Members of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) picketed outside the Annual Summit of the National Economic Development and Labour Council, (Nedlac) on Friday.
This comes as Nedlac was hosting its Annual Summit at Emperors Palace, Ekurhuleni, where more than 270 delegates from business, community, government and labour constituencies of council were in attendance. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the keynote address.
In a statement, Saftu said it was protesting against delays from Nedlac over its right to affiliate to Nedlac and the submission of a notice under Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act to allow for protected strike action on socio-economic issues.
“Nedlac has stonewalled the federation’s application to affiliate to Nedlac, despite it being the second biggest union federation. We will use all legal avenues open to us to challenge this attempts to continue cutting deals behind the industrial proletariat,” Saftu acting spokesperson, Patrick Craven said.
Six unions affiliated to Saftu had submitted a notice to Nedlac in December last year under Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act in support of demands for an end to the job loss bloodbath and rising poverty for the creation of a new economic growth path centred on creation of jobs through industrialisation of the economy.
But now they accuse Nedlac of frustrating their submission, saying the employer body was trying to deny their right to take protected strike action.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has also expressed dissatisfaction with the way Nedlac handled its section 77 application to protest against job losses in the mining industry which was declined.
Making the issue more contentious was the recent granting of a Section 77 strike certificate to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) to protest at the Union Buildings, calling for an end to State capture and corruption.
Saftu said that this was a deliberate policy to favour Cosatu and frustrate non-Cosatu unions as their notice was only filed in July.
The federation was also protesting against the national minimum wage of R3 500 a month signed at Nedlac by big business, government last year.
Hundreds of protesters were seen carrying placards and chanting struggle songs and slogans outside Emperors Palace led by Saftu general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi.
Some placards read: “No to slavery of R3 500, not to cutting deals behind our backs”, “Nedlac must stop cutting deals behind workers back”, and “R20-million for a Buffalo: R20 for a long hour’s work”.
“Saftu however will not be deterred and we shall continue to mobilise the workers on a general strike in November 2017 and convene a Peoples Conference on the crisis facing the country in December,” Craven said.