The Sunday Independent
1 September 2013
What do shop stewards really feel?
A controversial study of the divisions in Cosatu’s support for President Jacob Zuma has been released this week as the federation and its allies met for its summit discussing the state of the alliance en route to the elections.
The study had been commissioned by political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki through his think-tank, the Forum for Public Dialogue, early last year.
But it sparked outrage in the later half of the year when part of the study was released before the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.
The premature release led to a bitter feud between Mbeki and political analyst Prince Mashele, who was the chief executive officer of the forum.
At the time Mashele claimed most of those polled did not support the re-election of Zuma as ANC president at Mangaung.
However, official results of the study released this week showed that there was a split among the workers over Zuma being retained as president.
According to the study, 43 percent of those polled believed Zuma should remain president, while 36 percent felt that his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, should take the reins.
The study was conducted by the Community Agency for Social Equality and represents the views of 2 052 Cosatu shop stewards across the country.
It was done between July and September last year and was a follow-up to a similar study conducted by Cosatu in 1992.
The Sunday Independent has collated some of the other interesting findings from the study.
Workers’ views on corruption
90% of the shop stewards polled felt that corruption was increasing.
81% felt that too many people in government are corrupt.
78% felt that Corruption Watch (Cosatu’s corruption-fighting unit) would enhance the fight against corruption.
74% felt that the South African police were corrupt.
71% felt that there was corruption in some of the unions.
According to the study, the perception among shop stewards was that the Communication Workers Union (CWU) was the most corrupt.
At least 80 percent of the shop stewards felt that way. Next was the Chemical Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) and the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), which 80 percent of the shop stewards thought was corrupt.
Breaking union corruption down into provinces, the polled shop stewards felt that graft was worst in the Northern Cape (83 percent), followed by Limpopo and North West, which both scored 76 percent. Corruption, the shop stewards felt, was lower in the Free State, which garnered 60 percent of the votes.
Workers’ views on society
74% of the shop stewards felt that trade unions worried more about worker issues than about societal issues.
68% of shop stewards said that if there was a national economic crisis, workers had to be protected before unemployed people.
46% felt that society came before workers.
20% said that when teachers were on strike, government could force teachers to go back to work.
20% felt that when teachers are on strike, learners’ interests are less important than those of teachers.
Their views on strikes
82% felt that non-striking workers should be “engaged with” politically to convince them to join the strike.
71% felt that violence is not acceptable but that non-striking workers should be taught a lesson in nonviolent ways.
56% felt that strike action yields results.
46% felt that when there is a strike, non-striking workers have a right to work.
38% felt that non-striking workers should be left alone to work if they so decided.
24% felt that there were times when it became necessary to use violence against non-striking workers.