Cosatu: Lives could be lost in KZN

2014-04-15 00:00

CONGRESS of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has expressed fears of loss of lives in KwaZulu-Natal should ongoing tensions lead to violence.

The federation’s leaders expressed their concerns in the wake of rising tensions among the members at a shop steward council held in Durban on Sunday.

Two weeks ago members of Sadtu and nine other affiliates led by Numsa were separated by police after they almost came to blows at a Durban hotel.

The drama took place following reports of a hit list with names of Numsa leaders and claims of purging of members at the Toyota plant in Prospecton.

While there have been no reported incidents of violence, union leaders fear violence could be difficult to stop once it starts. Toyota has refused to comment on the federation’s troubles spilling into its workplace.

First to raise the concern was Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, who said union members in KZN should not behave as if they did not know the results of violence. “When violence starts, it does not come to an end soon, so I therefore warn you KZN if you continue to fight among yourselves you create a situation of long drawn-out battles,” Dlamini said.

In an interview with The Witness yesterday, Dlamini said it was of concern that two weeks ago police had to separate members of affiliates at a hotel, and that on Sunday the groupings were again ready for a fight. However, Dlamini said he was unaware that things had deteriorated to such levels in specific workplaces where Numsa was a dominant union.

At the Toyota plant there had been reports of division among Numsa members with some workers refusing to participate in a march organised by Numsa two months ago to protest a resolution taken in December to not campaign for the ANC.

The New Age recently quoted Numsa regional secretary Mbuso Ngubane alleging meetings had been held to destabilise the union at Toyota and claiming he and other leaders were on a hit list.

But, Ngubane said yesterday efforts had failed to destabilise the union.

He said Numsa would not allow any provocation to come its way regarding the troubles in Cosatu.

“We have reached a point if they want a fight, we are ready. We are sick and tired of keeping quiet,” he said.

Toyota SA spokesperson Leo Kok said: “We would not involve ourselves at corporate level with any internal issues dealing with unions. If it is raised at corporate level, we will discuss it internally.”

Cosatu provincial secretary Zet Luzipo said it was important to warn members about violence among themselves.

“We have to warn people because tension on political differences can be exploited by others. If it reaches that point it might be impossible to stop it. That is the worst situation.”

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