Cosatu will not help Zuma out

Cosatu   president  Sdumo Dlamini addresses the media at COSATU House today. Pic Martin Rhodes 04/06/2009. © Business Day
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini addresses the media at COSATU House today. Pic Martin Rhodes 04/06/2009. © Business Day

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma's allies in Cosatu have refused to intervene and call off members of the labour federation who wreaked havoc in cities across South Africa yesterday.

Striking members of the 150000-strong South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) brought municipal services to a standstill throughout the country.

They are demanding a minimum wage of R5000 a month and an across-the-board increase of at least R2500 a month.

Though members of the labour federation and its political brain, the South African Communist Party, hold influential positions in Zuma's government, Cosatu said it supported the strikes.

Its president, Sdumo Dlamini, said the labour federation had heard Zuma's appeal for his administration to be given a chance to deliver on its promises, but they were not prepared to intervene to end the nationwide protests.

He said the labour federation's friendship with Zuma should not be used to blackmail it.

"You cannot, for instance, expect a municipal worker who gets paid R2500 a month to be patient and happy with his salary under current economic conditions."

Last week Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told a congress in Durban that the federation could not afford to be seen as a "sweetheart" of the Zuma administration.

"If we were to do that we know what will happen: our members will lose faith in us, we will no longer be relevant."

Yesterday, Cosatu said it supported Samwu's demands.

"[This] is totally justifiable and we urge the employer, Salga, to return to the negotiating table with an improved offer to ensure that the dispute is resolved as quickly as possible.

"Cosatu also supports the demand for the immediate filling of vacant posts in order to reduce unemployment and improve service delivery to our communities," the labour federation said.

"Cosatu calls on all its members to join the protest marches being organised by Samwu," it added.

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