Cosatu's 9th National Congress derailed
By Tarryn Le Chat
19 September 2006
The start of Cosatu’s 9th National Congress was derailed by two hours yesterday — by a court order, a cleaning company and striking workers — amidst concerns of a serious health crisis which could affect delegates.
Addressing the delegates at the start of proceedings, Secretary–General Zwelinzima Vavi explained that affiliate union Satawu (South African Trade and Workers Union), had pointed out that a cleaning company had been contracted by organisers to ensure the venue and toilets remained spic and span.
However, a month-long cleaning strike produced a court order prohibiting strikers from being anywhere near non-protesting workers.
This meant that Satawu delegates present, who were from the cleaning sector, would be in breach of that court order if the company cleaners remained on the premises.
As applause echoed from delegates, Vavi expressed his views saying, “We have asked the company to leave now.”
Vavi told delegates that it would have been seen as intimidation and that Cosatu was working with Satawu to find an alternative.
However, Vavi explained that there might be a problem as the company had been asked to leave and no one was cleaning the facility, as there were more than 3 000 delegates who would all be using the toilets.
“We may experience serious health crisis”, said Vavi.
Cosatu has pledged their solidarity with Satawu and those of its members in the cleaning sector who were on strike.
Vavi appealed to employers to settle the strike before the end of the congress on Thursday.