Johannesburg - Cosatu sent greetings to the Numsa special congress on Tuesday but stopped short of supporting the event after not being invited to address delegates.
“Although it is not a constitutional requirement, it has been the custom and practice for years for the NOBs (national office bearers) to be invited to address Numsa and other affiliates' congresses and other important meetings,” the Congress of SA Trade Unions said in a statement.
“The federation respects the autonomy of affiliates, but affiliates must abide by the Cosatu constitution and policies of the federation.”
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA is holding its special congress in Boksburg, on the East Rand.
The union was expected to discuss whether it would withdraw its membership of Cosatu and whether it would support the African National Congress in next year's elections.
Numsa has become disenchanted with the political leadership of the ANC and the alliance between the ruling party, the SA Communist Party, and Cosatu.
Earlier, newly-elected Numsa president Andrew Chirwa asked metalworkers to consider calling on President Jacob Zuma to resign.
“Should we not ask our own President Jacob Zuma, who benefited from this saga, to resign in the interest of the poor?” he asked delegates.
“Must we not ask that he resigns to preserve the legacy of Nelson Mandela?”
He was referring to the R206 million upgrade to Zuma's private homestead at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal, calling it a gross abuse and theft of public money.
Numsa accused the alliance of being toothless, appearing only when it was election time and being incapable of ending poverty and inequality.
“There is no amount of unity that can change the plight (of the poor).”
The only solution was the freedom charter, he said.
“Numsa has become a lone voice in the mass democratic revolution.”
Chirwa said Numsa was still waiting to see the ANC's so-called radical programme it had mentioned in its discussion document released at its elective conference in Mangaung last year. It made reference to the second phase of the transition.
“That second phase, it's the second phase of e-tolls. We (have) still yet to see the radical part.”
Chirwa said Cosatu had been hit by a train and paralysed.
“It's as if it's been hit by a truck, a big truck, no, a train, a train is bigger,” he said.
“We called a special congress to rescue Cosatu from its paralysis.”
He accused Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini of elevating himself above the trade union federation by not convening a special Cosatu congress.
Cosatu had not been the same since its congress last year, he said.
Numsa could not fight for Cosatu, which was like a house which had been abandoned, and only the sign “Beware of the Dog” remained, Chirwa said.
“That's not the Cosatu we are prepared to fight for.”