NUMSA EXPULSION FALLOUT: Eastern Cape unions divided

NOVEMBER 13, 2014

Hardly a week after the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) expelled the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), discord has reportedly begun surfacing in the federation’s national structures – including in the Eastern Cape.

The Eastern Cape chapters of the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) are not agreeing on the decision last weekend by Cosatu’s central Executive Committee to expel Numsa. SAMWU is standing by NUMSA while NUM is siding with the COSATU Exec Committee.

According to the Daily Dispatch, five out of six South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) regions, with the exception of Butterworth, have joined the NUMSA camp.

However, the Eastern Cape Police, Prisons and Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) is supporting NUMSA’s expulsion.

On Monday, COSATU Eastern Cape provincial secretary MacVicar Dyasopu distanced his office from the decision to expel NUMSA was “without a mandate”, was reckless and aimed at creating a “sweetheart union”.

However, Eastern Cape POPCRU Chairman Loyiso Mdingi said Dyasopu had no mandate to speak for POPCRU as COSATU provincial leaders were there to listen to members.

A special meeting that was called to discuss the decision to expel Numsa on Wednesday could not happen after delegates failed to reach a required minimum number of attendees.

Only the Democratic Nurses Organisation of SA (DENOSA), SADTU, Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) and Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) showed up for the meeting.

Cosatu Eastern Cape provincial secretary MacVicar Dyasopu said the poor showing was the result of uncertainty resulting from the current turmoil in the federation which followed after seven Cosatu affiliates suspended their membership.

“It could be uncertainty on the part of some affiliates as to how to get involved in Cosatu matters now that their membership has been suspended from Cosatu. We have four affiliates and we need nine to form a quorum, so we could not go on with the meeting,” said Dyasopu.

National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) provincial secretary Xolani Malamlela said his union could not send delegates to the meeting as it was “busy trying to resolve the ongoing strike that is currently taking place at the Bhisho Legislature.”

Cracks reflect national trend

Earlier in the week, COSATU General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, did not hidden his feelings that the federation should not have expelled NUMSA. 

In a letter to COSATU President, Sdumo Dlamini, all COSATU affiliates general secretaries and provincial secretaries, Vavi said he would not defend COSATU's decision to expel NUMSA adding that the decision undermines and contradicts working class unity.

Read the letter here.

Read NUMSA's letter of expulsion here.

Read more: Eastern Cape Cosatu Breaks Rank And Sides With NUMSA.