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Jobs will be at heart of new labour federation‚ says Vavi

Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the issue of unemployment in the country would be at the top of the agenda of the formation of his new labour federation.

Speaking at the Workers Summit Steering Committee on Thursday‚ Vavi said the campaign for job creation would involve a mass organisation at the level of the work place and within communities.

“We know [the new federation] must present a credible alternative economic strategy that deals with the current crisis and deals with the transformation of the economy into one that guarantees sustained jobs‚ improved living conditions and a comprehensive social welfare system. Such an alternative economic strategy will need to be based in the first instance on redistribution of wealth to deal with inequality and unemployment‚” said Vavi.

Partnering with 53 unions‚ Vavi said they had 16 demands which were a priority to the federation. He said these demands would be met only if economic strategies were based in the first instance on redistribution of wealth to deal with inequality and unemployment.

Vavi said the backbone of the campaign will be workers who are employed and who belong to all of the 53 unions uniting behind the principle that unions should be independent. He said‚ however‚ they will not be narrow or partisan in their approach.

“We will seek to unite all workers regardless of whether they are members of the 53 unions.”

Vavi said the ANC did not “have the stomach or the inclination to take on the fight against capital”.

“[The ANC] It is wholly compromised because the interests of black capital are so tied up with big monopoly capital. Their class interests are identical: to make the rich richer. The only measure Government is able to pursue is one of compliance to BEE targets‚” said Vavi.

Besides jobs being at the heart of the federation‚ Vavi said issues such as wage policy and industrial policy were also needed to be tackled as they are critical.

He said industrial policy would have to look at revoking trade agreements that stand in the way of such a programme.

Vavi also said he won’t be gunning to be the leader of the federation as he’s been in the union federation for over 30 years.

A name for the union federation is yet to be announced although there have been at least five names that have been considered.