Johannesburg - Ongoing protests across the country are a ticking bomb about to explode, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Thursday.
"Nineteen years later in a democracy we are becoming [the] protest headquarters of the world; we call that a ticking bomb about to explode," he told delegates at the SA State and Allied Workers' Union congress being held in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.
He said the majority of people, especially in the townships, "cannot take it anymore" and are living in "grinding" poverty and unemployment, hence the protests.
"Where I come from in the Eastern Cape, unemployment is almost 80%. People are waiting for that day when their human dignity would be restored."
The country's number one enemy was unemployment.
"It is a crisis. At least four out of 10 people are unemployed."
He said the Congress of SA Trade Unions wanted what was spelt out in the Freedom Charter.
"The Freedom Charter states that people shall share in the mineral wealth that is beneath the soil, and that the monopoly industry would be transferred to the people," he said.
"This is all we want, we don't have a grudge against anyone..."
Vavi said the economy should be restructured and stop relying "heavily" on exports and instead rely on the manufacturing industry.
"These are the conditions that we as Cosatu should be struggling against... we have to unite all trade unions and the alliance as a whole to lead society on the basis of what is in the Freedom Charter."
Vavi appealed for unity in Cosatu and its alliance partners.
"A Cosatu weakened by internal divisions would not unite the rest of the country. A divided Cosatu will not engineer what we called the Lula Moment, because it will all be about a comrade hating another comrade.
"Independence is important; you should have that right to determine your destiny, and not give it to someone next door."
Cosatu also wanted legislation on a national minimum wage to be implemented next year, he said.
Trade unions within Cosatu were discussing the National Development Plan.
The trade union federation would announce its official position regarding the NDP next week, Vavi said.