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Vol 50 No 12

Published 12th June 2009

South Africa

This time it will be different

Trades unionists and Communist activists are pushing their leaders to take on government as the recession bites

Just days after President Jacob Zuma’s 3 June State of the Nation Address on accountability in government and jobs for the people, the trades unions hit back with calls for wage rises and the sacking of the Governor of the Reserve Bank. The leader of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Zwelinzima Vavi, and his counterparts are caught between their new friends in the African National Congress government and the high expectations of union members that this time the relationship with the ANC government will be different. A strong supporter of Zuma over the past five years, Vavi is determined to make the new order work. Union leaders and their members prefer Zuma to his rival and predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, but expect some fierce battles ahead over policy and public sector pay. Many public sector unions are poised to strike in the coming months should negotiations in the current wage round fail. T

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