THE newly formed South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) last weekend launched its King Cetshwayo branch and elected its first committee.
There were numerous speakers at the launch, including T Tsotetsi (Secretary General of SALIPSWU – South African Liberated Public Service Workers Union), August Mbele (SAFTU Provincial Co-ordinator) and Themba Shobede, the newly elected Chairperson of SAFTU’s King Cetshwayo branch.
All went to great lengths to reiterate that SAFTU is not an anti-ANC campaign, but rather the creation of a worker-controlled organisation.
Nationwide, SAFTU comprises more than 50 trade unions, with the King Cetshwayo branch comprising seven.
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These include NEHAWU (National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa), DEMAWUSA (Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of South Africa) and NUPSAW (National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers).
Tsotetsi said there has been too much looting of the state coffers, and the workers are the ones suffering most.
‘SAFTU must be a worker-controlled organisation and is the answer to South Africa’s crises, which include corruption, unemployment and poverty,’ said Tsotetsi.
‘There must be a unity of the working class in general, and this must be an active unity movement.
‘Our movement must not be politically aligned and must ensure it does not lose sight of what the people want.’
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In just seven months, SAFTU’s membership is sitting at 770 000 and provincial leaders aim to reach one million by the end of the year.
Tsotetsi said, not only must unions remain independent from both the state and all employers, but must also remain independent within the federation, able to protest about their union-specific issues.
‘However, when one union protests against an employer, all SAFTU unions in the district must join in, in solidarity,’ he said.
‘Should any issues between unions arise, SAFTU has the authority to intervene, but in the interest of assisting and promoting unity among affiliates.’
The new committee was elected, which consists of Themba Shobede (Chairperson), Thabiso Zulu (Deputy Chairperson), Thulani Xulu (Secretary) and Xolani Mthethwa (Co-ordinator).