Our Policies

Throughout the existence of NACTU a number of policies and resolutions were taken on various issues to fulfil its constitutional mandate. As NACTU entered various phases of South Africa’s social economic and political development, appropriate measures were adopted to fit the different situations.

The following are important policy positions that NACTU took at its founding congress and subsequent congresses.

Political Party
National Liberation struggle

NACTU resolved to work with all liberation movements and organisations in the quest for the establishment of a non-racial, non exploitative, non sexist democracy.

In this regard NACTU met with ANC in London in 1987, PAC in Harare in 1987 BCMA in 1988 in Harare and the New Unity Movement in Johannesburg in 1989 calling for a broad front to defeat Apartheid. With political turmoil NACTU participated in various campaigns including rent boycotts.

Its members and leaders went through arrests, detention and even death in the fight against Apartheid.

4.1.5 Constituent Assembly

NACTU at its 1990 Congress called for the establishment of a constituent assembly based on proportional representation based on one person on vote to draw the constitution. NACTU attended the Patriotic Front Conference in Durban with this mandate.

It is now history that this was achieved.

NACTU called on its members to vote in 1994’s general election and the 1995 local elections to ensure democratic transformation.

Policy on relations with other trade unions

NACTU adopted three policy positions in relations with other trade unions as guidelines

4.2.1   Trade union unity 

NACTU from its inception adopted a resolution on unity and in 1994 elaborated on mechanism to attain unity.

NACTU called and will continue to call for unity based on the following principles.

  • Worker Control

  • Non-racialism

  • Independence from government, political parties and religious grouping

  • Financial Accountability

4.2.2   Unity in Action

  • 1988 LRA amendment and the 1995 LRA

  • VAT Campaign

  • Stayaways against Apartheid regime

This is viewed at NACTU as important but not substitute for genuine unity.

4.2.3   Solidarity

Practical solidarity as a worker Federation to other union workers and Federations whom we may have differences with is of critical importance to bring NACTU closer to the unions workers and Federations.  NACTU in 1987 gave material and moral support to POTWA during the postal strikes.

After the bombing of COSATU house, NACTU pledged support to COSATU and housed one of its affiliates CCAWUSA (now SACCAWU) at its headquarters for some months until they secured alternative offices.

The nurses strike of 1995 NACTU pledged it solidarity and continues to pledge its support to their union SADNU.

Social Policy

The social policy pursued by NACTU on the following issues is an important policy guideline in a number of issues.

4.3.1   Housing

  • Housing is the primary responsibility of the state through rental stock and provision of infrastructure.

  • Intervention by the government on the financial institutions on interest rate policy.

  • Participation on provision of housing by employer.

4.3.2   Health Care

A national health care system that is provided by the state based on the following:

  • accessibility by the urban rural urban communities

  • preventative though a National Primary Health Care System

  • Occupational Health & Safety

  • Public Education

  • Balance between rural and urban health care

This policy was adopted in the 1993 consultative conference and call for aware capitals in the community.


Education should be compulsory and free to the age of 16

Technically and skills based

Accessibility to tertiary education

Promote are and culture of our people and the working class

A system of school management that ensures parents are in charge of education not students.


A programme to be adopted by government that is aimed at ending the glorification of crime in the townships that should involve:

  • Communities

  • Organised workers and business

  • Student education about crime

  • Religious bodies

  • Ending negotiations with elements involved in Taxi Violence and crime

Taxi violence

The Federation has called for the following measures to end taxi violence:

  • Registration of Taxi Associations

  • Inspection of financial statements and regular audits of Taxi Associations

  • Renewal of Taxi Licences based on yearly basis at local, provincial and national level depending on routes. Those who have been involved in taxi violence to have taxi licences withdrawn

  • Law enforcement through a Special Task Force that is founded partly by the licensing fees and the government

  • Impounding of taxi’s involved in violence and racketeering

  • A tax system for the industry

Economic Policy

In 1992 NACTU began to discuss alternative macro-economic policy options and at 1994 congress the basic tenants of the RDP were accepted, however, NACTU recognised the importance of elaborating on these as the RDP may become an empty acronym.

The NACTU congress called for:

  • Involvement of NACTU structures at all levels of society to ensure that RDP is a reality

  • Work with other federations to develop a document that will reflect a broad trade union approach that should as its aim be to create sustainable and quality jobs.

  • The Social Equity and Job Creation Document published by COSATU, NACTU and FEDSAL is a result of this approach.

Strengthening NACTU

The basic approach to this was laid by the founding fathers on the premise that in building a fighting army of working people under NACTU, the following approach is necessary:

  • Organising into industrial sectors

  • Recruiting new members 
    building industrial unions for the unorganised workers under NACTU

  • Strengthening local and regional structures and build solidarity amongst affiliates

  • Mergers of industrial unions operating in the same sector.

  • Carrying out educational activities to increase participation of workers in union structure.


The basic approach of NACTU on women is that women are workers and union members and therefore women issues are union issues.  NACTU approach is that the women issues have to be integrated into the trade union agenda.  NACTU believes women must be encouraged to participate in union activities by removing barriers that prevent women from participating in union activities.

International relations

Though NACTU believes that international relations cannot be conducted on an ideological basis believed that a minimum basis of international co-operation and solidarity must be based on the following pillows:

  • Secular independent democratic trade union movement

  • Non-racialism

  • Equality of national centres

  • Co-operation and exchange of information

The solidarity biased international relations based on inequalities is not conducive for genuine working class solidarity.  On this basis NACTU has affiliated to the following bodies:

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) a global co-ordinating body based on free independent democratic trade union principles

OATUU.  A regional based organisation that encompasses all unions irrespective whether they are Christian, Islamic or free and democratic.

This affiliation NACTU must interrogate whether it is worth it.

This organisation was formed at the height of the cold war to prevent African trade unions from being involved in East-West trade union political conflicts .  Its relevance must be reviewed by NACTU

SATUCC.  A regionally based organisation with the principles of free independent trade union movement.  However, SATUCC must look at some of its affiliates and apply a test on them.

In addition, NACTU has bilateral relations with Southern African European American and Japanese national centres. 


NACTU believes to build social consensus on social and economic issues it is necessary to participate in tripartite structures.

As a result NACTU is part of the labour component of the following structures inside the country:

  • National Economic Development and Labour Council Unemployment Insurance Fund

  • Workman’s Compensation Board

  • National Occupational Health Council

At international level NACTU participates in the following institutions:

  • International Labour Organisation The ILO sets three basic mandates as follows:

    • Labour standards setting through conventions and recommendations

    • Technical Co-operation through educational programmes

    • Reservoir of international trends on labour market issues
      NACTU participates in its annual conferences

    • SADC Labour Commission (formerly SALC)
      NACTU  participates in annual SALC meetings and discusses labour standards and migrant labour in the region.

OAU Labour Commission

  • NACTU occasionally takes part in the OAU Labour commission whose role is currently being reversed from that of merely developing African positions for the ILO Conference to decisions labour standards in Africa

Self Sufficiency

NACTU has a policy to actively encourage affiliates to be self sufficient.

A union exists because of its members.  It should not exist in spite of its members.

Leadership can only be held accountable if unions can guarantee income and programmes internal.

To this end NACTU as devised strategies for self sufficiency at Federation level and at union level.

For affiliates to finance the Federation they must be self reliant.  We have a short history.  To this end to be able to carry out our mandate, we have two strategies

  • Level of subscriptions and affiliation fees

  • It is our belief that NACTU affiliates should bet at 190 or R20.00 per month, whichever is greater to ensure that a union does not live from hand to mouth and is able to provide the necessary services to its members.

  • NACTU affiliation fees be R1.00 per member.

Economic empowerment

NACTU sees empowerment as having two components

  • Developing skills of those disadvantaged by Apartheid and cultural approach to be able to take positions of responsibility in the economy

  • Distribution of economic wealth to those disadvantaged by Apartheid policies

The approach of NACTU to the empowerment question is the following:

  • State must create the necessary environment to enable empowerment

  • Those who have economic power should have a duty to empower the disadvantaged

  • The disadvantaged should have commitment to empowerment

  • Empowerment should not be done at the expense of labour standards, job security of workers, their health and safety and social security

In this regard NACTU sees a role of all social partners in the process.  Those disempowerd by Apartheid include workers, the disabled women, the rural people and the small black business.

Workers rights

NACTU believes and is committed to fight for the following rights:

4.14.1 Organisational Rights

Workers should have the following organisational rights: Freedom of Association

Workers should have the right to form and belong to trade unions without victimisation The right to collective bargaining

Workers shall have the right to collective bargaining with the following concurrent rights

  • The right to disclosure of information

  • The right to access

  • The right to check-off facilities

  • The right to time off for union duties The right to strike

The workers shall have the right to strike without state intervention with the following concurrent rights

  • The right to picket

  • No Scabbing

  • No dismissals during strikes

  • Sympathy strikes

These rights are in the Constitution and are regulated now by the law.

4.14.2 The right to minimum standards of Employment

Every worker has the right to the following minimum standards of employment

  • The right to a 40 hour week

  • The right to annual leave of no less than 21 working days

  • The right to paid maternity leave of six months

  • The right to sick leave

  • The right to paternity and family business leave