COSATU congratulates its militant affiliate, SACCAWU, on its successful 12th national congress

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) congratulates its militant affiliate, the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (SACCAWU) on its successful 12th National Congress.  SACCAWU’s Congress that took place in Benoni from 21 to 24 November under the theme “Consolidate Working Class Unity and Power for Total Emancipation”.

SACCAWU is a pioneer of South Africa’s trade union movement, with its precursor being launched in 1975 under the leadership of the legendary Emma Mashinini and Makhulu Ledwaba.  Against all odds from the darkest days of apartheid to the rise of labour broking and the casualisation of labour in the era of globalisation, it has grown from strength to strength.

Today SACCAWU with over 120 000 paid up members is the largest union of workers across the hospitality and retail sectors and has made impressive gains in the food, agriculture and other commercial industries.  It has led by example with the election of generations of strong women leaders. 

This affiliate operates in a sector marked by outsourcing and dominant monopolies, yet it has time and again won above inflation increases for its members, made inroads to improve the working conditions and benefits of workers, and acted as a barrier against retrenchments and premature mechanisation.

We pay tribute to the former leadership collective of SACCAWU led by President Louise Thipe and General Secretary Bones Skulu.  They steered SACCAWU and the sector under very trying circumstances.  They encountered many serious challenges and crises that appeared overwhelming.  Time and again they rose to the occasion and showed clarity, strength and leadership.  They led with humility.  SACCAWU is what it is because of theirs and others’ decades of service.  We wish them well in the next chapters of their lives and will continue to tap into their experience and wisdom.

We are confident the new leadership team led by President Patrick Hailani and General Secretary Mduduzi Mbongwe, themselves steeped in years of working-class struggles, will take SACCAWU to new heights.

The Federation is proud of this tireless trade union that has played its part in the liberation struggle and continues to make its mark in today’s economic turmoil.  We look forward to SACCAWU and its membership continuing to wage battles to improve the lives of its members and the working class as a whole.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687