Congress solidarity message to COSATU
The triennial conference of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) opens today in Johannesburg. Membership is still growing – breaching 2 million since the last conference in 2009 – although not as fast as the union movement wants. Over three thousand delegates will gather at Midrand for four days of discussion and debate.
Until very recently, it was assumed that the main issue would be the build up to the ANC conference later in the year which is due to consider whether to re-endorse or replace Jacob Zuma as its Presidential candidate. Now, the shadow of the Marikana mining strike hangs over the conference. In essence, both issues are proxies for the deeper debate that will run through the conference: what sort of society is South Africa turning into? How come inequality is still so rampant, twenty years after the overthrow of apartheid, and what can the trade union movement do about it?
Last week, the TUC Congress unanimously adopted a statement of solidarity with South African mineworkers and unions proposed by Sally Hunt – UCU General Secretary – on behalf of the General Council. It’s a message of solidarity that TUC Assistant General Secretary Kay Carberry is taking to COSATU in person, as the TUC’s sororal delegate to their conference. You can follow the debates online – at one of the most important conferences South Africa has staged in a generation.