16 August 2013

South Africa: Numsa As a Growing Trade Union

press release

As reported before, the Numsa 9th National Congress of June 2012 resolved that we should drive an aggressive recruitment campaign to organise the unorganised into Numsa.

The National Congress mandated the National Office Bearers to marshal all 9 Numsa Regions and our 52 Locals so that we achieve 400 000 members by 2016. In the past 4 months Numsa has registered the following growth;

April 2013 - 315 379

May 2013 - 318 727

June 2013 - 320 186

July 2013 - 323 295

This growth is mainly ascribed to the fact that in Numsa we insist on providing quality service to our members thereby ensuring that we are able to use the unity of metalworkers to effectively engage employers and the state.

To further enhance proper service to members, Numsa shall unveil in the December 2013 Special National Congress a Numsa Services Charter which shall set out in detail what service is to be rendered by shopstewards, officials and office bearers.

We are aware of the fact that AMCU has now turned their attention on Numsa organised companies and industries. Whereas the South African constitution provides for freedom of association, AMCU must appreciate that Numsa shall not sit back and allow them to use the genuine grievances of Numsa members, for whatever reason, to liquidate Numsa. We shall not sit back.

Collective Bargaining:

It has become evident in the 2013 wage negotiations that employers are not ready to share their wealth with metalworkers who are the main producers of that wealth.

In the motor retail sector there is an apartheid hangover of “baasskap” mentality wherein employers believe that the low wage scenario for mainly black workers is a competitive imperative for them.

Eskom management has arrogantly suggested that Numsa can toyi-toyi as much as we want to, they would stick to their 5.6% increase and 5 year duration of the agreement.

In the Auto sector we have issued a notice of strike action which commences on Monday 19th August 2013.

We are also in dispute with the following companies, which we term House Agreement companies within the iron and steel industry;

1. Arcelor Mittal

2. Medupi & Kusile

3. Hulamin

4. Xstrata

5. Envraz Highveld

6. Assmang

7. TATA Steel

8. Samancor Chrome

9. MMC Nelspruit

10. Columbus

11. BHP Billiton

Negotiations in the Tyre Manufacturing sector is still underway however employers are taking the same approach as other employers with whom we have been negotiating for months now.

Numsa remain open and available to find a settlement to the impasse in the different sectors/industries however the impatience of our members made us to undertake the following actions;

Marches/demonstrations in all nine Numsa Regions starting on 16th August 2013 in Port Elizabeth to highlight the poverty wages and conditions the motor employers are offering motor industry workers

Pickets/demonstrations in Eskom plants with the intention to embark on a full blown strike

Strike action in the Auto sector starting on Monday 19 August 2013

Strike action in the House Agreement companies (as listed above)

With the high levels of unemployment, inequalities and poverty in our country, Numsa insist that the national income, which is skewed towards the minority in our country, must be shared with the main producers of wealth which is the workers of South Africa.

Commemoration of the Marikana Massacre:

The Numsa Central Committee of 27-31 August 2013 considered what had transpired between Lonmin mineworkers and the South African Police Service (SAPS) and characterised the event as follows;

(a) The CC expressed its deep and heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the workers that perished in Marikana. The CC condemned the intransigence and insensitivity of the mine bosses towards the mining workers, and the savage, cowardly actions and excessive force used by the police, which invariably led to the deaths of 44 workers, including the police massacre of 34. Many workers were injured.

(b) The CC holds the view that organs of class rule, particularly the police, should not be used recklessly and violently to intervene in industrial disputes involving workers and bosses.

(c) The CC was adamant that what happened in Marikana should be correctly understood, and must go down in our history as the first post-apartheid South African State massacre of the organised working class, in defence of the local and international mining bosses and their profits.

(d) The CC called on the working class and poor not to be fooled and blinded by anyone, but to understand that in a capitalist state or class divided country like South Africa, the state will always act in the interests of the dominant class: the class that owns, control and commands the economy, political and social life. This is, after all, the real reason for the existence of any state! In the South African case, we understand the dominant capitalist class to be centred on the Minerals/Energy/Finance Complex axis.

We are therefore not surprised that the post 1994 South African state and government - a state and government whose strategic task and real reason for existence is the defence and sustenance of the Minerals/Energy/Finance Complex - will do anything to defend the property rights and profits of this class, including slaughtering the working class.

(e) While the CC supports the Commission of Inquiry as announced by the Head of State and leader of the African National Congress (ANC) Comrade Jacob Zuma, we believe that the Commission must act in the interest of uncovering the whole truth surrounding the unfortunate deaths of the 44 workers. Anything short of this will render the Commission useless.

(f) To safeguard the working class in this front of struggle, the Numsa Central Committee proposes that COSATU together with revolutionary formations of the working class constitute their own independent Commission of Inquiry, because going forward, the bourgeoisie and its apologists will in one way or the other use the Marikana tragedy to heighten the already active ideological and repressive offensive against the growing militancy of the working class at the point of production and in communities at large. Our militancy is not borne out of our biological makeup, but is a result of the perpetual failures of the capitalist system to resolve the problems of class forces.

(g) The Central Committee further calls for the suspension of the task force that executed the massacre. The CC calls on the Commission to find out and make public who, between the Minister of Police and the National Police Commissioner, gave orders to shoot workers with live bullets when they peacefully assembled on that fateful mountain in Marikana.

(h) NUMSA is extremely disgusted by this display of police brutality. The actions of the police confirm that we have not, post 1994, transformed the Apartheid state and its violent machinery. The actions of the police make a mockery of everything else we thought was transformed, including parliament. By this singular act, the police have violently reminded us once again what Marx and Lenin taught us about the state: that it is always an organ of class rule and class oppression and that bourgeois democracy is nothing but the best political shell behind which the bourgeoisie hides its dictatorship.

(i) The CC demands the dismissal of anyone in the police or in political office who led to the massacre of the workers.

Cosatu has, more or less, adopted the same position particularly in relation calling for an Independent Commission of Inquiry BUT given the forces inside Cosatu who subscribe to the notion of a democratic state and who want to disable Cosatu from taking up the plight of workers, Cosatu has not moved an inch to drive the call for an Independent Commission of Inquiry.

Numsa is not in agreement that the state does not want to pay for workers to participate in the Marikana Commission. It is grossly unfair when the SAPS who shot and killed workers are entitled to paid legal representation.

We must demand that Lonmin pay for the lawyers of mineworkers given that the massacre happened because of their intransigence to settle the pay dispute they had with mining workers

As we commemorate the Marikana Massacre today, Numsa stand by its analyses of Marikana within the context of an untransformed colonial South African economy which continues to see the dominance and control of our mines by White Monopoly Capital and their Imperialist allies.

Numsa on the Special Cosatu CEC

1. Numsa has been consistent in defining what is happening in Cosatu as an all-out effort by right-wing forces to rob workers of their mandate given to the consensus leadership elected in the Cosatu 11th National Congress in September 2012. In this regard our response thereto has been to;

Defend and protect the integrity of constitutional decisions of Cosatu.

Defend and advance the revolutionary socialist traditions and trajectory of Cosatu.

Prevent the conversion of Cosatu into a labour desk.

Defend and protect the revolutionary leadership of Cosatu.

Defend the unity of the federation.

Defend the revolutionary basis of the ANC led alliance and the Freedom Charter.

Ultimately, defend Cosatu itself from being destroyed!

2. We have consistently maintained that there is a concerted effort by forces within and outside COSATU to turn it from being a fighting Federation into a toothless organization. This campaign has been on-going even before the 11th Congress of COSATU. We should recall that, as far back as the 5th Central Committee held in 2011, there were efforts from within the Federation and from Alliance partners, to ensure that COSATU pronounces that the NDR is on track. This is despite the fact that the working class in many ways still experiences the most savage forms of colonial capitalist exploitation such as labour brokers, massive inequalities in income reflected in the wide apartheid wage gap and obscene executive pay, our national wealth remains concentrated in hands of the few, there continues to be unequal access to healthcare, education and housing.

3. A campaign to remove Cde Zwelinzima Vavi as the General Secretary of COSATU failed in the 11th Congress. However, the forces that are driving this campaign continued to operate to render the Federation ineffective.

There was an attempt to remove the General Secretary of COSATU in the February 2013 CEC, it failed. There was yet another attempt to remove the General Secretary of COSATU in the May 2013 CEC, this too failed. Since the 11th Congress, the forces that are ranged against the General Secretary of COSATU have ensured that COSATU is in paralysis and CEC meetings never discussed any substantive policy issues that are related to the 11th Congress resolutions or the March 2013 Cosatu Campaigns, Organising and Collective Bargaining resolutions.

4. We have said that the forces that are ranged against the General Secretary of the Federation will escalate the genuine mistake of the General Secretary (for which he has apologised to the broader society, Cosatu membership, Corruption Watch including the Cosatu Special CEC of 14th August 2013) to aid them in their political battle. The unconstitutional COSATU Special CEC meeting held on the 14 August 2013 was an opportunistic attempt to escalate this issue into a factional one, as we have predicted.

5. As NUMSA we are clear that there are attempts to divide the Federation, to ensure that the Federation fails to implement its radical programme, and to reduce the Federation into a labour desk of the bourgeoisie. We will continue to resist this ideological and political degeneration of our Federation.

6. We still maintain that, independent of whether Cde Zwelinzima Vavi remains the General Secretary of COSATU or not, there is an irreparable ideological rupture in the Federation. This rupture is fundamentally between those who want a toothless COSATU and those who want the Federation to continue to advance the interests of the poor.

7. The forces of capitalism seek to ensure that the Federation embraces the continuation of neo-liberalism in the NDP while maintaining leftist rhetoric. In NUMSA we are clear that without the nationalisation of the mines, the banks and monopoly industries, there is no way that this country can be fundamentally changed.

8. For the record we must say the following about what we have witnessed and experienced since the September 2012 September Cosatu National Congress;

Numsa has been made out to be obsessed with the leadership of Zwelinzima Vavi at the exclusion of the other Cosatu National Office Bearers.

This is not so. We are obsessed with the implementation of the Cosatu resolutions which is about the most resolute implementation of the Freedom Charter - which Cosatu calls the “Lula Moment” for South Africa.

We must say that in our observation the Cosatu NOB's has not demonstrated any willingness to champion the campaigns and resolutions of the Cosatu 11th National Congress and the March 2013 Cosatu Campaigns, Organising and Collective Bargaining resolutions. All of a sudden they are revived after the suspension of the Cosatu General Secretary.

9. NUMSA does not recognize the decision of the unconstitutional CEC and is consulting its lawyers about this matter.

10. We will continue with our political campaign to expose the class forces that are hell bent on rendering the Federation ineffective.

In conclusion:

Numsa is inspired by the following words of wisdom which has emerged from the writings by Comrade Mzala (Jabulani Nxumalo) 1985 - Cooking the rise inside the pot. We quote a few excerpts from this consistent, committed and outstanding revolutionary;

“Our people have long ago discovered that what is needed in South Africa is a new society, a new political and economic system, a radical change of all that is existing.

In any democratic republic it is absolutely necessary to convene an assembly of people's representatives, elected on the basis of universal and equal suffrage, by secret ballot. The People's Assembly will promulgate laws that will declare all racist laws null and void; it will pass laws that are in conformity with the Freedom Charter.

Our revolution in South Africa can be victorious only when it mobilises and organises the masses at the grass-roots levels; it can be an invincible force only when it is an offshoot of the embattled workers, rural toilers and other democratic forces. The decisive role of the masses in revolution cannot be substituted by an elite corps of professional revolutionaries. We seek to establish the power of the people and not of the vanguard movement.”

Issued by the Numsa National Office Bearers

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