A Global Gathering of Unionists – but What of Cosatu’s Woes? [analysis]

Cape Town is currently playing host to “the largest global gathering of trade unions ever to take place in Africa”. There was something slightly surreal about the opening ceremony of the UNI Global Union’s World Congress on Sunday, where glowing tributes to the history of South Africa’s labour movement conveniently omitted the current state of chaos within Cosatu.

The reason why the UNI Global Union is holding its congress in South Africa this year, as delegates were repeatedly reminded on Sunday, is to mark the 20th anniversary of South African democracy. The year 2014 is also the 29th anniversary of the formation of Cosatu, though there’s little to celebrate at the moment for a trade union federation riven by internal fighting. Is the timing of this international gathering a little awkward for the powers that be in South Africa’s labour movement?

Labour analyst Terry Bell expressed it best. “There will be one publicly unspoken question among the more than 2,000 delegates to the UNI Global Union congress that starts in Cape Town on Sunday,” Bell wrote. “Why is the South African labour movement apparently intent on destroying itself?”

The friction within Cosatu is being watched “with horror”…

Source : Daily Maverick