UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

COSATU 'on a dangerous downward slope' - ANC Secretary General

Yesterday, ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe`s addressed COSATU's Collective Bargaining Conference. The challenging and self critical speech examines the role of a national union federation, industrial unionism, union/worker relationships and draws parallels for COSATU with the internal divisions which have beset and weakened the ANC in recent years:http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?ID=7043

'Unions are divided into two categories, sector unions and general unions. Sector unions are focusing in specific sectors while general union organise any worker who approaches them. Sector unions develop specialised skills for the particular sector and that becomes a source of strength. A general union is a jack of all trades but a specialist of nothing.

'This debate characterised the unity talks when negotiations were underway, for the formation of COSATU. The decision was that was taken and became one of the founding principles of the federation was that sector unions will serve workers better, captured as “one industry, one union.” This principle was elucidated further by emphasising the importance of solidarity among unions by forming the federation, captured as “one country one federation'

'The federation must first confront the question of whether it is promoting its founding principles. When there are more than one union in a sector they compete and in the majority of times fight for membership and the right to represent workers in the sector. During this competition the employer exploits the divisions and even fund and resource the inter-union fights. When there are two COSATU unions in a sector the situation is even worse because they share experiences in the federation and use the same strategies to undermine each other'