TRADE UNIONS’ RELAVANCE DEBATED
By: Mbuso Kunene
The University of South Africa (UNISA) in partnership with the Sowetan Dialogues held a discussion about trade unions’ relevance at the Durban Jewish Club on Tuesday.
The debate emerged on the issues like the Marikana Massacre where unions are reported to have “failed” workers.
The Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) President Sdumo Dlamini said that workers need unions to represent them at work.
“Trade unions are still relevant for the workers, they still need to be aligned to the more demand of workers in South Africa,” Dlamini said.
Dlamini added that it is important for South African workers to belong to a union.
However, Joseph Maqhekeni, National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU) president’s views differ from that of Dlamini.
Maqhekeni said that unions only benefit those in power and they do not discuss issues affecting workers on the ground.
“Unions are indeed disappointing the majority of working people,” added Maqhekeni.
He further linked unions with Marikana massacre saying that the unions failed to support their members which led to the death of 34 workers.
Thabani Mzobe, a petrol attendant at Caltex garage in the corner of Monty Naicker Road and Sylvester Ntuli Road, has been a member of the National Union of Metalworkers of South
Africa (MUMSA) for over three years.
Mzobe said that a union is very important to him as a worker, yet sometimes the union sides with the employer.
“Our needs as workers are not met often and we hardly communicate with our representatives to voice out the working conditions at work,” he said.
Sukumani Mbambo joined the National Security and Unqualified Workers Union (NASAWU) in 2006 when he started to work as a security guard. He shares same views with
“When it comes to salary incensement, the union usually failed to negotiate for us with an employer,” said Mbambo.
Dlamini urged South African workers to exercise their right by being registered members of any union, saying that only 30 per cent of workers are unionized.