Union members during a protest in Johannesburg. Fawu is poised to split with Cosatu, sources say. Picture:  REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO
Union members during a protest in Johannesburg. Fawu is poised to split with Cosatu, sources say. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

THE Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) said on Friday it would inform Cosatu of its disaffiliation by Monday at the latest, while taking legal advice on the issue of millions of rand in outstanding affiliate fees.

The affiliate that organises across SA’s agricultural sector concluded its national congress in Limpopo on Friday, focusing largely on tripartite alliance politics.

Fawu general-secretary Katishi Mashemola said on Friday that deliberations on the exit from Cosatu had taken up the bulk of the four-day conference.

The conclusion of deliberations on issues facing workers in the agricultural sector would be deferred to the next national executive committee meeting. The notice of disaffiliation would be given by the latest on Monday, he said.

Fawu is also to seek legal advice on money owed to labour federation Cosatu. The union did not dispute the amount, but there were a number of issues requiring legal advice. "If our lawyers say we must pay, we will pay," he said.

Cosatu on Thursday said Fawu had not paid affiliate fees to the federation for more than nine months — about R5m — and that the federation had gone further in supporting the union financially.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said on Thursday Fawu had given every indication it wanted to be expelled by Cosatu, including boycotting meetings in 2014.

"We are not surprised by the decision, but we are currently planning to meet ... many Fawu members, including provincial structures that have made it clear to the federation that they are not leaving the federation. The reality is that Fawu is a victim of a polarising leadership that has worked hard to split an already weakened union for their narrow political reasons," Cosatu said.

Fawu — along with eight other unions — had opposed the 2015 expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and had widely been expected to join a still forming alternative federation.

"The decision to leave Cosatu is now done and dusted. The congress further said in the wake of such a decision we need to work with other unions, including (Numsa) and independent unions, and work towards launching a new federation," Masemola said.