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Workers need unions for negotiations – Vavi

Cosatu’s Zwelinzima Vavi says miners negotiating for themselves is not a sustainable solution.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi laughs while hugging President Jacob Zuma at the trade union federation's 11th national congress at Gallagher Estate in Midrand on 17 September 2012. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

MIDRAND - Despite a wage dispute resolution in Marikana, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says having employees negotiate without unions is not ideal.

News of the settlement broke on Tuesday evening, while the Cosatu congress was in session at the Gallagher Estate in Midrand.

Leaders however said nothing about it to delegates.

It was only after the congress had adjourned for the evening that Vavi spokes to journalists about the wage increase for Lonmin employees.

He described it as a victory for ordinary workers.

The five-week illegal strike by Lonmin employees ended last night, after management at the Western Platinum mine and striking employees agreed on a 22 percent overall increase.

Vavi said Cosatu was pleased the difficult period had come to an end, but warned that workers negotiating without their unions was not the way forward.

"The issue of them negotiating for themselves is not sustainable in the long run."

Yesterday's deal was the second offer by management since the beginning of the strike.

Miners previously boycotted wage negotiations with unions, management and other stakeholders.

They accused unions of not having their best interests in mind and metaphorically sleeping in bed with mine bosses.

Meanwhile, Cosatu has called for a commission of inquiry into the history and current state of the mining sector.

The trade union federation's conference continues today.

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