New union to take on Numsa

2014-08-27 00:00

MEET the man taking on South Africa’s most powerful union.

Sfiso Maphumulo and three others are leading a splinter union to take on the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa).

The Metal and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa (Mawusa) was formed in May and three weeks ago they set up their KZN structure.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Maphumulo said they took the decision to form Mawusa as they believed Numsa was no longer worker-controlled.

“The leaders are taking decisions without the mandate of members,” he said.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said they were aware that Mawusa was registering with the Labour Department.

“We are a growing union. We won’t comment on people who don’t sleep at night,” Jim said.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said a prospective affiliate submits an application for consideration to the labour federation.

Craven said Cosatu was unlikely to allow Mawusa to affiliate since it has a policy of one union in each sector.

“They should rather join Numsa as we don’t want many Cosatu unions in the same sector,” he said.

Maphumulo previously served as executive member of Numsa’s Isipingo branch and chairperson of the local Cosatu branch.

He was relieved of his duties as a shopsteward last year after fellow members petitioned for his removal at Toyota South Africa in Durban.

This was on the eve of Numsa hosting the special congress that decided on exploring the formation of a leftist movement.

He had previously criticised Numsa’s leaders, writing an open letter questioning the use of union funds to pay the affiliation fees of smaller unions that had given Numsa their backing.

“We are waiting for the Department of Labour to issue us with a ­certificate of recognition,” Maphumulo said. “We are strongest in KwaZulu-Natal — especially in Durban, Richards Bay and Pietermaritzburg.”

They have members in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Limpopo, he said.

They plan to hold an elective national conference within the next 12 to 18 months.

With recruitment the priority, Maphumulo said they were not concerned with Numsa.

“Our focus is to build Mawusa. That is where we focus our energies on,” he said in reference to the pending suspension of Numsa from Cosatu.

He said the recent killing of three Numsa shopstewards in KZN would not ignite tensions between Mawusa and Numsa.

“All the guys who were killed were close to some of us. We worked with them at Numsa. We feel for them, their families and Numsa,” he said, adding that the law should take its course.

• mayibongwe.maqhina

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