Numsa debate worries Cosatu

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Numsas Irvin Jim, left, and Karl Cloete join delegates in song at the special national congress. Photo: Timothy Bernard

Johannesburg - Cosatu on Thursday warned its affiliate Numsa against organising outside its scope and withholding its subscription fee to the federation.

“It is important to remind delegates, workers, that they belong to the federation Cosatu which is founded on noble principles and policies which is unity of unions of Cosatu,” president S’dumo Dlamini told reporters in Johannesburg.

He said any union tampering with the federation's principles turned themselves into a general union resolved at disrupting Cosatu, causing workers to fight and kill each other.

“You're beginning to define yourself outside the federation. It is wrong to even think of organising beyond your scope,” he said.

Cosatu expressed concern on Thursday about Numsa's debate on its scope of recruiting members.

Acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said the matter should have been discussed first at the federation level.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA, which is currently holding a special national congress, on Tuesday said it would not turn away any workers who wanted to join the union.

“It is difficult to turn away workers who want to voluntarily join Numsa, particularly when they are likely to go to non-Cosatu unions,” Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim told the congress.

“We will no longer reject any worker.”

This went against Cosatu's one union, one industry policy.

Dlamini said the idea of recruiting workers from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was a recipe for disaster. He urged the union not to go ahead with the plan.

His sentiments were echoed by Cosatu second deputy president Zingiswa Losi.

“Workers will remain vulnerable because you have taken them out of their scope when it comes to the bargaining council. The employers would do as they please.”

Dlamini warned members trying to force the federation's hand into expelling them, by causing rifts, that they would not succeed.

“If people take decisions to do wrong things hoping to be expelled by the federation, hard luck, we are not going to expel them.

“We want people to conduct themselves properly within the organisation, so we hope delegates of Numsa are able to relate to the policies of the federation and will be able to defend them,” he said.

He explained that it was not that the federation could not expel the members, but it would not do it at the time those members were hoping for.

“We are not saying we cannot expel anyone... we won’t give you that at the time that you want it,” said Dlamini.

Jim told reporters in Boksburg, on the East Rand on Thursday afternoon that if the union left Cosatu, it would not be out of choice.

“We are taking a path that could lead to us being dismissed,” he said.

“If the federation decides to dismiss Numsa it won't be a Numsa decision.”


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