Thus, in the years between the 1979 founding of FOSATU
, the promulgation of a reformed Labour Relations Act and the opening up of state-sanctioned collective bargaining machinery in 1980, and the emergence of COSATU five years later, there was a constant 'war of position' inside South Africa's manufacturing plants (Maree 1986: 125-30; Landmann 2006; Shafer 1979).
(the Federation of South African Trade Unions) was launched in 1979, after the Wiehahn Commission had endorsed African trade unions, and it was then that Webster and his colleagues Phil Bonner, Halton Cheadle and Duncan Innes introduced their three-week courses for trade union leadership.
Ugqoke amandl' akho okuhlakanipha Vala amasango akho FOSATU
Ngoba izitha zabasebenzi ziyakuzungeza Zifuna intuba yokungena phakathi kwakho zikuhlakaze, Oh!
implemented its policy goals through several practices.
developed a tradition of having informal committees of 'veterans' who acted as worker control committees over the activities of the shop stewards.
The culture and consciousness of shop-floor participation, once held sacrosanct by the "workerists" of FOSATU
and COSATU, has begun to dissipate.
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
adopted the living wage concept as a bargaining goal and, in scores of factories, its unions began to press for R2 per hour (Friedman 1987:211).
It seems evident, for example, that it was just such a concern that Alec Erwin, national education officer of FOSATU
, sought to raise in a suggestive recent speech entitled "The Question of Unity in the Struggle." Distinguishing between the "politics of liberation"--ever "in danger of co-option"--and the more radical politics of "transformation," he stressed the necessity for workers to begin what he termed "building tomorrow today."
The concern with factory floor issues and organization has led to charges of "economism." In the early 1980s serious divisions emerged between FOSATU
(Federation of South African Trade Unions, the major union federation at the time, formed in 1979, but rooted in the earliest industrial unions formed after the 1973 strikes), which espoused an "independent working class" position, and the newer community-oriented general unions--such as the South African Allied Workers' Union (SAAWU)--which were more closely allied with the national liberation movement and which affiliated with the UDF after its formation in 1983.
(393) This analysis is followed by a detailed account of the 'revolutionary upsurge' of the 1980s and especially of the development of the militant and democratic trade unions of the period, giving rise to FOSATU
and its successor--COSATU.
Even in the late 1970s, the TUACC inner-circle of Durban, arrogantly (for some), confidently (for others) insisted on their way, or no way, in the formation of FOSATU
. And even when their detractors like SAAWU decided to join COSATU, it was the Natal grouping that refused to comply, going on its own way.