Cosatu is not perfect but ANC can learn few things from it – Ntshalintshali
By Itumeleng Mafisa 50m ago
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Johannesburg – Tension and instability within the ANC have affected the struggle of workers in South Africa, says Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.
Ntshalintshali was speaking to The Star against the backdrop of a busy political weekend with the country celebrating Workers’ Day and ANC leaders set to meet to discuss the controversial step-aside rule which has created further division in the governing party.
He expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the alliance.
“The leader of the alliance (the ANC) is embroiled in its own struggle in that context and … the whole alliance will be impacted one way or another.
“We can’t say things are going well. The leader of the alliance is struggling, and it has an impact because our members are in that organisation and it impacts workers and even the Communist Party.”
Ntshalintshali said the ANC had to put its members first and realise that leaders come and go, but the organisation remained.
While Cosatu was not “perfect”, Ntshalintshali said the ANC could learn a few things from the federation.
“The ANC must respect its own resolutions. We cannot tell them what to do but any organisation that goes to a congress and takes a resolution must live by the decision that they take. We can’t tell them what to do – they are an independent organisation – (just) as we will not want them to interfere with our resolutions.” Ntshalintshali challenged ANC leaders not to renege on their congress resolutions.
“When you take a resolution, don’t take it because it is fashionable at the time. Take it to be honest and work with integrity and give workers the confidence that if their leaders are involved in some activity, they must take action. We have gone through our own process and where people have been found with their hand in the tin, they have been dismissed.”
He said Cosatu had proposed a reconfigured alliance because the instability in the alliance was even affecting collective bargaining.
Commenting on the current wage deadlock between the Department of Public Service and Administration and public sector unions, Ntshalintshali said workers should defend their rights even if it meant going on strike.
“We have to fight in the streets, we have to fight in the boardroom, we have to fight in court too. Some will say workers need to defend themselves. Workers don’t go on strike because they want to go on strike. It’s about survival. They can’t kneel and pray,” Ntshalintshali said.
He said the federation was still relevant in South Africa despite some saying that it had lost its influence as a champion for South African workers. In the past few years, the federation has also lost two unions, the National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa) and the Food and Allied Workers’ Union.
“The struggle for workers has not changed. We are developing another strategy. The victories of workers are not permanent, they change all the time as the system of capitalism and exploitation also changes form. The struggle continues. In our view there will be no stage for any trade union to come and say we have achieved what we wanted to achieve.”
The federation had also lost members to job losses and retrenchments.
“The potential is there. We gain members every day but we also lose more members to retrenchments and dismissals. Almost all sectors have lost jobs but the membership of Cosatu remains consistent.”