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COSATU condemns violence at Lonmin and breakaway ‘union’ NATAWU
16 August 2012
A special meeting of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Congress of South African Trade Unions was today given a briefing by its affiliates NUM and SATAWU on serious developments within the trade union movement.
COSATU is appalled at the latest violence at the Lonmin Mine and surrounding areas, which today claimed a further 18 lives at the Wonderkop squatter camp.
According to a SAPA report, police tried to disperse striking workers gathered on top of a hill, wielding pangas and chanting war songs. It ended in a three-minute shootout between the two groups, after police fired teargas and then used a water cannon to disperse the strikers, who retaliated by firing live ammunition at the police. A reporter at the scene said he counted 18 bodies
The federation extends its condolences to the families and friends of all those who have lost their lives in this latest violence and reiterates its call for workers to observe maximum discipline and unity in the face of a ruthless attempt to divide and weaken them. The CEC pledged its full support the National Union of Mineworkers’ efforts to resolve this situation.
The CEC also strongly condemned the breakaway ‘union’, NATAWU, led by the former President of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) Ephraim Mphahlele.
In particular the CEC condemned its use of violence and intimidation, and the illegal use of the COSATU logo, to give the entirely false impression that they are linked in some way with the federation. We will seek an urgent interdict to stop this use of COSATU’s logo.
COSATU confirms that SATAWU is its only affiliate in the transport, security and service sectors. The federation has no connection at all with NATAWU and urges all workers in the workplaces organised by SATAWU to remain loyal to their union.
The CEC agreed to convene an urgent meeting of the unions’ leaderships to discuss what is emerging as a co-ordinated political strategy to use intimidation and violence, manipulated by disgruntled former union leaders, in a concerted drive to create breakaway ‘unions’ and divide and weaken the trade union movement.
COSATU calls upon all workers to remain vigilant but calm in the face of the most serious challenge to workers’ unite and strength for many years.
Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
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