It was hailed as an historic event, nine South African trade unions have convened a shop stewards council in Durban in preparation for what they describe as "a new home for workers in South Africa".
Billed as a Workers Parliament, 1,300 shop stewards in KwaZulu-Natal Province Sunday discussed the programme of action for the new trade union federation with the convenor, Zwelinzima Vavi, a former General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), currently the largest labour federation.
Vavi said existing federations were aligning themselves more with employers than employees and that the new body would look after workers who had been neglected.
"This is not a Vavi venture; this is not a Numsa (National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa) venture, Cosatu (venture) and this is not one union angry venture," added Vavi, who noted that the number of unionised workers in the country continued to drop.
"Whereas all unions representing 45 per cent of workers in the economy in 2007, which was the highest point in terms of the union penetration. In 2016, unions are only now representing 24 per cent -- from 45 per cent to 24 per cent."
"It means that 76 per cent of all workers in South Africa are outside the trade unions. The unions are not relevant to them. The unions are useless to them. The unions are not acceptable to them. The unions are not cool, to use the youth lingo."
The new federation is expected to be officially launched next month.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK