The Congress of South African Trade Unions was founded in 1985 and played a major role over the final years of apartheid, mobilizing workers in strikes and mass protests in the struggle for racial equality.
COSATU forged close links with the African National Congress, post-apartheid South Africa's dominant political party, as well as with the country's communists. Together, this "tripartite alliance" hold a monopoly over South African politics. However, despite their close relationship with Pretoria, COSATU's members remain more than willing to disrupt the government's plans.
In 2010, COSATU and its affiliates brought the country to a standstill, backing a public sector strike that paralysed services as nurses, doctors and teachers demanded wage hikes. Later that year, union opposition saw the famously union-busting US retail giant Walmart given a rough ride in its bid for South African counterpart Massmart