Vavi was addressing a National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union shop stewards' meeting in Durban.
The secretary-general believes that the tripartite alliance is learning a lesson and the state should aim to play a more active role in the economy.
Vavi used the National Health Insurance policy as an example as to how the State can work to help improve the lives for a very large number of South Africans.
Cosatu have been pushing for a new growth path strategy and Vavi said that cabinet would soon release the details of this but added that despite having made a some progress since the African National Congress' (ANC) last policy conference; there is still a long way to go.
The ANC released a discussion document last week which proposed introducing the NHI scheme over 14 years, starting in 2010. Funding options range from a combination of increased tax rates, increased VAT, and a payroll tax.
It is projected to cost R128bn in 2012, rising to R376bn by 2025. It will begin by improving services to rural areas, and proposes importing doctors and nurses to meet the staffing requirements.