FOSATUFederation of South African Trade Unions
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As we will see below, however, once the FOSATU union had won over a majority of the largely female and African workforce at the Frametex cotton mill, Frame management suddenly demanded that the five factories be considered as a single unit when it came to recognition.
By the time the possibility of registration opened up to the NUTW in 1980, the growing numbers of African women workers, the expansion of the unregulated sector of textiles, and the TWIU's agreement to a differential wage scale and enforced overtime for women in the woollen industry had all weakened the TWIU's ability to represent female textile workers at Frame (Hirsch 1979: 32-3; Maree 1986: 184) and enhanced the appeal of the new FOSATU union as an alternative.
Most of the attention paid to the NUTW-TWIU rivalry has focused on the protracted legal wrangling fought out between Frame and the FOSATU union in the courts, with an eye to examining the ability of the new unions to use the newly established Industrial Court to bolster their position in the workplace and in the industrial relations machinery (see, for example, Friedman 1987: 340-1; Kraak 1993: 141).
FOSATU affiliates accounted for over 70% of those agreements (Maree, 1987: 7-8).
For example, FOSATU had leveraged the organizing space provided by state recognition of independent unions to compel the state to legalize nonracial unionism.
FOSATU developed a tradition of having informal committees of 'veterans' who acted as worker control committees over the activities of the shop stewards.
What the unions were trying to achieve in the 1970s and what lay behind the thinking of the intellectuals was well expressed in 1979 by Alec Erwin, then general secretary of FOSATU.
So what we were trying to build in TUACC, and are presently trying to achieve in FOSATU, is that the democratic structure must be through a process of the factory controlling the shop steward because that man the worker sees every day in the plant, his access to him is far greater.
A crucial question for this article is the extent to which the democratic structure and ethic of accountability built up in FOSATU unions during the 1970s at the level of the shopfloor had remained intact by 1994.
This "workerist" tendency of FOSATU does not stand alone in the camp of the independent trade union movement.
By the end of 1984 three distinct groupings had emerged: the "unity talks unions," largely industrial unions from FOSATU and CUSA, together with some independents; the unions affiliated to the UDF, the most important of which were the general unions; and the more recently formed AZACTU unions, which adopted a hardline black consciousness position and included several additional general unions.