“We are fighting for the soul of our own federation… which is Cosatu,” Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) president Atwell Nazo told reporters in Johannesburg.
The seven unions’ decision followed the expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) from the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) during a special central executive committee (CEC) meeting which ran into the early hours of Saturday morning.
Democratic Nurses’ Organisation of SA (Denosa) general secretary Simphiwe Gada said the unions would not form another federation separate from Cosatu.
In the meantime, the seven affiliates would immediately suspend their participation in Cosatu’s CEC – its decision making body.
“We must fight this Ebola in Cosatu,” said Gada.
The suspension would last until each union held either a national executive committee or CEC meeting where they would get mandates from their members on the way forward.
The meetings were expected to take place in the next two to three weeks.
Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola said that despite attacks on Numsa, the other unions are not prepared to allow the “paralysis” to continue.
“With immediate effect we are suspending our participation and co-operation in Cosatu board room/palace politics,” said Masemola.
This was part of the unions’ campaign to reclaim Cosatu, said Masemola, who considered the expulsion unconstitutional.
Cosatu’s CEC is made up of general secretaries and presidents of affiliates and the trade union federation’s national office bearers.
The other five unions are the SA Commercial Clothing and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu), the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), the SA State and Allied Workers’ Union (Sasawu), the Public and Allied Workers Union of SA (Pawusa), and the SA Football Players’ Union (Safpu).
Numsa had presented its argument to Cosatu on why it should not be expelled, but this did not stop its ousting by 33 votes to 24.
Masemola said the unions would continue to call on Cosatu to hold a special national congress.
“We are renewing our calls for a special national congress believing it to be the only way of dealing with the degeneration of the federation…”
He said the unions would mobilise workers around the country to demand that the special national congress be held and would also pursue the matter in court.
Numsa and the seven unions had on numerous occasions called for the congress to be held but Cosatu dismissed their requests.
Masemola said: “There can be no Cosatu without Numsa.”
The seven unions believed Numsa had been victimised and treated unfairly by Cosatu’s leadership.