Numsa members sang and danced in the theatre park across the road from Cosatu house in Joburg, where a special central executive committee meeting is being held.
A stage and speakers were set up where National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) leaders would give their members updates throughout the day.
The special central executive committee is expected to decide on Numsa’s future in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
The metal workers’ union has to give the central executive committee reasons why it should not be expelled or suspended for contravening the trade union federation’s constitution.
Before heading into the meeting Numsa president Andrew Chirwa told supporters the leaders came to greet them before they entered the “slaughter house”.
“We are on our way to the slaughter house where Numsa will be slaughtered today,” he told the crowd.
However, he said Numsa would fight.
“If they think it’s the end of the road they got something coming.”
Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete told union members they were the owners of Cosatu and they should retain that ownership.
“Today is the beginning of the end and it is the beginning of a new era for workers in South Africa,” he said.
For two years Cosatu had been a “spook” and a shadow of itself.
“It can’t even begin to organise you for a living wage campaign ... Sies Cosatu, sies,” he said.
Numsa members shouted back “sies”.
Cloete said Cosatu’s unity was more important than individuals.
“Cosatu is a bulldog without teeth. It barks but nobody cares.”