History of Labour Movements in South Africa

Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU)

The Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU) was the first South African trade union federation that organised mostly Black employees that aimed to be a national, non-racial umbrella organisation that could coordinate Black trade union movements. It came into being after the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) and Federation of Free African Trade Unions (FFATU) disintegrated in the 1960's. It had 12 partners representing 45 000 workers.

The organisation aimed to ensure that its partners were democratic and that leaders were elected from the working class. This approach encouraged the development of properly organised, democratic trade union movement in South Africa. FOSATU remained removed from affiliation with political parties, unlike SACTU, who joined forces with the African National Congress (ANC) and the FFATU, who aligned themselves with the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC). This has been construed as a deliberate attempt to ignore political and community issues and has resulted in FOSATU being described as concerned with "bread and butter" issues only.

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