Cosatu membership grows

The trade union federation says it now represents about two million workers.

A group of protesters gather outside Cosatu headquarters in Johannesburg on Friday, 24 May 2013 after the march against e-tolls was cancelled. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Friday said its membership has grown by 500,000 people over the past five years.

The trade union federation now represents around two million workers.

On Thursday night, the Centre for Conflict Resolution in Cape Town held a debate on the future of trade unions in the country.

Speakers included respected journalist Terry Bell and Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich.

Ehrenreich says while Cosatu has grown significantly, it must hold a congress soon to sort out its internal issues.

"The only way in which the organisation will be able to maintain itself is to ensure that the congress is held."

He admits unions have become bureaucratised.

"The cars that we drive are way too fancy. The perks of the general secretaries are excessive."

Cosatu has been involved in a bitter internal dispute following the suspension of its secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi.

He was suspended in August after admitting to having an extra-marital affair with a junior staff member.

Vavi has vowed to fight his suspension, saying he did not break any Cosatu rules.