The new trade union federation said on Friday it stood by its name, South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and said it was ready for the challenge by rival Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) over the name.
Saftu steering committee chairperson Raymond Mnguni said Fedusa was part of the initial talks to seek a “worker-controlled” federation and a workers’ summit.
“The steering committee was elected from all unions that participated. Fedusa was part of the historical meeting in September 2016 where we agreed on a worker-controlled federation, but left almost immediately after establishment of committee, without making any written commitment and backed away,” Mnguni said.
“By the way, they’re taking us to court, so we say we will meet them in court over the name Saftu.”
Fedusa has objected to the Saftu name and requested that a different name be adopted. Fedusa reportedly said that the Saftu name close resembles theirs. Mnguni added, however, that delegates could opt to change the name Saftu if they saw fit.
Other federations such as the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) and Solidarity, also took part in the talks, also followed suit after Fedusa and “retreated and stopped participating,” said Mnguni.
Mnguni relayed how the federation was mooted and the travelling across the country by the committee, mobilising unions and workers that sought a non-politically affiliated federation that would be controlled by workers.
He said the launch of the new federation was a historical moment, and that hard work lay ahead for the workers.
“We must rise above petty squabbles that often characterise relationships between unions and federations. Our country, our continent, indeed the workers across the world are faced with huge problems…we need to be a beacon that attracts all workers, regardless of their any affiliation back to the front line of the class struggle.”
Guests at the launch included former Congress of South African Trade Unions leaders Jay Naidoo, Mbazima Shilowa, student activists Bonginkosi Khanyile and Mcebo Dlamini. They would all address the gathering.