COSATU'S Contested Legacy: South African Trade Unions in by Sakhela Buhlungu, Malehoko Tshoaedi

By Sakhela Buhlungu, Malehoko Tshoaedi

Deftly offering an image of a multifaceted and ever-evolving organization whose contributors are steeped within the traditions of inner democracy, management responsibility, and mandated decision-making, this quantity considers the complexities of the Congress of South African alternate Unions (COSATU). Answering questions equivalent to What do COSATU staff take into consideration their places of work, unions, politics, and financial system? Why has COSATU female participants' aid for the African nationwide Council declined? and What affects COSATU participants’ judgements to vote for a specific political party?, this account specializes in particular matters that problem the federation because it strikes forward.

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Extra resources for COSATU'S Contested Legacy: South African Trade Unions in the Second Decade of Democracy

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It was initiated with the aim of understanding workers’ conceptions of democracy on the shopfloor, within the unions, and how these conceptions extend to the broader political arena. The survey also sought to assess workers’ political attitudes and their expectations of political parties and the government that they intended to vote for. Hence, the survey was conducted prior to the national elections. Since then, the survey has been conducted every four years in the run-up to the national elections and the 2008 study marked the fourth in this series.

COSATU embodies both these approaches and thus its legacy can be characterised as a complex one that combines both resistance and reconstruction. This has been discussed above, save to say that the practices and policy positions embraced by members of the federation also reflect this complexity. Observers of the federation, and the union movement in general, should be aware of this complexity and factor it into their analyses. As we have argued above, union membership is also characterised by heterogeneity in the form of subgroups and networks, which vie with one another for influence and power.

COSATU is the only labour organisation in South Africa that has formal direct access to the leadership and decisionmaking structures of the ruling party. The federation’s location within this structure allows it opportunities to debate and challenge policy proposals and to lobby for support within the ANC structures. Furthermore, the relationship has also seen a number of COSATU members and leaders being deployed to Parliament as ANC candidates and to government positions. The rationale behind this has always been that the federation wants to take advantage of the opportunity to influence the government and policy-making from within.

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