Two reports by Natasha Marrian today suggest that all is not well in the union movement.  Apart from arrests during a Samwu meeting of top leaders there are also splits in a number of unions such as Ceppawu, Sadtu, Numsa, Nehawu and Satawu (twice).

Read the full reports by the political editor first published by Business Day on BDlive today:  Unions splinter as money and politics snare leaders and Satawu splits for second time.


PICTURE this: a meeting of an organisation’s top leaders proceeds peacefully, until the Hawks storm in — armed with R-5s and handguns to arrest three top officials for graft. It was not in a smoke-filled room of organised criminals that the arrests took place on Tuesday. It was in a union central executive committee meeting.

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At the centre of the tumult are two key features: the increasing intolerance of dissent in Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)-aligned unions and money, to put it simply. A group in the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union that has been agitating for the union to be placed under administration is waiting for the outcome of a three-month process in which the organisation is meant to produce financial statements for the past four years and ensure that it holds a leadership meeting.

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THE South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has split for the second time in three years, prompting the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) to set up a task team to deal with the bitter fights within many of its affiliates.

The Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union and the South African Municipal Workers Union are also facing deep divisions, mainly over the former’s R4bn investment company and a R50m corruption scandal in the latter.