Numsa hit with letter of demand as Western Cape region walks out of interdicted congress

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Numsa secretary-general Irvin Jim.
Numsa secretary-general Irvin Jim.
Photo: Netwerk24
  • Lawyers of suspended National Union of Metalworkers officials sent a letter of demand to the union asking for minutes of its recent meetings.
  • Numsa announced on Wednesday morning that it would appeal the Labour Court's interdict on its congress and push ahead with the event.
  • Numsa's Western Cape secretary Vuyo Lufele and his region staged a walk-out from the congress, stating that its commencement was in contempt of court.
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Suspended National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) officials have asked the union for the minutes of a meeting where it was decided to continue holding Numsa's interdicted national congress. Lawyers acting on behalf of the officials want the minutes by Wednesday afternoon.

Numsa announced on Wednesday that it would appeal the Labour Court ruling interdicting its congress, citing errors in the judgment. The union also claimed that its special central committee (SCC) had resolved the Labour Court's concerns about the congress, allowing the meeting to begin on Wednesday.

The Labour Court interdicted the congress from taking place as it found that 31 officials were suspended ahead of the event in a manner that was "unconstitutional, invalid, and unenforceable in law".

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

On behalf of the suspended officials, Ahmed Gani Attorneys said in its letter of demand its clients' view remains that Numsa had not complied with Labour Court Judge Graham Moshoana's court order.

In the letter, lawyer Yusuf Sujee asked for Numsa to provide the minutes of the SCC meeting and the credentials committee meeting by Wednesday afternoon.

"Before we approach the court for the appropriate relief, we are instructed to demand that your offices provide us with the minutes of the special central committee meeting which took place on Tuesday 26 July 2022 at 08:00," the letter said.

Western Cape walk-out

While the congress was verifying regional credentials, Numsa's Western Cape secretary Vuyo Lufele and his region's delegates staged a walk-out from the congress on Wednesday morning, saying that the gathering was occurring in contempt of court and could not be valid.  

Lufele, who would have contested for the position of Numsa secretary-general had he stayed, said Numsa's Mpumalanga region was improperly excluded from the congress.

"We left this congress because it is in contempt of the court judgment. Numsa must comply fully with the court judgment before it can convene this conference and Numsa [has] failed to do so," Lufele told Fin24.

Numsa secretary-general Irvin Jim told delegates that Numsa's appeal of the Labour Court judgment and its SCC meeting put the congress in good standing to commence. He said the expectation of his detractors that Numsa leadership collapse the congress - which cost R39 million to arrange - would be unacceptable.

During his address to delegates, members were seen entering the hall, to which Jim said some Western Cape regional delegates had returned.

READ | Chaos looms as Numsa delegates arrive for interdicted congress

Urgent appeals

The Labour Court directed the lawyers of Numsa and the suspended officials to make their submissions to the court by the close of business on Wednesday. Numsa's appeal is expected to be heard on an urgent basis.

"The Honourable Judge Moshoana hereby directs that both the applicant and the respondent are to file their written submission in support of the application for leave to appeal by no later than 18:00 on 27 July 2022," the Labour Court stated in a letter to both parties.

The suspended officials claim their suspension was aimed at keeping them from contesting national positions at the union's congress. Numsa said its special central committee meeting on Tuesday rectified the Labour Court's concerns, allowing the gathering to continue on Wednesday.

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