Johannesburg - Trade union federation Fedusa expressed concern on Friday over the state of organised labour in the country.
"[We] are very worried about the way things seem to be going in organised labour during the past [few] weeks," Federation of Unions of SA general secretary Dennis George said in a statement.
"Issues like inter-union rivalry, political debacles and sex scandals are defacing our movement and damaging the much-needed work we have to do in our young democracy."
Fedusa called for an urgent meeting between it and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu).
George said a letter to this effect had been sent to Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini and Nactu president Joseph Maqhekeni.
"Trade unions are there to represent the interests of their members, and not to become involved in politics and side-shows," said George.
"We are there to protect workers, and that is our first and foremost mandate.
"The moment we become distracted by this and embroiled in power games, we have lost the plot."
George said the trade union federation did not receive a response from Cosatu or Nactu at the time the statement was issued.
The letter was also copied to the National Economic Development and Labour Council executive director Alistair Smith.
Nactu general secretary Narius Moloto said his federation had received the letter.
"We have agreed to the meeting and are now working on a proposed date."
Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said the federation did not receive the letter.
"We can't comment until we receive it," he said.
Cosatu announced on Thursday last week that its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi had been put on special leave pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing into an affair he had with a junior Cosatu employee.
The woman last month accused Vavi of rape. He admitted to having a consensual affair with her. She subsequently withdrew a sexual harassment complaint against him.