According to yesterday’s report by the political editor of Business Day, Cosatu has failed to adapt to changes in  the labour market and ‘continues to view society through the lens of party politics — us versus them’.   Cosatu and its affiliates need to be grappling with mechanisation, restructuring and a younger workforce.   According to the report Cosatu ‘simply lacks the will to drive the necessary change, or rather, its focus is wholly on palace politics in the tripartite alliance, which inevitably boils down to personal ambition’.

Natasha Marrian’s article Cosatu’s leaders must move beyond palace politics, first appeared in BDlive on 17 October 2014 and makes interesting reading, and is especially relevant for personnel managers who have agreements with trade unions affiliated to Cosatu.

Extracts from the article

THERE will be no dramatic changes to our body politic emanating from the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu’s) central executive committee meeting next week.

The African National Congress’s (ANC’s) intervention on the eve of the May elections has finally ended and its report is set to be presented to the federation’s central executive committee on Tuesday.

The report may or may not be accepted by Cosatu’s top brass.

The intervention was never going to be a panacea for the long-standing and deep divisions in the federation.

Cosatu has not yet hit rock bottom, although it largely appears so in public.   But its unions are on the slow march in that direction unless the affliction of the mother body filtering down into its structures is not halted.

. . . .

Cosatu called for a “mind-set change” at its bargaining conference, saying this should have a “greater focus on expectations of members in the workplace”.   It is bizarre that a trade union federation would require a “mind-set change” to focus it on the very reason for its existence.

Cosatu resolved at the same conference that its unions should “reinstate” workplace general meetings.

Yes, it is correct that most unions do not have general meetings with workers.   But it may also be because many unions are in business themselves through their investment arms, leaving their bosses with little time for that pesky inconvenience called worker issues.

. . . .

The present impasse between factions in Cosatu actually provides it with the perfect opportunity to go back to the drawing board and reconfigure itself organisationally to adapt to SA in the present day.

But there is no indication that it is honest enough with itself to do so.