On 1 April 1997, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) was established with a membership of around 515 000, becoming the second largest federation after the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). The establishment of FEDUSA came about when the Federation of South African Labour Unions (FEDSAL) and the Federation of Organisations Representing Civil Employees (FORCE) merged with an aim create a more powerful independent union federation outside of the tripartite alliance. FEDUSA describes itself as a multiracial organisation and a non-partisan federation. Nonetheless, it has notably attracted more white members and pro-capitalist white collar workers than other federations. Currently, FEDUSA boasts over 700 000 members and is the second largest union federation in the country. In November 2016, at the federation’s sixth National Congress, six new National Office Bearers (NOBs) were elected. At this Congress, Godfrey Selematsela, took over from Koos Bezuidenhout and became the new president who pledged to serve the next five year term.

The federation’s trade union affiliates have historically taken a conservative approach to wage demands. FEDUSA affiliated trade unions prefer deliberative negotiating means as opposed to strikes and militant means of protest. In 2015, the government offered a 4.8 percent wage hike to public sector workers, but FEDUSA advised affiliated trade unions representing workers from the public service sector to rather accept a 1 percent pay rise. FEDUSA justified their proposed figure for wage increases on the fact that the public sector is under too much strain to provide increased wages. In stark contrast, COSATU demanded a 10 percent wage hike.

Merger with other unions

In 2006, FEDUSA aimed to merge with the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU) the Confederation of South African Workers Union (CONSAWU) to establish a larger umbrella federation that would be separate from COSATU. The name of the new federation would be the South African Confederation of Trade Unions (SACOTU). If the three federations would have merged in 2005 it is estimated that SACOTU would have had about 1.1 million members. This would make it a significant union federation, and a strong rival to COSATU.

In 2007 FEDUSA and NACTU agreed to form SACOTU together. By 2014, while SACOTU was formally a trade union federation, an agreement had still not been reached over details of the merger. Effectively the two federations FEDUSA and NACTU were operating as distinct entities although they formally merged in 2007.


FEDUSA has 23 affiliated trade unions:

• Airline Pilots Association of South Africa (ALPA-SA) • Care Centre, Catering, Retail & Allied Workers Union (CCRAWUSA) • Construction & Engineering Industrial Workers Union (CEIWU) • Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) • Independent Municipal & Allied Trade Union (IMATU) • Insurance & Banking Staff Association (IBSA) • Internal Staff Association (ISA) • Jewellers & Goldsmiths Union (J&GU) • Millennium Workers Union (MWU) • Mouthpiece Workers Union (MPWU) • Motor Transport Workers Union (MTWU) • National Democratic Change & Allied Workers Union (NDCAWU) • National Security and Unqualified Workers Union (NASAWU) • National Teachers Union (NATU) • National Union of Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Commercial, Health and Allied Workers (NUHRCCHAW) • National Union of Leather Workers (NULAW) • Professional Transport Workers Union (PTWU) • South African Communications Union (SACU) • South African Parastatal & Tertiary Institutions Union (SAPTU) • South African Typographical Union (SATU) • Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU) • United Association of South Africa (UASA) • United National Public Servants Association of South Africa and Allied Workers Union (UNIPSAWU) • United Private Sector Workers Union (UPSWU) • United Transport & Allied Trade Union (UTATU)

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