Against the background of so-far universal international union identification with the South African NUM, the Cosatu-affiliated miners' union, in the Marikana Massacre, comes this from the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF). Without pretending to information about the nature of this split, the question here again arises of the whether union internationals can be expected to identify with the workers, as distinguished from their affiliated unions and their leaders. And of whether, today, we do not require forms of labour internationalism which go beyond institutional loyalties.
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ITF condemns split in South African union
23 August 2012
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|Zenzo Mahlangu, Satawu general secretary [Photo: courtesy of Satawu]|
The ITF has expressed its strong support for the general secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) amid worrying reports of a split in the union, which it also denounced.
Responding to news of the resignation of Satawu president Ephraim Mphahlele last week to set up a rival union, the ITF condemned this “fragmentation of our largest African affiliate by a group of dissidents” and said that it was standing by Satawu general secretary Zenzo Mahlangu.
In a statement released on 21 August, ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “Weakening and dividing an important trade union at a critical time when the movement needs to remain strong and united does enormous disservice to the interests of ordinary workers. Together with the Congress of South African Trade Unions, we strongly support Satawu general secretary Zenzo Mahlangu and his national officers.”
ITF general secretary David Cockroft commented: “Where union officers have disagreements with their leaders, they must address them through the union’s own constitution and democratic processes, not by trying to split one of Africa's strongest labour bodies.”
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