Vavi: Workers need an independent labour federation

Representatives of 50 unions have gathered in Boksburg to discuss the establishment of the federation.

FILE: Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNEBSURG - The Convener of South Africa's first ever workers summit Zwelinzima Vavi says workers need a new labour federation that is independent and not politically influenced now more than ever.

Representatives of 50 unions have gathered in Boksburg to discuss the establishment of the federation, which will represent the majority of the country's working class.

The unions are calling for more transparency and accountability from labour movements.

Vavi says South Africa needs a labour federation that will fight for the working class.

"The unions must be about the interest of workers in the workplace as well as in society."

He says most federations that have been established in the country have lost side of their objectives.

"The fragmentation of the unions has not translated into more power for workers."

The 50 unions gathered there today represent over a million of the country's working class.


The former Cosatu secretary general says South Africa's trade federations have long forgotten about their mandate, and if things are left as they are, the principles of putting workers first are at risk.

Vavi says trade unions should be self-sufficient and practice transparency and accountability.

"Yes, we want the unions that understand that they can never exercise force their democracy if they are not self-sufficient."

He says South Africa's working force has been fooled by federations that didn't consider the best interests of workers.

"That's why only 24 percent of workers belong to unions. This is a disaster."

Delegates have been making proposals on the principles and objectives of a new labour federation.