Vavi: Cosatu has a lot to answer for

Zwelinzima Vavi says Cosatu is responsible for the public’s negative perception of unions.

Cosatu house in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Picture: Janice Healing/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Organisers of South Africa's first-ever workers summit says the decrease in the number of people joining unions every year is the biggest tragedy facing South Africa's labour movement.

The workers summit will be held this weekend where 3,000 delegates from 50 unions will discuss the need for an independent labour federation to unite the country's workforce.

Only 26 percent of South Africa's workforce is currently unionised, while there are already 187 registered unions, and 300 more waiting for approval from the Labour Department.

Convenor of the workers summit Zwelinzima Vavi says fragmentation of the labour force is the biggest threat to worker unity.

"All of them in search of unity that can means we can reach out to that seven million plus as soon as we can."

Vavi says Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) is responsible for the public's negative perception of unions.

"Unions have been discredited by the biggest association in the country by its association with political parties."

The summit has invited worker federations Nactu, Fedusa and Cosatu as well as a host of other independent smaller unions.