Johannesburg - Two out of every three workers in South Africa are not
part of a union, Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary
Zwelinzima Vavi said on Thursday.
"South Africa has a trade union
density rate of 30%. We have a huge task ahead as a federation,
especially amongst the most vulnerable and exploited workers," Vavi said
in a speech prepared for delivery at the National Union of Mineworkers
(NUM) collective bargaining conference in Johannesburg.
This was the problem facing Cosatu when it came to collective bargaining, he said.
mining sector had the highest union density of 78%. "Which, perhaps, is
part of the explanation for Amcu’s [The Association of Mineworkers and
Construction Union] desperation to win members away from NUM," he said.
"But that still means that out of every four workers, there is still one that is not organised into any union."
Apart from farmworkers and domestic workers, the construction sector had the lowest number of unionised workers, at 12%.
Vavi said Cosatu needed the NUM to help recruit members into other affiliates.
strength in numbers across all sectors we are not going to succeed in
our task of improving wages and working conditions," he said.
Cosatu and its affiliates had to put effort into defending workers in disciplinary cases and in wage bargaining.
for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration statistics showed that only
46% of the cases referred to arbitration by Cosatu affiliates went in
favour of workers, said Vavi.
"Our members have indicated that
they are reasonably happy with the way in which unions are taking up
disciplinary cases, health and safety issues, retrenchments... racism,
discrimination against women, and supporting people living with
"But our members are not satisfied with the outcomes of
wage negotiations, or with skills development... or our support for
temporary and casual workers... or with our fight for better child
care," he said.
"What our members are telling us is that we have to pull up our socks in all areas of service."
said it was also of concern that a third of Cosatu members across all
affiliates claimed there was corruption in their union. 12% said they
had seen it.
43% percent of NUM members believed there was corruption and 20% said they had seen it.
whether or not this statistic is a reflection of reality is not the
point. If such high numbers of members think there is corruption, then
we must be worried about trust," said Vavi.
The unions could not
call on the government to take action against corruption and then ignore
it when it was happening in their own house.
"We must accept
that where trust is low, relationships in the organisation, and the
organisation itself, becomes unstable. Transparency in all matters of
money in our affiliates is a must," he said.
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