Cosatu pleads for the ANC’s help

2014-05-18 15:00

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The leadership of Cosatu sent an SOS to the ANC this week in a bid to stop dissident unions from continuing with their court action to force a special elective congress of the federation.

The eight unions, led by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), have begun court action despite the ­intervention by ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.

All the unions were supposed to hold off on any ­action until the ANC intervention proposed a way forward.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said on Friday that the federation’s leadership held a meeting with the ANC task team on Tuesday and asked Ramaphosa to talk to the rebel unions about the matter.

It also wrote to them asking them “to give [the mediation] process a chance”.

“What Numsa and other unions have done by going to court undermines the process. We hope the comrades will say ‘Let’s give the process a chance’,” Dlamini said.

Vavi, who spoke to City Press this week, broke ranks with the eight unions by suggesting that their court action was “not helping at this ­particular moment”.

“But we are also going to see what comes out of the ANC’s intervention ­because many see the special congress being held as necessarily part of that package,” Vavi said.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte would not say whether the ANC task team had met the dissident unions or how far the party’s intervention in ­Cosatu had gone.

Cosatu’s central executive committee is due to meet again on Monday May 26, after its previous meeting was postponed to give Ramaphosa’s intervention a chance. Dlamini would not say whether Numsa would face suspension, but said the agenda of the deferred meeting would still be up for discussion within the context of continuing attempts by the ANC to broker a ceasefire.

“Whatever the central executive committee does on issues of unity should be guided by that thought. It’s up to the leadership of Cosatu whether it abandons unity and cohesion and goes into oblivion, or works ­towards enhancing [its] ­unity,” Dlamini said.

Numsa general secretary ­Irvin Jim said he had written to Ramaphosa and Cosatu about the ­affiliates’ decision to take the matter of the special congress to court, saying the action was about enforcing Cosatu’s ­constitution.

“The constitution is very clear. It says should one third of the affiliates petition the president for a special congress, the president must convene it. So it’s a ­compliance issue and there’s no war about complying with the constitution,” Jim said.

The push for a congress comes at a time when Numsa is embarking on research to explore the possibility of forming a political party to contest the 2016 municipal elections.

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