By Busi Chimombe
JOHANNESBURG, June 10 — The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), the country’s single largest trade union with about 338,000 members, believes it has reached the end of the road in its efforts to be re-instated into the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the largest labour federation.
Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim said here Tuesday that following the court’s dismissal of its appeal against its expulsion from Cosatu, any reinstatement can now only take place at the labour federation’s ordinary congress in November.
The High Court in Johannesburg had ruled that the union’s application was not urgent as it had had a number of opportunities to appeal its expulsion from the federation as early as February this year. Jim said he was not hopeful that the appeal to Cosatu will be fruitful.
“There is nothing stopping (Cosatu President) S’dumo Dlamini, who is hostile to Numsa, being in Cosatu …. am saying it is high time for us to be able to reflect and it is time for us to debate, yes there is an alternative,” said Jim.
Former Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the writing was on the wall with respect to the formation of a new labour federation in the country. Vavi said workers who are Numsa members have no choice but to start their own federation.
Meanwhile, Cosatu welcomed the court’s decision and said it would now forge ahead with preparations for the Special National Congress, starting with a meeting to sort out the accreditation of delegates this week.
Acting Cosatu General Secretary Bheki Nthalinthali said unity within the federation was still on track despite Cosatu’s former largest affiliate being barred from attending.
“Unity is not the unity of Numsa, unity is the unity of workers based on principles. What we will be debating in a Special Congress will be the principles that are the foundation of this federation. Anyone who contravenes those principles cannot be regarded as contributing to the unity of Cosatu,” said Nthalinthali.
He added that Numsa was not contributing to unity within Cosatu.