2016 Workers Summit

The Workers Summit and its call for concrete steps to be taken towards the launch of a new, militant, independent trade union federation, laid the basis for a massive growth in popularity of the moves towards workers’ unity.1500 trade union representatives, representing 52 unions attended the Summit . In addition 22 civil society organisations attended as observers. The Workers Summit agreed on the principles listed below.

  • Independence: Unions must be independent from employers (in the private and public sector) and from political parties. This does not mean that unions are apolitical.
  • Worker control and democracy: Unions must be worker-controlled and practise democracy, accountability, transparency and be tolerant. Within the federation affiliates must have autonomy but not independence, but differences of opinion must be tolerated.
  • Non-racialism and Non-sexism: Unions must fight for the maximum unity of all workers and reject all divisive and negative sentiment such as xenophobia etc.
  • Financial self-sufficiency, accountability and opposition, in word and deed, to business unionism, corruption, fraud and maladministration within its own ranks and in society as a whole.
  • Anti-imperialist and Internationalist: Unions must place a high priority on international solidarity.
  • Socialist orientation: Unions must be ready to engage in the transformation of our societies to counter capitalist exploitation, inequalities and poverty.
  • Militancy in Fighting for the Working Class and the Poor: Unions must be ready to actively campaign for change, and made links with all of the oppressed South Africans.
  • Effective Organisation and Representation: Unions must organise in the most effective manner to represent workers and serve their interests.
  • Solidarity with all workers in struggle for better wages and conditions or to save jobs
  • Support for workers exposing corruption, e.g. Prasa and Midrand municipality

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Drive by the Steering Committee

The Steering Committee was tasked with implementing the mandate of the Workers’ Summit of 30th April 2016. It invited all federations minus COSATU to the launch of the new Federation, as well as a large number of unions that are currently operating outside of any trade union federation. The reason for excluding COSATU is that it is simply not an independent federation. Despite the retreats of FEDUSA and NACTU, we made history by having 40 unions participating and supporting the unity process. To be able to bring together 40 out of the 182 registered trade unions has been no small achievement.


The SAFTU logo

  • Red flag represents the blood, sweat, suffering and tribulations of workers under a capitalist system
  • The worker hoisting the red flag represents the industrial proletariat which forms the majority of workers in South Africa
  • The woman in red raising her fist represents white-collar workers, women and professional workers
  • The worker holding a hammer in red represents young workers across the economy and society
  • The yellow wheel represents the economy in which workers produce its wealth yet the social surplus is appropriate by a tiny minority
  • Black South African map represents our country South Africa which is part of the Africa continent whose majority citizens are the black people who were colonised and discriminated against by the apartheid system