Em­bat­tled Cosatu in talks to re­pair its torn flanks

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - AMY MUS­GRAVE Group Labour Ed­i­tor

THE NEXT few weeks are go­ing to be es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult for Cosatu as the fed­er­a­tion holds in­for­mal talks with its af­fil­i­ates to pre­vent it from com­pletely im­plod­ing.

Cosatu’s na­tional of­fice­bear­ers were also ex­pected to meet the ANC to­day as part of a po­lit­i­cal process an­nounced last week to unify Cosatu, which is rent down the mid­dle over var­i­ous is­sues.

The process will not be easy as unions have dif­fer­ent views on what needs to hap­pen to unify the fed­er­a­tion. Seven of Cosatu’s 18 af­fil­i­ates have tem­po­rar­ily with­drawn their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fed­er­a­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive struc­ture.

Cosatu hopes that a decision by its pres­i­dent, S’dumo Dlamini, to fi­nally give the go-ahead for a spe­cial na­tional congress which has the power to elect new lead­ers will lure the seven unions back.

They, along with Numsa, called for the spe­cial congress more than a year ago, as they be­lieve it is the only way to heal Cosatu.

Ac­cord­ing to in­sid­ers, an op­tion could be to ask Numsa to sus­pend a res­o­lu­tion adopted last year to ex­tend its scope, and in re­turn it would be al­lowed back into Cosatu.

But Numsa agree­ing to this is un­likely. It be­lieves ex­tend­ing its scope is not in con­tra­dic­tion with Cosatu’s found­ing prin­ci­ples as al­leged by more than half the fed­er­a­tion’s af­fil­i­ates.

The union, which was ac­cused of “poach­ing” mem­bers from sis­ter af­fil­i­ates, is now or­gan­is­ing along value chains, ar­gu­ing that tech­no­log­i­cal changes, changes in pro­duc­tion and re­struc­tur­ing of sec­tors have ne­ces­si­tated new or­gan­i­sa­tional strate­gies.

An ANC task team set up sev­eral months ago to help unify Cosatu agrees that the way unions or­gan­ise may need to be ad­justed due to chang­ing eco­nomic con­di­tions, but if changes are to be made, they should be done at a na­tional congress.

Last week, a Na­tional Union of Minework­ers leader said that if Numsa were to re­turn, it would not be sat­is­fied with it only sus­pend­ing its scope.

It would want the me­tal­work­ers to agree to “hand over” mem­bers it had or­gan­ised in mines, which was tra­di­tion­ally NUM’s ter­ri­tory, as well as those it had been ac­cused of poach­ing from the SA Trans­port and Al­lied Work­ers Union, in­clud­ing at the Ngqura con­tainer ter­mi­nal out­side Port El­iz­a­beth.

Numsa’s ex­pul­sion is one of many is­sues dog­ging the fed­er­a­tion.

The po­lit­i­cal process will also fo­cus on what kind of ac­tion, if any, should be taken against Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi, who is fac­ing nine charges, in­clud­ing mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion and bring­ing the fed­er­a­tion into dis­re­pute.

The seven unions who boy­cotted a Cosatu cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing last week are wor­ried that Numsa’s ex­pul­sion will lead to sim­i­lar ac­tion against Vavi, as his support base in Cosatu has been di­min­ished.

A leader from one of the seven unions, who did not want to be named, said Vavi had pleaded with them last week to lift their boy­cott, but they had told him they needed more time to de­cide how to move for­ward.

They are to an­nounce their decision later this week.

Vavi pleaded for boy­cott to be lifted

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