Numsa in court battle to be allowed back into Cosatu

2015-06-09 16:22


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Johannesburg - The lawyer for expelled National Union of Metalworkers of SA fought hard in the High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday for the right to ask to be allowed back into the fold of Cosatu at the federation's Special National Congress (SNC) next month, instead of waiting until November.

Their first hurdle was to convince Judge Mandla Mbongwe that their application was urgent, through the drilling and hammering of nearby renovators sprucing up the court building.

''This is a matter that in the circumstances of this case could not reasonably be placed on the ordinary roll and the relief that we are entitled to could not be achieved that way," said Numsa's advocate Hans van der Riet.

He submitted that Cosatu was meeting on Wednesday, June 10, to start preparing credentials for the SNC that the court ordered in May be held on July 13 and 14.

Numsa would be left out in the cold if it was not part of that process and if it could not attend the SNC, it would not be able to appeal its expulsion. Nor would Cosatu's former general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi's expulsion be heard.

Numsa would then have to wait until the national congress scheduled for November to try and appeal its expulsion.

On the sidelines of the application, Numsa spokesperson Castro Ngobese said it currently had about 360 000 members and was operating as a stand-alone union.

Numsa represents workers in industries such as vehicle manufacturing and has fought to increase the salaries of those on the factory floor. It has also broken ranks and criticised the government's National Development Plan, and refused to lobby for the ANC in the last general elections.

Cosatu's Central Executive Committee (CEC) announced Numsa's expulsion after a lengthy meeting in November. The shock ejection of its largest union was put down to it not supporting the ANC and for ''poaching'' in other sectors.

Numsa wants to be brought back into the powerful fold of Cosatu, and believes its expulsion was political.

In May, after the court ordered it hold an SNC, Cosatu announced that it would hold two conferences this year - the SNC ordered by the court, and a second in November which would coincide with the 30th anniversary of the formation of the federation.

It said Numsa would only be able to appeal its expulsion at the second conference.

Van der Riet said there was nothing in Cosatu's constitution that said it could not hear the Numsa appeal in July at the SNC. 

The date of the July conference was secured by a court settlement in an application brought by Numsa, which said it had been trying since 2013 to get a Cosatu conference date.

In this applilcation, Numsa also wants the court to order that the metalworkers union's case be heard at the SNC, and that the Liberated Metalworkers Union (Limusa), which has replaced Numsa in Cosatu, not be allowed to attend the SNC.

Limusa is opposing the application.

Numsa has been firm in its support for Vavi, who was expelled from Cosatu in March.

Cosatu and the 19 union affililates oppose the Numsa application being heard as urgent.

They say that Numsa has had since last November to appeal the expulsion and that Numsa was behind on its dues. A union had to be in good standing to be able to attend a conference.

Van der Riet countered by saying that if Cosatu allowed them to function as an affiliate, to participate and perform in terms of their rights, then reciprocal obligations arose. 

''They cant expect us to pay money when they refuse to allow us to get the benefits of our affiliates.''

The judge said he would rule on the application to be heard urgently at 4pm.

Read more on:    cosatu  |  numsa  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  johannesburg  |  labour

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