Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe has called on trade unions to fulfill their roles in the creation of a capable developmental state.
Speaking at the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu)’s policy conference, Mantashe explained that the union’s members are at the coal face of the functions of the state, making them the vehicle for the delivery of the desired developmental state.
Nehawu is the biggest public service union in the country.
Gwede Mantashe said trade unions must work with government to ensure the aggressive implementation of set targets meant to improve the economy, among other responsibilities.
He further explained that if Nehawu and other unions do not play their role of being progressive leaders in the state, then the country is in trouble.
Mantashe also warned Nehawu that it should avoid relegating political issues to collective bargaining structures where administrative worker issues are tackled.
Nehawu is affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions(Cosatu), which is in an alliance with the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party.
Gwede Mantashe did, however, reassure Nehawu leaders that should they feel that issues in the workplace were of a political nature, they should reach out to the party’s leaders in government through Cosatu.
The federation has long been criticised for its relationship with the ANC with some unions and commentators, saying it compromises the interests of workers in wage and working conditions negotiations.
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