still be fighting from inside an endless fight about transforming the alliance, and fighting for a new agenda about the radical economic transformation, but the rates of unemployed and inequality would be still be worsening while inside Cosatu,” he said
“We can say to Blade Nzimande, thank you very much for referring to trade unions as ‘an irritation’ that must be surgically removed from Cosatu. Without you we wouldn’t have this platform,” he said.
Vavi said Cosatu had not been invited to the Saftu launch because Saftu had no relationship with it.
“They were not invited. We don’t want sweethearts, we don’t want dealmakers behind the backs of workers, we don’t want people who are managed from Luthuli House, we don’t want people who are paralysed by the political compromises they have been making with the elites,” he said.
He said Cosatu was completely dependent on the patronage system created by the ANC and its partners.
Vavi said Saftu had 24 unions affiliated to it, and was confident 18 others would join.
“This weekend will be a festival of ideas between the unions. Some are waiting for mandates to be given to them to form part of the federation. Eighteen other unions have actively participated in the committee and will have to receive mandates.”