About us

On the occasion of our tenth anniversary, when we reflect on NACTU’s ten years of existence in terms of successes and failure, this website presents the organic history of NACTU.  It is an organic history in that in writing about an organisation, it is not dates and events, but processes and programmes that lead to those events.  NACTU has gone through many battles in the never ending war for social justice and better living standards for working people. It is a never ending war as long as the economic superstructure remains a capitalist superstructure.

We strive to build a united worker movement in our country


The National Council of Trade Unions is a result of a merger between the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) and the Azanian Confederate of Trade Unions (AZACTU) that took place on the 5th of October 1986 in Broederstroom.  This merger was a sequel to abortive unity talks that took place on the 8th and 9th of June 1985 at Ipelegeng. The meeting at Ipelegeng which brought in UDF unions that were expelled in 1983 and AZACTU was intended to broaden unity. 


However, the meeting ended inconclusively as a result of clashes between the so called “Workerists” and “Populists”.   At a subsequent meeting on the 7th August 1985, CUSA was not invited but individual affiliates were invited.  AZACTU was not invited.  This was despite the decision taken on the 9th June 1985 to adjourn the meeting.  Protest from the UDF unions to the Feasibility Committee was ignored.  CUSA’s Joint Executive Committee took a decision that none of its affiliates  should attend.  The only CUSA Union that attended was the National Union of  Mineworkers.


UDF unions attended in protest.  This process brought about discussions between CUSA an AZACTU, that resulted in a merger and the formation of NACTU in 1986.  COSATU was formed in 1985 as a result of this process. However NACTU at its founding Congress committed itself to unity based on working class principles.  This commitment is enshrined in the NACTU Constitution and its congress resolutions.

Our Objectives

It is important to state some of the objectives NACTU set itself and its founding congress that we outline in Clause 6 of the NACTU Constitution to understand its role as a Federation.
  • To strive to build a united worker movement in our country

  • To encourage eligible men and women to join trade unions in order to contribute to the establishment of a broad working class movement that will defend the rights of workers.

  • To work towards the creation of a just society where there shall be political power in the hands of workers.

  • To develop effectiveness solidarity on a principle basis in our society in order to deal with all matters affecting the community.

  • To assist in the enforcement of worker rights the protection of their interests and human dignity noting internationally accepted standards.

  • To advance the economic well being social interest and working conditions of all workers.

  • To arrange seminars and courses to educate affiliates and members as to their responsibilities both as trade unionist and as members of their communities.

  • To assist members to establish workplace units to promote industrial democracy.

  • To conduct and co-ordinate research in all matters affecting workers, including the exploitative system in which workers find themselves both at factory floor and in the broad community.

These objectives though not exhaustive are in the NACTU constitution and together with the principles and policies have guided NACTU through its existence.


Mr Pat Mphela

Mr Pat Mphela


Mr Nairius Moloto

Mr Nairius Moloto

General Secretary

Edward Thobejane

Edward Thobejane

Deputy General Secretary

Caroline Rakgotsoka

Caroline Rakgotsoka