A COSATU organised protest in Cape Town calling for an end to state capture and for affiliates of cosatu prosecution of those involved in the administration of President Jacob Zuma. It was founded in 1985 and is the largest of the country’s three main trade union federations, with 21 affiliated trade unions.
On 30 Nov 1985, 33 unions met at the University of Natal for talks on forming a federation of trade unions. To establish one union for each industry within six months. To focus on the exploitation of women workers. To call for the lifting of the state of emergency, withdrawal of troops from the townships and release of all political prisoners. To continue the call for international pressure, including disinvestment.
To demand for the right to strike and picket. To determine a national minimum wage. To extend the struggle for trade union rights in the homelands. The COSATU congress decided in 2012 to affiliate with the class-struggle oriented World Federation of Trade Unions, while maintaining its membership within the International Trade Union Confederation.
During the 2016 congress that was held in Durban, Michael Mzwandile Makwayiba, president of COSATU affiliate NEHAWU Michael Mzwandile Makwayiba was elected President of the World Federation of Trade Unions. 6 May 1987 a strike as part of COSATU’s Living Wage Campaign was held coinciding with 1987 General Election. 5 million workers took part in the stay-away. On 7 May 1987, in the early hours of the morning two bombs exploded near the support columns in the basement of the federation headquarters, COSATU House.
16 July 1989, a resolution was adopted that called on the members of COSATU to «join a campaign of sustained action against apartheid» in the week leading up to the 1989 General Election of South Africa. The following affiliated unions have suspended their participation in COSATU due to the expulsion of the National union of Metalworkers of South Africa. The following union has been expelled by COSATU. COSATU after a vote at a special central executive committee had been convened resulting in a 33-24 vote in favour of the expulsion.
On 6 November 2014, an urgent legal application by NUMSA to prevent the special central executive committee from being convened was postponed by South Gauteng High Court, thus allowing the meeting to take place. On 10 November 2014, 7 unions announced they were voluntarily suspending their participation in COSATU’s decision making bodies due to the expulsion of NUMSA and called for a special national congress to be convened. Irvin Jim described the expulsion as «a dark day for workers». COSATU is part of an alliance with the ANC and the South African Communist Party, called the Tripartite Alliance. COSATU’s role in the alliance has been the subject of debate, since the organisation has been critical of some of the ANC government’s policies. AIDS in the world, with a 2005 estimate of 5. 5 million people living with HIV — 12.
The trade union movement has taken a role in combating this pandemic. Notwithstanding the formal alliance of COSATU with the ruling ANC party, it has been at odds with the government, calling for the roll-out of comprehensive public access to antiretroviral drugs. The wheel in the logo represents the economy. The gold colour of the wheel represents the wealth of the country. The figures pushing the wheel, consisting of two men and a women carrying a baby, represent the challenges that workers face namely, racial and gender oppression as well as economic exploitation. These figures are black as they represent the black majorities struggle against racial oppression. The figures are holding a red flag that represents the working class.