List of Major Trade Unions in South Africa


Trade unions are organizations of workers in place to protect the rights of workers. They regulate working relations between employers and employees. There are various roles trade unions serve. They help to regulate jobs for their members. They also ensure job security for their members. they also help to enforce other things like health and safety for workers and skill development.

There are various trade unions in South Africa, which we have brought to your notice. However, there are three broad groups of trade unions in South Africa called federations.

Trade Unions in South Africa

Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU)

This was established in 1985 to defend the rights of female workers. has about twenty-one affiliated unions functioning under it. It also has an estimated number of 1.8 million members, making the largest of the three federations.

Federation of South Africa Trade Unions (FEDUSA)

This is the second largest of all the federations. It was established in 1997 and it currently has more than 560,000 members. It comprises different workers in sectors like education, aviation, banking, automobile, and so on.

National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU)

This has over 400,000 members. it also has about seventeen unions under it. It represents works in the public sector, textile, agriculture and so on.

You have become familiar with the broad groups. We have listed the trade unions individually under each federation they fall.

COSATU Affiliate

  • South African Football Players Union (SAFPU)
  • Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU)
  • South African Medical Association (SAMA)
  • South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)
  • Public and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (PAWUSA)
  • Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)
  • Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (CEPPWAWU)
  • South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU)
  • South African State and Allied Workers Union (SASAWU)
  • National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU)
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NACTU affiliate

  • Thor Transport Action Retail & General Workers Union (THOR)
  • Professional Educators Union (P. E. U.)
  • National Public Service Workers Union (NPSWU)
  • Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU)
  • Banking, Insurance, Finance and Assurance Workers Union (BIFAWU)
  • South Africa Private Security Workers’ Union (SAPSWU)
  • National Transport Movement (NTM)
  • Labour Equity General Workers Union of South Africa (LEWUSA)
  • Inqubelaphambili Trade Union (ITU)
  • Mine, Engineering and Distributors Workers Union of South Africa (MEDWUSA)
  • National Security Commercial and General Workers Union (NASECGWU)
  • Building Wood and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (BWAWUSA)
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FEDUSA Affiliate

  • South African Communications Union (SACU)
  • Joint Affirmative Management Forum (JAMAFO)
  • Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA)
  • Independent Commercial Hospitality and Allied Workers Union (ICHAWU)
  • Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers-Unie (SAOU)
  • United National Public Servants Association of South Africa and Allied Workers Union (UNIPSAWU)
  • South African Abet Educators Union (SAAEU)
  • National Security and Unqualified Workers Union (NASUWU)
  • Communication Workers Union (CWU)
  • Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA)
  • Tertiary Education National Union of South Africa (TENUSA)
  • South African Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union (SAPTU)
  • Congregated and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (CAWUSA)


If you have been wondering what federation a particular trade union falls, you now have your answer. You have just gotten access to details on these trade unions in South Africa. Let’s hear your thoughts and comments in the comments section.


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