Numsa set to pull support from ANC

2013-12-20 00:00

NUMSA, Cosatu’s biggest union, is set to today withdraw its support for the ANC in next year’s election.

It also wants to withhold the R2 million contribution to the party that would be paid via Cosatu.

Eight of Numsa’s nine regions yesterday voted in favour of a motion that the union will not support the ANC’s election campaign.

The R2 million election contribution should be paid into Numsa’s strike fund, delegates decided.

The 1 000 delegates meeting in Boksburg are also set to vote to widen recruitment outside its industries of steel, motor manufacturing and tyres. This would violate Cosatu’s “one industry, one union” policy.

The decision would see Numsa turn its attention to the mining industry, where National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is already battling to hold its ground against the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (Amcu).

The NUM already has fewer members on the mines than in the two other industries it organises — construction and electricity (Eskom) and Numsa entry into the mines could spell the end of NUM as a mining union.

For practical purposes, any move into the mines would mean Numsa’s withdrawal from Cosatu because of the “one industry, one union” policy.

Cosatu’s acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told reporters in Johannesburg: “[This] should have been discussed first at the federation level.”

He was speaking at Cosatu’s end-of-year statement briefing.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim told the congress: “It is difficult to turn away workers who want to voluntarily join Numsa, particularly when they are likely to go to non-Cosatu unions.

“We will no longer reject any worker.”

Unofficial sources in Numsa told sister paper Beeld that at one stage last year, Numsa had completed application forms from 30 000 mine­workers, but turned them down out of respect for NUM.

Yesterday, Jim told reporters: “If the federation chooses to dismiss Numsa it will not be a Numsa decision, it will be a decision of the federation.”

He said Numsa’s decision to broaden its scope wasn’t taken because it wanted to quit Cosatu.

“There is no sky that is going to fall if Numsa broadens the scope,” Jim said.

Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini warned members trying to force the federation’s hand into expelling them, by causing rifts, that they would not succeed.

“If people take decisions to do wrong things hoping to be expelled by the federation, hard luck, we are not going to expel them.

“We want people to conduct themselves properly within the organisation, so we hope delegates of Numsa are able to relate to the policies of the federation and will be able to defend them,” he said.

He explained that it was not that the federation could not expel the members, but it would not do it at the time those members were hoping for. “We are not saying we cannot expel anyone … we won’t give you that at the time that you want it,” said Dlamini.

By late last night, debate was continuing behind closed doors about the recruitment stance and the future of ties with the Tripartite Alliance.

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