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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

A call to all workers: Let us all work to Build, Strengthen and Unite COSATU

29 December 2014

A call to all workers:

Let us all work to Build, Strengthen and Unite COSATU

We have now come to the end of the year 2014 which has been marked by various important and yet eye-opening events. We are about to enter into the year 2015 which will mark the 30th anniversary of COSATU.

Our past and recent experiences compel us to pause, conduct self introspection and draw lessons from all the experiences we have gone through as an organisation.

We have an option to either put our heads on the sand and ignore these experiences or use them as stepping stones to build a strong, formidable and reliable federation which will continue to be an effective instrument of class war in the hands of workers.

Under the circumstances it can be said with certainty that we have no other option but to build COSATU into a fort and castle to which workers can hide in times of attacks and use it to launch relentless attacks against the employers and all our class enemies.

The year 2015 is the year in which we should single-mindedly focus our attention on building the organisation based on an understanding that “Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programmes"

One of the lessons we carry to year 2015 is that we must refuse to have our energies and focus deviated by our detractors who shout slogans of unity when their real intention is to liquidate and destroy our organisation.

Our focus must be to unite COSATU and have it focused on doing what it was formed to do. This is to protect and further the interests of all workers, inspired by the universal slogan of working class solidarity: "An injury to one is an injury to all".

Majority rule

Given our recent experiences, one of the lessons we carry to the year 2015 is to reassert the supremacy of majority rule as the underlying principle upon which our organisation takes its decisions. In this context we will have to ensure that we reassert the authority and credibility of our constitutional structures.

We should do this by collectively defending and implementing the democratic decisions taken by our constitutional structures.

We must continue to insist that once the majority has taken the decision, all must respect and implement such a decision. If we fail to execute this task, then we should agree that we do not have an organisation.

We should insist on collective leadership at all levels of the organisation and assert this as the overarching democratic leadership style expected from all leaders and structures of the federation. Where there are deviations we should not hesitate to act against conduct which undermines collective leadership.

We should popularise the constitution of COSATU, which defines our task as to organise national industrial trade unions, financed and controlled by their worker members through democratically elected committees; unify national industrial trade unions under COSATU`s leadership; combat the divisions amongst the workers of South Africa and unite them into strong and confident working class formations; encourage democratic worker organisation and leadership in all spheres of our society together with other progressive sectors of the community.

We should deploy our resources in a manner which translate these constitutional commitments into organisational programmes.


In the process we should begin to ensure that membership engages in discussions about the constitution, including changes which may need to be effected by the National Congress derived from our recent experiences. COSATU’s constitution must be able to stand the test of any challenges which may emerge in the future.

We will need to ensure that everyone who is associated with COSATU knows and respect the principles and values upon which the federation was founded. We will have to be firm and give no space to anyone who is hell bent to undermining these principles.

This must be coupled with ensuring that every COSATU affiliates works to improve the quality of service to the workers. The presence of COSATU unions must be felt in every workplace by every employer.

The militancy and radicalism of COSATU should now be defined in practice. Words must now be translated into real action.

When we point out the wrongs in the economic policy trajectory of the country, such should be coupled with serious and implementable alternatives to be tabled in Alliance platforms and must be accompanied by real mobilisation on the ground by a united federation.

No boardroom discussions or negotiations on economic policy should ever take place outside and above the heads of our members.

Through our own conduct and how we engage employers and through tangible and practical results of our work, workers must see that there is no home like COSATU.

We will have to enforce the respect of the outcomes of all our democratic processes. This includes the coherent interpretation and implementation of the COSATU resolutions by all affiliates.

Decisions taken by our constitutional structures including the CEC and National Congress must be respected and implemented by all the leaders and affiliates without exception. We will have to be firm on this if we are to build COSATU into a fighting federation that we want.

2015 Plan and 2015 Congress

There should be no ambiguity about the fact that as a federation we remain guided by the 2015 Plan which will be reviewed in our 2015 National Congress.

Part of building the federation and implementing our resolution will be to implement the strategies outlined in our 2015 Plan.

This plan is on amongst others based on an understanding that as COSATU we also have a responsibility to act in a manner which maximises the unity of the motive forces under the leadership of the revolutionary tripartite Alliance.

Our actions must remain guided by the fact that the golden rule in a political struggle is always to isolate the most dangerous enemy, while at the same time strengthening to the maximum the progressive camp.

We must continue to clarify the point that in South African conditions, the broad strategy of national democratic struggle is the route to the most far-reaching and rapid changes in our country. It is not an unfortunate or delaying tactic; it is a broad strategy that we consider with the utmost seriousness.

It is for this reason that in our 2015 Programme we said that our tasks should include the following:

a) Defending our political gains and space. In this regard we need a strong ANC and SACP, rather than weakened Alliance partners.

This means that we must refuse to treat the ANC and the SACP at the same level as our class enemies. These are our allies and we have a responsibility to build and strengthen them.

It also means that where we have issues to raise, we should do so as part of our responsibility to strengthen these formations and we should raise such issues directly with them in platforms where we all participate such as in bilateral meetings, in the Alliance Secretariat, in the Alliance Summits or in the Alliance Political Council. To paraphrase comrade Oliver Tambo, when we speak of the SACP and the ANC, we should always know that we speak to and of ourselves.

b) We should deepen our work to establish Socialist Forums as a platform where debates on all major challenges facing the working class take place and at the same time playing a major role in delivering membership education and deepening the political consciousness of the working class on the ground.

c) We should continue with the work of building a large pool of cadres with organisational, political and ideological depth.

d) We should consciously build working-class leadership of the National Democratic Revolution, including in the ANC, the SACP and key organs of people’s power.

e) We should build a stronger civil society, especially community-based organisations, and stronger involvement of COSATU Locals in local government and mobilisation as part of the overall task to maximise unity in the people’s camp under the banner of the Alliance.


We need to spend our resources, our time and our energy communicating to members the correct policies, strategies and tactics of the federation as agreed in our various constitutional structures.

We should spend our resources in building the capacity of sub-national structures to implement the resolutions of the federation.

There is no short cut in building our federation. It needs our collective ideas, our collective energies, and sacrifices. Above all it needs observance of our founding principles and an unconditional commitment to the implementation of our policies.

We wish all workers happy celebrations as we enter the year 2015!


Sidumo Dlamini,
COSATU President,
29 December 2014