Recession causes trade union numbers to drop – October 2009

Trade union members are lost due to Recession in South Africa - more on

The economic recession has led to an increasing amount of retrenchments in South Africa, which has contributed to a corresponding drop in trade union membership. Around 230 000 members have been lost, and according the Department of Labour, five unions have deregistered this year, while last year 39 unions were deregistered.


The loss of union members has been evidenced across sectors and unions. The Confederation of SA Workers’ Unions (Consawu), which has 22 affiliated unions, was down 80 000 members. The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa), which represents 20 affiliate unions and had 405 000 members at its last audit in December 2008, reckons they have lost around 25 000 members due to retrenchments. The National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) has estimated a loss of around 15 000 members. The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is down by 60 000 members.


The decrease in membership of trade unions is causing unions to look at alternative ways of recruiting new members, including the possibility of signing up workers who are employed through brokers.


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