Fighting and Defending Workers' Rights Since 1985. COSATU was launched in December 1985 after four years of unity talks between unions opposed to apartheid and committed to a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. At our launch we represented less than half a million workers organised in 33 unions. Trade unions are independent organisations that represent workers to their employers. If you join a trade union, you are joining a group that will negotiate workplace issues such as salary, hours of work, and other conditions, on your behalf. Workers who join a trade union have the benefit of being part of an organised group who pull together around workplace issues. Topics ranging from paid maternity leave to salary increases to safety in the workplace are all dealt with as a group. You don’t have to tackle them on your own, as an individual. You also stand to get better protection from unfair treatment and victimisation and increased job security.