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Cosatu, NUM back Numsa strike

Johannesburg - The NUM and trade union federation Cosatu said on Tuesday they support the national strike by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).

Both the Congress of SA Trade Unions and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) declared solidarity with Numsa's strike in the metals and engineering sectors, that started on Tuesday.

The National Union of Metalworkers striking workers march in central Johannesburg. The union wants a 12 percent salary increase, the scrapping of labour brokers, and a one-year bargaining agreement. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi. Credit: Independent Newspapers

“The NUM support Numsa in their fight to close the apartheid wage gap, fighting for equity in the workplace, and demanding a living wage... It is important for the working class to continue fighting for better salaries and better working conditions,” the NUM said in a statement.

Cosatu described Numsa's demands as reasonable and called on its affiliates to back the strike.

“We agree with Numsa's determination that they are not going to be intimidated by all those who represent the class interest of business and big capital,” Cosatu said in its statement.

The show of support comes as relations between Numsa, the NUM, and Cosatu have endured strain.

In December 2013, Numsa threatened to withhold subscription fees from Cosatu as part of a campaign to get the union federation out of the tripartite alliance with the ruling African National Congress and SA Communist Party.

Numsa supported Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi when he was suspended for having an affair with a junior employee at the federation's headquarters.

“We will organise a march to Cosatu House to push the Cosatu leadership to accede to the clarion call for a special national congress and withdrawal of charges against (suspended) Cosatu general secretary,” Numsa general secretary Irwin Jim said at the time.

In April 2013, the NUM accused Numsa of poaching its members who worked at Eskom.

The NUM reportedly wanted Cosatu's central executive committee to ensure Numsa “returned” its members employed at the power utility.

The NUM reportedly threatened to withhold its estimated R800,000 monthly subscription to Cosatu if it failed to intervene in its favour. - Sapa

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