Numsa will fight expulsion – Jim

2014-11-09 15:00

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The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has vowed to fight its expulsion from Cosatu to the bitter end, saying it was confident it would return to the trade federation as an affiliate at some point in the future.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said: “We will challenge it, we will fight it and we will defeat it because we will stop at nothing to make sure the unity of workers cannot be compromised by [Cosatu president] Sdumo [Dlamini] for his own political expediency.”

Jim said Numsa’s expulsion from Cosatu confirmed what the union has been saying all along: that those who wanted them out were not willing to listen to reason, nor were they willing to compromise.

This was evidenced, he said, by the fact that the central executive committee members who wanted Numsa out of Cosatu were not willing to spend time considering the 29-page presentation he made on why his union should stay.

“We put together a clear and thorough case, which is watertight. There could be no reason for Numsa to be dismissed on those five violations we were accused of,” he said.

Some Cosatu veterans described Numsa’s expulsion as a sad day for the labour federation, while unions that support Numsa said they would canvass their members for a way forward, but were 100% behind metal workers.

Mbhazima Shilowa, the former general secretary of Cosatu, said while it was expected that Numsa would be expelled, “we hoped that common sense would prevail”.

“With Numsa out, it means that Cosatu would have to form a new metal workers union. This will come with great challenges as the federation will have to compete with Numsa for members,” he said.

“The formation of the new union may also result in Cosatu taking its eye off the ball and workers will suffer. There is also a strong possibility that a new federation will emerge and seek to organise where Cosatu has already established itself. Cosatu’s strength will really be tested this time,” he said.

Jay Naidoo, another former Cosatu general secretary, tweeted that he was sad to see Cosatu reach the point where it had to expel one of its affiliates for holding differing views.

“I never thought in my lifetime I would witness the wanton destruction of hard-fought-for workers unity.

“The truth one day will out to reveal the masterminds of the destruction of South Africa’s most powerful labour movement in history,” tweeted Naidoo.

The Communications Workers Union – a vocal Numsa supporter – said it was fully behind the metal workers union in its fight for reinstatement. General secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said they would urge their members to defend not only Numsa but Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, who may be the next target.

“Our members must go out there and defend the unity and cohesion of Cosatu. No expulsion of Vavi and no expulsion of Numsa. Obviously, the faction that supports expulsion was hellbent on getting its way. We were not afforded a chance of asking for clarity,” Tshabalala said.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the ruling party had tried to advise the federation’s warring parties that a divided Cosatu would be a weaker one.

“That will not change because Numsa is expelled,” he said.

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