“We are disappointed that they did not observe internal processes but went outside the structures on Cosatu matters,” the trade union federation said in a statement.
“We call for calm and unity in Cosatu and urge members to defend the federation from attacks aimed at destroying it.”
During their press briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday, the nine affiliates called for the reinstatement of suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and for a special congress.
They are the Communication Workers Union, the Democratic Nurses Union of SA, the Food and Allied Workers Union, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, the Public and Allied Workers Union of SA, the SA Commercial and Catering Workers Union, the SA Football Players Union, the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the SA State and Allied Workers Union.
Reading a statement on behalf of the unions, Samwu general secretary Walter Theledi said Cosatu’s denial of a crisis within the trade union federation was making matters worse.
“A review of what Cosatu was supposed to implement following its 2012 congress reveals an organisation unable to move forward in any significant area,” he said.
The unions felt Cosatu was being marginalised and ignored in its alliance with the African National Congress and SA Communist Party.
A recent example of how Cosatu’s policies and structures were being undermined was the trade union federation’s “unqualified and uncritical” endorsement of the ANC’s election manifesto, said Theledi.
The nine affiliates criticised Cosatu for not holding a special congress. They wanted the congress to be held by the end of March and wanted a new Cosatu leadership elected. If the congress was not held by then the unions threatened to take the matter to court.
In its response on Thursday, Cosatu said its central executive committee (CEC) had agreed on a process for preparing for the special national congress.
“All affiliates have acknowledged receipt of the letters about this.”
Cosatu again denied that it had leaked Vavi’s charge sheet to the media.
“We have stated that the burden of proof lies with the one making the allegations.”
Vavi was suspended last year after he admitted to having an affair with a junior employee. Cosatu handed him a charge sheet earlier this month, five months after his suspension.
The affiliates said the disciplinary process instituted against Vavi was unjust.
On the ANC manifesto, Cosatu said it had taken part in the processes of drawing it up. Cosatu held its own workshop.
“We all agreed on what our posture towards the manifesto would be, so it cannot be correct that there was no engagement within the federation on the manifesto.
“This will be further discussed at the [next] CEC.”