Johannesburg - Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on Tuesday thanked trade union Numsa for supporting him during his suspension from the labour federation.

“I thank Numsa for the support when the hyenas came for me,” he told thousands of striking metalworkers in Johannesburg.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) backed Vavi following his suspension from the Congress of SA Trade Unions last year.

Numsa took the matter to court and successfully fought against the suspension.

Vavi was subsequently reinstated.

He said Numsa stood its ground and refused to be manipulated.

“Cosatu was going to be turned from a militant union to a sweetheart for those in power,” he said to thunderous applause from striking workers.

Workers wanted a Cosatu that did not look down, but spoke out to those in power.

“Another important fact is that Numsa never said it wanted out of Cosatu... that is a lie.”

Numsa's demand for a 12 percent wage increase was a compromise, he said.

“We want 15 percent... asijiki nge 15 percent (we are not turning back on 15 percent).” - Sapa