Suspended Cosatu deputy could be forced to return to job in car factory

2013-10-08 14:09

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Cosatu second deputy president Zingiswa Losi could be forced to return to her full-time job as quality inspector in a car factory should her union kick her out as shop steward.

This would leave the labour federation with four national office bearers, after it suspended its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi in August.

Two union sources said Losi could be forced to vacate her position as a shop steward and Cosatu leader if her branch of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) finds her guilty of violating its constitution.

She was suspended last week by Numsa, a Vavi ally, reportedly for going against the union’s stance.

If expelled, the vocal critic of Vavi will have to go back to her full-time job as a quality inspector at the Ford Motor Company in Port Elizabeth.

It is not clear yet whether this will force the Cosatu leadership to call a special congress to elect new office bearers.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini has written a letter to Numsa asking its leadership to explain the implications of Losi’s suspension. He said Numsa’s correspondence did not even spell out the reason for her suspension.

“It (her suspension) has direct implications for her work at Cosatu as she is not active at her workplace. Once we hear the explanation, we will know what the picture is,” he said.

Dlamini said it would be best for the union to talk to Cosatu if her suspension relates to her work at the federation.

“If any union were to take action against a member for what she is doing on her deployment, then it is Cosatu that is on trial,” he said.

A union leader sympathetic to Losi accused Numsa of hypocrisy.

“This is a high level of insincerity. We rejected the ANC’s attempt to charge Zwelinzima Vavi when he was articulating Cosatu positions, which were contrary to the ANC’s position. They cannot remove her from office unless they expel her as a member,” he said.

Vavi last week filed supplementary papers in a court bid to have his suspension overturned. In the papers, he reveals that Losi sided with Dlamini, while the other three national office bearers felt the August 16 meeting, at which Vavi was suspended, would be “extremely divisive and damaging to Cosatu” and shouldn’t go ahead.

Vavi revealed in the papers that his suspension at that meeting came as a surprise.

“I was assured I had nothing to fear from the meeting,” but it was “bitterly divided from the beginning”.

“When I left the meeting there was no mention or even a suggestion that a possible suspension would be discussed,” Vavi said.

He said he learnt of his suspension in online reports later that same evening.

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