Cosatu: Numsa won't go down without a fight

2015-06-10 17:44
Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete.

Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete. (Cornel van Heerden)

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Metal workers' union Numsa is exploring other options after its failed bid to return to Cosatu and get Zwelinzima Vavi reinstated as secretary general.

Numsa and other affiliates opposed to Cosatu’s decision to expel the metal workers’ union and dismiss Vavi, today said in a joint press briefing that they would seek fresh mandates from their constitutional structures on the way forward.

Judging from the tones of those present at a press briefing, the days of trying to force Cosatu’s hand on welcoming back Numsa and Vavi were nearing their end.

Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete reiterated the union’s position to “reclaim Cosatu and, if all fails, build a new democratic federation” but said this would not be imposed on other affiliates.

About eight Cosatu affiliates stood by Numsa and Vavi and campaigned for a special national congress where their appeal will be entertained. This bid failed in court this week as the judge could not see any urgency in the application by Numsa to be allowed to take part in next month’s Cosatu special national congress.

Cosatu has made it clear that the special gathering would not discuss Vavi, Numsa and their expulsions.

Following a disappointing court action, Numsa and its allies today said in a statement: “Within the next few days our collective programme of action will be subjected to scrutiny by all of the affiliates represented here to ensure that it is sharpened still further to address the needs of our people. Urgent national executive committees will be called for this purpose to make thorough assessment of the balance of class forces and what must be done to ensure that the working class is not sidelined or left on the margins or simply used as election fodder once every four years”.

“We intend to embrace the opportunity now open to us to provide leadership that is not class compromised but which is based on empowering workers and poor communities and to break the shackles of an increasingly discredited and unaccountable system based on patronage and authoritarianism.”

The unions said all NECs will within the next few weeks gather to consolidate a way forward. “We know that there will be many difficult decisions to be made about the future of the trade union movement and were stand within it … We also know that the future does not lie in the hands of those who currently hold power but among those who create the wealth of our society and who sell their labour in order to survive,” read the statement.

The union also accused the current Cosatu leadership of making it clear that “their project was to surgically remove those elements who were trying to implement Cosatu national congress resolutions in favour of the working class”.

Meanwhile, Cloete said Numsa and others were “not demoralised” following yesterday’s failed court application.

“Our spirits are high and the struggle continues,” he said.

He denied, however, that the formation of a new federation was definite although the bickering between Cosatu and Numsa was displaying very slim chances of the two working together unless leadership structures were to change on one of the two sides.

“We won’t play to the gallery that may suggest that we’re delaying the inevitable announcement of a formation of a new federation,” Cloete said.

The statement, however, suggested that Numsa was not ready to be silenced.

“Starting from this press conference, we are going to escalate our activity to unprecedented levels with all of the human and material resources at our disposal … At a national level, measures are already underway to build coalition with civil society to defend our democracy and to ensure that the safeguards we have in our constitution are protected and utilised to build accountability and to challenge the misuse of power. We have been tremendously heartened by the number of people who have expressed a willingness to work with us in this way,” read the statement.

Read more on:    cosatu  |  numsa  |  zwelinzima vavi

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