Today's Labour News

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cosatuIn a comprehensive analysis, Amy Musgrave writes that labour federation Cosatu has come out of its 13th national congress emboldened by the idea that things can only get better and at some level this is true.  

Cosatu has hit rock bottom over the past six years with many self-inflicted wounds.  Also, the economy has not been kind to workers and, by extension, to unions.  The federation has lost thousands of members to retrenchments, casualisation or workers simply concluding that they can no longer afford to pay union dues.  Superficially, there are encouraging signs.  For the first time in its 32-year history Cosatu has a woman as its president and Zingiswa Losi has vowed that her elevation will lead to an increased focus on women’s struggle for equality in the workplace.  Tackling such struggles may boost Cosatu’s appeal to potential members.  Women make up an increasing proportion of the workforce but have lower levels of unionisation than their male counterparts.  Moreover, Cosatu’s Young Workers Forum is meant to come up with ideas to attract younger workers into the labour movement.  But, these potential recruits are often in jobs and workplaces that old-style unions are battling to understand, let alone organise.  

Indeed, the elephant in the conference hall was the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and the unfathomable changes it is already bringing to the world of work, systems of production and the very notion of what a "job" is.  Musgrave observes that the federation has not even scratched the surface in understanding the changes the world is living through in the early 21st century.  She goes on to analyse the challenges and responses by affiliates.  She concludes that at this point “it becomes clear that no matter how much Cosatu may seem to have hit the bottom, it is possible to go down further still.”

Read this insightful analysis at Financial Mail

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