Cosatu pressured over Numsa
Johannesburg - Allies of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) say they will not lift their boycott of Cosatu’s top structures until the federation reinstates the rebel union.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) and the Democratic Nurses Organisation of SA (Denosa) said on Tuesday that they wanted Numsa back in Cosatu before a special national congress was held on the federation’s future.
This demand is likely to be supported by five other Cosatu affiliates who have also suspended their participation in the federation’s central executive committee. They want Numsa’s expulsion lifted and the special congress, which has the power to elect new leaders, to be held.
Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini announced last week that the special congress, which more than a third of Cosatu’s unions called for a year ago, would be held early next year.
It had been hoped that Dlamini giving the go-ahead for the congress would have lured the seven unions back to the Cosatu fold.
And if Numsa and its allies are to have any serious impact on the direction of the congress, Numsa will have to be reinstated, otherwise it will not have any voting powers. The union has about 350 000 members.
Cosatu is starting informal discussions with its affiliates this week as part of a political process to try to unify the federation. It is split over a number of issues.
Some unions who are not aligned with the metalworkers told Independent Media last week that the only way they would allow Numsa’s reinstatement was if it agreed to suspend a resolution adopted last year to extend its scope.
The National Union of Mineworkers has gone a step further, saying it would not consider Numsa returning if it also did not agree to “hand over” members it had organised in mines, which was traditionally the NUM’s territory, as well as those it had been accused of poaching from the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union, including at Ngqura container terminal outside Port Elizabeth.
Numsa was expelled by the CEC earlier this month. It faced five charges, the most serious being extending its scope along value chains, which its opponents alleged mounted to “poaching”.
Numsa and its allies are likely to turn to the courts to get its expulsion lifted.
They believe the union’s dismissal is not fair for several reasons, including that other unions have allegedly extended their scope, and that affiliates were not able to get a mandate from their members after Numsa had made a presentation on why action should not be taken against it.
CWU president Clive Mervyn said yesterday the union was adamant it wanted Numsa’s return. “We are not going to a special national congress without Numsa. They must be reinstated without any conditions,” he said.
Following a national executive committee meeting, Denosa said there could be no unity in Cosatu without Numsa’s reinstatement.
“In light of recent expulsion of Numsa, Denosa strongly believes this decision is going against the spirit of achieving unity which we believe the SNC (special national congress) must achieve.
“For this, Denosa calls for the reinstatement of Numsa back to the federation as a matter of urgency and before the SNC, because it is important that the SNC is inclusive of all affiliates of the federation, including Numsa.”
Group Labour Editor