Johannesburg - Cosatu expressed concern on Thursday about Numsa's debate on its scope of recruiting members.
“[This] should have been discussed first at the federation level,” acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told reporters in Johannesburg.
He was speaking at the Congress of SA Trade Unions' end of year statement briefing.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), 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.
Numsa is a Cosatu affiliate.
“We will no longer reject any worker.”
This went against Cosatu's one union, one industry policy.
Ntshalintshali said Cosatu had noted that Numsa had not invited the trade union federation to address the congress, but had allowed its suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to do so.
“[This] is in contravention of a central executive committee decision,” he said.
Vavi was put on special leave earlier this year after having an affair with a junior Cosatu employee. Numsa, an ally of Vavi's, is challenging Cosatu's decision to suspend Vavi in court.
Cosatu blamed internal problems on “enemies” working from within the “rich and powerful”, who were unhappy with some of the battles Cosatu was fighting, such as its opposition to e-tolls.
“We are busy trying to resolve these problems and in the meantime we are maintaining and strengthening the unity of our movement,” Ntshalintshali said.
“We are all aware of the dangers of fighting small battles against one another when workers continue to face massive economic challenges.”
Cosatu was calling for unity and cohesion, he said.