Ex­pelled me­tal­work­ers’ union wants to cre­ate its own fed­er­a­tion to ri­val Cosatu

CityPress - - Front Page - HLENGIWE NH­LA­BATHI hlengiwe.nh­la­bathi@city­

Ex­pelled me­tal­work­ers’ union Numsa is pre­par­ing to forge ahead with the launch of a new fed­er­a­tion to ri­val Cosatu, even as its nine sup­port­ing af­fil­i­ates dither.

Numsa deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary Karl Cloete said a three-day meet­ing of the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee that started on Thurs­day would take a firm and fi­nal de­ci­sion on the mat­ter.

Cloete said this was a pre­cur­sor to a joint meet­ing in which nine of the Numsa ally unions in Cosatu – if they de­cided to at­tend – would have to in­di­cate if they were in or out of the planned fed­er­a­tion.

The unions in­clude the Food and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union, the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Work­ers’ Union, nurs­ing union Denosa, the SA Com­mer­cial Cater­ing and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union and the State and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union.

“That meet­ing will have to be a frank and open ex­change, with­out hid­ing any­thing. This is the cross­roads. We will re­spect those who want to re­build Cosatu from within; we won’t throw any tantrums.

“My per­sonal view is that the spe­cial na­tional congress was the end of the road ... we can’t ex­pect any­thing with a Cosatu lead­er­ship that op­er­ates like there are no rules,” said Cloete.

This comes af­ter dis­si­dent unions suf­fered de­feat at a gru­elling Cosatu spe­cial congress as they tried to push to have the ex­pul­sions of Zwelinz­ima Vavi and the fed­er­a­tion’s big­gest af­fil­i­ate, Numsa, re­versed.

They were out­voted on the con­tentious is­sues they raised, in­clud­ing that Cosatu’s first deputy pres­i­dent, Zingiswa Losi, be re­moved, the ad­mis­sion of a new me­tal­work­ers’ union into Cosatu – the Lib­er­ated Me­tal­work­ers’ Union of SA – be re­versed and want­ing new lead­ers to be elected.

City Press un­der­stands af­fil­i­ates were split dur­ing a cau­cus and could not agree on the way for­ward.

Re­la­tions be­tween Numsa and its al­lies have strained so much that it may now be plan­ning a fu­ture with­out them.

There’s also a view within Numsa that what they had was merely a “false unity”.

Cracks started to show af­ter the af­fil­i­ates re­neged on an ear­lier agree­ment not to at­tend the spe­cial congress but hold a par­al­lel work­ers’ sum­mit, which was to be a cul­mi­na­tion of the launch of a new fed­er­a­tion.

Numsa has been con­sis­tent in its stance that if its fight to re­claim Cosatu flops, it would move to form a new fed­er­a­tion.

Denosa is among the unions that have in­di­cated they would not leave Cosatu.

A pro-Vavi Numsa union leader raised con­cerns about “bad tim­ing”, say­ing they could not be forced by emo­tions to take dras­tic de­ci­sions and had “to man­age the sit­u­a­tion so that our sym­pa­this­ers don’t think we did not try enough to ex­haust all means”.

It is un­der­stood that some of the af­fil­i­ates want to fight on at the elec­tive congress in Novem­ber, where a show­down over po­si­tions is ex­pected. It is at this congress that Vavi and Numsa have the op­tion to ap­peal their ex­pul­sions.

Food and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union gen­eral sec­re­tary Katishi Masemola told City Press his union planned to re­turn to the Cosatu cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee to par­tic­i­pate in plan­ning for the elec­tive congress. The union was among those that had boy­cotted Cosatu since Numsa’s ex­pul­sion, vow­ing to re­turn only upon its re­in­state­ment.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Work­ers’ Union gen­eral sec­re­tary Aubrey Tsha­bal­ala said they would go back to struc­tures “to as­sess what we can do”.

A Numsa leader claimed that the af­fil­i­ates were also con­tend­ing with the fact that they were go­ing to lose ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing de­ploy­ment to po­si­tions, which were part of the pack­age of be­ing part of the al­liance.

If all fails, Numsa will forge ahead with splin­ter unions, among them the Demo­cratic Mu­nic­i­pal Work­ers of SA, the Public Ser­vants’ Union led by for­mer Sadtu leader Thobile Ntola, and another to be formed by a break­away fac­tion from Cosatu’s bank­ing union, Sasbo.

The Eastern Cape, which has for the first time in 30 years be­come a no-go area for Cosatu lead­ers, is also fer­tile ground for Numsa and Vavi.

Cloete said there were on­go­ing dis­cus­sions with the Na­tional Coun­cil of Trade Unions, which he be­lieved would be a for­mi­da­ble force to bring on board.

A work­ers’ sum­mit is be­ing planned to mo­bilise for the new fed­er­a­tion, and Vavi is be­lieved to be lead­ing that process. Numsa has been sup­port­ing Vavi fi­nan­cially since May.


DE­FI­ANT Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of SA gen­eral sec­re­tary Irvin Jim ad­dresses his

union’s mem­bers with

Zwelinz­ima Vavi along­side


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