Numsa's lawyers say special meeting will solve issues, allow congress to go ahead

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa members demonstrating in Johannesburg.
National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa members demonstrating in Johannesburg.
Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images via Getty Images
  • Lawyers of the National Union of Metalworkers said the union's conference could commence in compliance with the Labour Court interdict on Tuesday.
  • Lawyers of suspended officials gave Numsa until the close of business on Monday to confirm it that it would not try to hold its interdicted congress.
  • Numsa delegates came to the Cape Town International Convention Centre in numbers on Monday, but the union said the congress remained interdicted.
  • Get the biggest business stories emailed to you every weekday, or go to the Fin24 front page.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa's (Numsa's) lawyers have claimed that once the union holds its special central committee meeting on Tuesday morning, it will be able to commence with its now-interdicted national congress, in full compliance with a Labour Court order. 

This comes after a law firm representing Numsa officials who successfully challenged their suspension urged union leadership not to push ahead with the congress, in contravention of the interdict. 

The Labour Court in Johannesburg ruled over the weekend that the union's suspension of Numsa's second deputy president Ruth Ntlokotse and 30 other officials was "unconstitutional, invalid, and unenforceable in law". The court said the congress could not commence until concerns related to the suspensions and their constitutionality were addressed.

Ntlokotse believes she and other officials were suspended to prevent them from running for leadership positions at the national congress.

Even if the special central committee meeting on Tuesday morning resolves to lift the suspensions, it is unclear how the suspended officials looking to participate in the congress are expected to make it to Cape Town on time for Tuesday.

Numsa's law firm Serfontein Viljoen & Swart, said in a letter to the lawyers of the suspended officials that the union planned to abide by the ruling.

"As per the court order, the national congress will only go ahead once the union fully complies with the constitution. Our client anticipates that, after convening and concluding a central committee meeting tomorrow morning (26 July), the union will be in full compliance with its constitution and the order will no longer prevent the union from proceeding with the congress later in the day," the letter said.

READ | Over 50 officials banned from Numsa conference as shop steward drama worsens

The letter from the suspended officials' law firm, Ahmed Gani Attorneys, said it had been informed that Numsa was looking to hold a congress despite the interdict. They gave the union until the close of business on Monday afternoon to assure the firm and its clients that they would not undertake to hold or open the national congress this week.

"In light of the above and in an effort to protect our clients' right and the sanctity of the court order, we hereby demand that you immediately cease and desist from proceeding with the national congress in any way.

"Furthermore, it is our instruction to demand from you as we hereby do that you provide us with your express undertaking by no later than 5pm today, that the National Congress will not be convened, opened, or proceed in any manner whatsoever," the letter said. 

The letter said if Numsa pressed on with its national congress, the clients of the firm would approach the court on an urgent basis, to hold union leadership in contempt of court and declare the convened congress as "null and void".

READ | Suspended Numsa officials head to court to lift sanctions or halt crucial conference

Asked whether the congress would go ahead and whether the suspension of union officials was lifted, Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola told Fin24 on Monday that there would be no accreditation process for the media on that day, as the congress had been interdicted.

Some delegates at the congress told Fin24 that they had been told the congress would go ahead this week. They said the concerns of the Labour Court had been addressed and the suspensions had been lifted. Delegates in attendance on Monday said they had already started travelling to Cape Town by the time the Labour Court interdicted the event. 

Numsa national leadership plans to hold a special central committee meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the implications of the Labour Court interdict.

Numsa's Eastern Cape region urged the national leadership to issue notice for a congress on a different date to comply with the Labour Court and to cover all related travel and accommodation costs for the union's delegates. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

Government tenders

Find public sector tender opportunities in South Africa here.

Government tenders
This portal provides access to information on all tenders made by all public sector organisations in all spheres of government.
Browse tenders