Business as usual for Cosatu top brass

2014-11-19 18:30

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The Congress of SA Trade Unions’ central executive committee met with a reduced number of affiliates.

“[It is] a continuation of the meeting from a couple of weeks ago which ended with Numsa being expelled,” said Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven today.

He confirmed the meeting was continuing without some unions, which had suspended their participation in the CEC following the National Union of Metalworkers of SA’s (Numsa) expulsion.

Craven said he was not sure what was on the agenda or what was happening in the meeting.

The agenda for the last meeting, held on November 7, where Numsa was expelled, included an update on the disciplinary process against the general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, an update on litigation against Cosatu, president Sdumo Dlamini’s report on the request for the special national congress, and the signing off of the draft secretariat report.

These items had been put on hold since April when the African National Congress task team intervened to help Cosatu with its internal problems.

According to the Sowetan newspaper, Vavi could face fresh charges for publicly denouncing Numsa’s expulsion.

Vavi was suspended last year for having an affair with a junior employee. Numsa, a strong ally of Vavi’s, took Cosatu to court over his suspension. Earlier this year the suspension was overturned and Vavi returned to work.

Following Numsa’s expulsion, Vavi wrote to affiliates saying he could not support Numsa’s expulsion.

The CEC meeting expelled Numsa with a vote of 33 for and 24 against after the trade union federation charged the union with violating its constitution.

Following this, seven Cosatu affiliates who were against Numsa’s expulsion announced they would suspend their participation in the CEC until it had met its individual CECs or national executive committees.

The unions were the SA Commercial Clothing and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu), the Communication Workers Union (CWU), the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu), the SA State and Allied Workers Union (Sasawu), the Public and Allied Workers Union of SA (Pawusa), the Democratic Nurses Organisation of SA (Denosa), and the SA Football Players Union (Safpu).

Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola confirmed the unions were not part of today’s CEC.

Asked about the legitimacy of the meeting, he said technically the CEC could continue without the unions.

“This meeting is considered a continuation from the adjourned CEC, so there is no requirement for credentials to be processed. Now on that basis they can continue,” said Masemola.

However, there would be a legitimacy crisis if the meeting continued and took decisions regarding policies or which had political implications.

“If they choose to do that they are plunging the federation into deeper crisis... because [the meeting] is only representing about half of the affiliates,” he said.

The seven unions were consulting their members and would make a decision on the way forward this weekend.

Masemola said the seven unions would meet on Saturday following their individual meetings.

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