Johannesburg - Cosatu must close ranks to protect collective bargaining, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel
said on Wednesday.
"Use (the congress) to close ranks to defend the disciplined system of collective bargaining that Cosatu helped to create," he said.
Patel, a former general secretary of the SA Clothing and Textile Workers' Union, was addressing the third day of the Congress of SA Trade Union's 11th national congress in Midrand.
Patel said the congress needed to deal with "the painful tragedy of Marikana, and its legacy for industrial relations and the mining industry".
45 people were killed in incidents relating to an illegal strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, in North West, since August.
On Tuesday, an agreement was reached between the striking workers and Lonmin. The deal was not negotiated through collective bargaining, but through direct talks with workers.
The strike was partly blamed on rivalry between incumbent union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), a Cosatu affiliate, and a breakaway union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
Patel called on delegates to use the congress to "defend all workers and the lives of workers including the Num members, some of whom continued to be killed in the last few weeks".
Lonmin employees were expected to return to work on Thursday.
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