Veteran trade unionist and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)’s first general- secretary, Jay Naidoo, says the fragmentation of trade unions has weakened the voice and power of workers.
The labour federation is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1973 mass workers’ strike in Durban.
The strike saw thousands of black workers who were non-unionised protesting against low wages and poor working conditions.
At the time, some workers were earning as little as 85 cents a week for long hours.
Naidoo says it is important for labour federations to unite to champion workers’ rights.
“The real question is in this period of transition, we need to be completely united. But unfortunately the union movement in South Africa has become more fragmented than it was in my time. I think an absolute priority of the trade union movement today, is the unity between the different federations. Secondly, we have young people today and young people remember are looking at what do they benefit from trade unions. Why should I pay my subscription fee if the union is not going to do enough for me to protect my rights?” asks Naidoo.
Cosatu commemorates the mass workers’ strikes in Durban 50 years ago: