Patrick Craven: No cause for celebration today

Former Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven says today’s May Day rally is no cause for celebration.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)’s May Day rally underway. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - As Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)'s May Day rally gets underway in Durban, former Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven says today is no cause for celebration.

Referring to high levels of unemployment in the country, Craven says divisions in the union are regressive and are a direct attack on the workers' movement.

Last month, he announced his departure from the trade union federation after serving the federation for nearly 15 years.

Despite his resignation, Craven says he is still working towards the principles that Cosatu has established.

"We have big campaigns now, opposition parties and employee organisations weaken the movement when it needs to be strong. They are trying to capitalise on what is a weakness and we have to fight back against this. It's urgent to try and reunite the movement."

Thousands of the federation's members have marched to the Gugu Dlamini Amphitheatre at the workshop in Durban where President Jacob Zuma is expected to address the masses there.

'MAY DAY NOT FOR COSATU ONLY'

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has told thousands of workers at its May Day rally that today does not belong to Cosatu exclusively and a new home for workers must be built outside of the African National Congress (ANC).

Numsa has been joined by members from eight other Cosatu unions at its rally in the Johannesburg CBD which is being held separately from a Cosatu rally in Mohlakeng.

There are about 5,000 people at the Standard Bank arena, many of them wearing t-shirts with the slogan 'Don't mourn - organise'.

This is a reference to Cosatu's decision to expel Numsa and Zwelinzima Vavi who the eight tarde union federation's affiliates continue to support.

Numsa's president Andrew Chirwa says the current Cosatu leaders insist on pledging their unconditional support to the ANC while the ruling party continues to fail them.

He says workers must fight harder than ever before for an independent federation.

Chirwa says workers need a movement that is not compromised by business relationships between bosses and union leaders.