There is no respect for the Congress of SA Trade Union’s constitution, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said on Sunday.
“It is lawlessness that prevails,” deputy general secretary Karl Cloete told reporters in Johannesburg.
“Its president should have been long booted before Numsa.”
He said Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini had violated the trade union federation’s constitution when he refused to host a special national congress. Cosatu expelled Numsa at its special central executive committee meeting which ran into the early hours of Saturday morning. Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim earlier described the expulsion of his union as a well-orchestrated programme.
“Sidumo Dlamini is the kingpin [of the move] to basically liquidate Numsa,” he told reporters.
Jim charged that the African National Congress and its alliance partners the SA Communist Party and Congress of SA Trade Unions wanted Numsa out of the trade union federation, with Dlamini playing a major role.
“We have over time watched his [Dlamini’s] leadership, he is divisive…”
He said Numsa’s expulsion was “pulled” for the ANC and SACP.
He said even the ANC task team, who intervened in the CEC process of dealing with Numsa, themselves demonstrated their bias against the metalworkers union and its congress resolutions.
Numsa resolved at its special national congress last year not to support the ANC or any political party in the May 7 general elections.
Jim said the hearing against Numsa on Friday, was not fair as a decision to expel Numsa had already been decided by some affiliate leaders using many different platforms over the past year.
“Numsa’s biggest crime has been to democratically, in its own congress, argue for the political independence of the federation, given the worsening material conditions of the working class as a result of the neo-liberal ANC policies.
“We have noted with grave concern how our congress resolution has been misrepresented and distorted,” Jim said.
He said Numsa was expelled by 33 union leaders with no mandate from their structures.
“What happened in the early hours of Saturday morning was that a few leaders [many with no mandates from their own structures] decided the future of 2.2 million Cosatu members in a boardroom through a vote.”
He said Numsa had always intended to procedurally argue for its congress resolutions to be democratically debated by workers at a Cosatu special national congress.
Numsa said it was concerned that the key policies of the ANC, the National Development Plan, which it described as a cut-and-paste policy of the DA, and Gear (growth, employment and redistribution) have replaced the Freedom Charter.
“The Freedom Charter gave the ANC its liberation character. It is a militant, popular programme which challenged property relations in South Africa,” said Jim.
Despite its expulsion from Cosatu, Jim said Numsa would conduct mass meetings countrywide to speak to workers about its future.
“The fight is not over.”
He called on union members to remain united and also called on all workers across all Cosatu affiliates to remain united and reject the expulsion of Numsa.
“Numsa’s leadership remain resolute that we shall continue to serve in Cosatu structures in different capacities as we will challenge the boardroom dismantling of our federation.”
Jim called on Numsa members to continue to attend Cosatu meetings at the shop-floor levels.
“We are challenging them to remove Numsa shop stewards,” he said.
Numsa was formed in May 1987. It merged four different unions. These unions were: Metal and Allied Workers Union, Motor Industry Combined Workers Union, National Automobile and Allied Workers Union and United Metal, Mining and Allied Workers of SA.
Two different Cosatu unions — the General and Allied Workers Union and the Transport and General Workers Union — also gave their metalworker members to Numsa. At the time of its expulsion from Cosatu, Numsa was the biggest union in the trade union federation with 350,000 members. SAPA