JOHANNESBURG, Thousands of workers have welcomed the launch of a new independent trade union federation in Thembisa, east of Johannesburg, on Sunday.

The group’s leaders have warned that there is a lot of work ahead, however, before the proposed new labour federation is able to get off the ground.

Former Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the unionists would need to double their efforts if their proposed union federation is to succeed.

This weekend’s workers’ summit convened by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) and Vavi agreed that there is a need for a new trade union federation.

Meanwhile, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (Amcu) president, Joseph Mathunjwa has warned that the intended new trade union federation must not be used to settle scores against Cosatu.

He said it should rather focus on advancing the interests of the workers.

Mathunjwa was speaking in Orkney near Klerksdorp in North West, where his union held its May Day celebrations.

“It’s not a bad thing, to consolidate workers, under one banner, that will be very militant. It’s not a wrong idea, a federation that is not aligned to any political party, a federation that will push the programme of socialism in its true sense.”

Vavi was expelled from Cosatu in March last year for his opposition to the expulsion of Numsa, which was then the biggest affiliate of Cosatu, from the labour federation. Cosatu, the largest labour federation in South Africa, is aligned with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and the South African Communist Party in the Tripartite Alliance.