Unions to inspire workers

JOHANNESBURG - As South Africa prepares to celebrate Workers’ Day, trade unions will go all out to inspire confidence.

It is going to be a brutal year for organised labour. With recent worker revolts, union leaders are under pressure to deliver.

Former NUM General Secretary Cyril Ramaphosa said workers must be regarded as being the most important citizens in the country.

Union leaders in the early 1990s achieved worker protection and dramatically improved salaries.

But the need for more money has led to the birth of breakaway unions who have been making big promises.

They want the country’s collective bargaining process to be opened up.

Union federation Fedusa say this is not necessarily in workers' best interests.

Adam Habib, a political analyst, said: “For you to use the opportunity, you need to have an honest conversation.

"It needs Sidumo and Vavi to sit down and say, these are the threats that face us. This is what we need to do, we need to have the political will to make the sacrifices, we need to have the political will to challenge political authority."

But the focus on workers’ bread and butter issues seems to have taken a backseat as Cosatu leaders continue to squabble among themselves.

The union has even been accused of failing to see the bigger picture.

So as the country’s politicians and trade unions share the stage this Workers' Day, workers themselves will ultimately be the judge of whether union leaders prioritise their concerns or just use the platform to push their own political agendas.

- eNCA

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