As early as May we knew that the honeymoon was over when Zwelinzima Vavi told a press conference that Zuma better hold on to Polokwane gains and election promises (that included abolition of labour brokers) if he still wanted their (Alliance) support. Labor brokering is on every ones lips right now for all the wrong reasons. I have known about labour brokers since 2003, I think the first real job that my wife got was through a labour broker which I never understood how they work. She did not pay anyone to get that job and she was not expected to pay any thing, in fact her relationship with that agent ended when she got the job.
Labor broker are causing a lot of harm to the unemployed as they hire and fire as they wish and they have become employers themselves. The ANC U-turn on the banning of labour broker infuriated a lot of COSATU heavy weights. At the same time the ANC is carefully using Blade Nzimande and Gwede Mantashe as a buffer zone to test and keep in check the hostilities in the Alliance and they are doing a sterling job at pulling wool over workers. They were the loudest in the latest COSATU 10th national Congress held at Gallagher estates. They seem to be oblivious to the fact that for COSATU this is about survival hence they want to hang on to the soldiers as their members.
Over the past 15 years COSATU has lost a lot of members in the private sector. This has weakened COSATU heavily in the private sector and the main culprits are labour broker and casualisation as big business try to hang on to their hefty profits whilst spending less and less on labour. The only sector that has kept COSATU going is the public sector. They can’t afford to lose South African Security Forces Union SASFU instead they want to robe in South African National Defence Union SANDU and the doctors in their books. It does not look like is about workers right to me ,but is about survival.
Most interestingly during COSATU congress in Gallagher estates, NUM members who work for Murray and Robert in one of the mines in Rustenburg wanted to gate crash the Congress to give Vavi they grievances because the NUM had failed them. They told me they were kicked out of their hostel by hired prison inmates and now they live in tents provided by the municipality in that city. As they were plotting to storm the gathering NUM national leaders were busy pleading with them not to do so.
This came in the heals of another attack on NUM officials in the same city, but from a different mine. As we speak one of those leaders who were attacked by their own members is still in hospital. Num is one of the biggest unions in COSATU and these events tell us that unions are becoming easy on employers to keeps number of member high. How do you explain a scenario where workers turn against their leaders?