SAFTU congratulates workers of India and Mali on general strike action
January 11, 2019
SAFTU supports Zimbabwe general strike and strongly condemns government violence and tyranny
January 16, 2019

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) SERVICE CHARTER

  1. Under which conditions are we building SAFTU?
  2. The Quarterly Labour Force Survey of Q4 2016 tells us that a scandalous situation exists where 62% of workers either don’t get regular increases or the employer sets their increases alone.
  3. Furthermore, only 22% of wages are set through collective bargaining and a mere 8% of wages are set through centralised bargaining structures.  Only 28% of all workers belong to trade unions. This means that 72% of all workers do not belong to any union.
  4. We are building a trade union movement, a broader labour movement not a narrow trade union for wages of those employed in big workplaces and only for their safety helmets and gumboots.
  5. We are building a movement of big workplaces knitted together in a common struggle with the most marginalised sections of workers, many of whom are in precarious forms of employment.
  • A new ethos to build a truly democratic, independent and militant trade union movement in South Africa
  • We are opposed to capitalist exploitation. We commit ourselves to fight against working class exploitation. We will fight for a more egalitarian society and will oppose any forms of inequalities be the class, gender or race.
  • We will fight against any form of discrimination. We are acutely aware that we live in a capitalist society dominated by the private ownership of the means of production. 
  • We commit to doing everything to oppose and undermine the logic of class oppression and exploitation.
  • We are building a movement that will give a voice and represent the workers employed by human traffickers otherwise known as labour brokers, the workers who have been outsourced and the workers whose jobs have been unilaterally declared non-core by the bosses.
  • We want to knit together the struggles of those who receive regular salaries and benefits with the struggles of the workers in the informal sector of the economy.
  • We want to struggle hand in hand with unemployed workers, be they still in training, or are looking for work opportunities.
  • We are building a movement for the future of a South Africa that strives to meet the needs of its people and which is committed to an alternative to the world we currently live in. 
  • What it means to build worker trust once more in the trade union movement
  • Consistency in our actions to represent the interest of workers.
  • Reliability so that we become more relevant.
  • Responsibility to act both in the best interests of members and the broader working class and society;
  • Intimacy with workers’ issues;
  • The culture of laziness and paralysis must be uprooted and buried. SAFTU must represent a culture of service to members and the working class.
  • Our values and principles

As trade unions affiliated to SAFTU, we commit to providing service workers and the broader working class practicing the values as set out below:

  • Worker control:
  • Workers in any sector of the economy and public service, voluntarily choose to join a trade union of his/her choice and in accordance with the Constitution of the relevant Union contribute a weekly or monthly subscription fee to enable the Union to service the collective needs of members to improve their conditions of employment and benefits.
  • By virtue of joining a trade union, it is the membership of the trade union that democratically determine their workplace representatives (Shopstewards) and office bearers in workplaces, branches, provinces and at a national level with the following critical principles governing the elected leadership;
  • Mandating
  • Report-back
  • Accountability
    • Internal Democracy:
  • To ensure that workers who are members of the union and their federation get full democratic participation in all-decision making in their workplaces and the various union and federation structures.
  • The culture of open democratic debate and tolerance shall be at the centre of the democratic practices underpinned by democratic centralism.
    • Non-racialism:
  • The three (3) interrelated contradictions in any capitalist society revolves around class, racial and gender contradictions
  • The Federation have non-racialism as one of its non-negotiable principles.
  • The economic basis of racism is rooted in the ownership and control of within the white monopoly capitalist system and will never be eradicated without getting rid of that system.
    • Non-sexism:
  • Non-sexism must at all material times involve the struggle to address and attack the patriarchal nature of our society wherein women are reduced to subjects that can be oppressed and exploited using religion, culture and tradition;
  • The struggle for equality between men and women suggests that all workers must set aside whatever prejudices they may have and strive for unity of the exploited working class under capitalism.
    • Independence:
  • The SAFTU is a non-aligned labour movement from any political party so that it may freely criticise and campaign against anti worker, anti-working class and neo-liberal policies driven by any political party.
  • Non-alignment must not be equated to the Federation being apolitical or non-political. More than ever before, trade unions need to campaign on issues that affect workers beyond their working life – education, housing, healthcare, social security, transport, the environment, the economy and many others. All these are political matters on which the Federation must campaign.
    • Financially self-sufficient, accountable and opposed, in word and deed, against corruption, fraud and maladministration within its ranks
  • Every cent in terms of income and expenditure must be accounted for through the relevant worker controlled financial committees
  • To sustain the operations of the unions and its federation, strategies must always be in place to ensure financial self-sufficiency
    • Anti-imperialist and International Solidarity:
  • For SAFTU the principle of international worker solidarity is crucial but it must mean building genuine solidarity with fellow workers around the globe and not simply international affiliations thereby building worker-to-worker and union-to-union to links.
  • SAFTU accepts that Imperialism is the highest stage of Capitalism and must be fought in all its manifestations
    • Socialist oriented:
  • Building the capacity and consciousness of workers to struggle for a society free of oppression and economic exploitation
    • A militant and fighting working class organisation:

SAFTU shalltake forward at all material times the interest of workers through vibrant collective bargaining, confronting the logic of capital and defend workers against state policies that represents a frontal attack on workers and the working class

  • Our mission and our task
  • Worker control and democracy
  • Tolerance for different viewpoints and ideas
  • Unity
  • Transparency
  • Organisational and revolutionary discipline
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Accountability
  • Accessibility
  • Non-discriminatory
  • Working collectively
  • Commitment to the programs and campaigns of the Federation
  • Anti-corruption
  • Organisational, Education and Training commitments

6.1     The federation shall give educational support for the organisational growth of all its affiliates by giving;

  1. Labour law training,
  2. Negotiating skills
  3. Offer generic courses to ensure capacity of members in understanding the union’s constitution, the principles of the federation, the political environment we find ourselves in
  4. Training of Staff and in particular Organisers to become much more effective and capable
  5. Ideological grounding of members, staff and leadership
    1. Membership/Worker education and training     
  6. Understanding the union
  7. The power of worker control
  8. Understanding the nature and character of class war

6.3     Shop stewards training

  1. Union constitution and responsibilities of a Shop steward
  2. Political and ideological training

6.4      Organisers/Official training

  1. Legal
  2. Finance & Administration
  3. Collective bargaining
  4. Organising
  5. Education
    1. Leadership training:
  6. Chairpersons and Presidents must be trained to be better chairpersons and to inculcate democratic political management of the unions
  7. Secretaries must be trained on democratic management skills of running trade unions
  8. Treasurers must be trained on the most prudent management of the union finances
  9. Members of the committees must know their political and fiducial responsibilities to hold structures and leaders at all levels accountable to the mandate
    1. Infrastructure to provide a better service to members:
  10. Putting up call centres to receive and efficiently respond to worker queries and complaints
  11. Setting up a SMS system to facilitate mass communication to Shopstewards, officials and the leadership
  • Communication
    • SAFTU shall strive to continuously update the website such that the scope of all unions serves as a clear guide for a worker making a choice to join the union
    • We shall promote the aggressive usage of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Blog and Website as a recruitment tool and profiling of the work of the Federation
    • SAFTU shall help all unions to have their own websites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and blog sites 
    • In terms of media and publications, SAFTU shall endeavour to establish, maintain and work towards;
  • A monthly then fortnightly, then weekly newsletter based on workers’ stories
  • Launching a formal worker newspaper
  • Establishment of an online radio that will develop into a workers’ radio station working with community radio stations
  • Establishment of a TV station that will work with community TV stations
  • The Pledge

We as SAFTU affiliated members and staff bind ourselves to this SAFTU Service Charter.

  • We the members, leadership and staff of the SAFTU affiliated union commit to working tirelessly towards achieving the vision, values, commitments and responsibilities spelled out in this SAFTU Service Charter. We will constantly strive for these ideals to be realised with all our might; united in action, independent in spirit, and always in the interest of members and the working class more broadly.
    • The realisation of the commitments spelt out in this SAFTU Service Charter will require the utmost principle, commitment, discipline, and adherence to collective responsibility by all those of us who must at all times remain accountable to member mandates and in building member’s confidence in SAFTU, as a fighting, militant and revolutionary federation.
    • The SAFTU Service Charter will be placed in every SAFTU affiliated union office and organised workplaces.