NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Numsa National Executive Committee (NEC) statement

23 July 2015, Posted in Press Releases

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) held its ordinary and scheduled National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, from Tuesday 21 July to Thursday 23 July, at Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference Centre, Newtown, Johannesburg.

The NEC was attended by the National Office Bearers, elected NEC members from our nine Regions, as well as representatives from our sub-structures, namely our Youth Forum; Gender and National Education Committees.

The NEC received a comprehensive analysis of the current political and organisational challenges confronting the union.  We spent considered time hearing different perspectives, openly debating and collectively agreeing on solutions which will best serve our members.

A. On Cosatu

It is not surprising that the so-called Cosatu Special National Congress confirmed the positions taken by the S’dumo faction of National Office Bearers. If you are also the referee and make up the rules it is much easier to win the game. The composition of the delegations to the congress was the result of a highly manipulated process.

Over the last months, hundreds of shop stewards, office bearers and staff have been purged from many of the unions present. Not satisfied with that, a court order to accredit legitimate Satawu delegates was defied. Even then they were not sufficiently confident that they would win the vote. They had to resort to extraordinary measures, banning the media and consistently refusing a ballot, in favour of a show of hands. In the face of such manipulation, it was workers’ democracy which died in Cosatu on 13 -14 July 2015.

The NEC appreciated the principled, courageous stance of the affiliates that have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us, since our illegal expulsion during the night of the long knives and backstabbing on 7 November 2014. Their bravery has been a living expression of the worker’s battle slogan “an injury to one, is an injury to all”, amidst malicious and demonizing allegations made by Cosatu’s National Office Bearers, particularly by S’dumo Dlamini, in collaboration with his political handlers in the SA Communist Party and African National Congress.

Our NEC’s discussion on the outcomes of the Special National Congress was comradely and frank as usual. The discussion concluded with a resolution which noted that:

• The fraudulent capturing of the Cosatu Special National Congress did not at all achieve the unity and cohesion inside Cosatu or the leadership change that the 9 unions called for when they submitted their constitutional request for the Congress two years back.

• The unconstitutional conduct of the majority in the Cosatu CEC, led by the factional national leadership clique, has killed all prospects of reclaiming Cosatu as an independent, democratic, worker controlled, militant, socialist orientated and anti-imperialist trade union federation.

• The ANC, SACP and the State have succeeded in capturing and redirecting Cosatu to become a mere instrument for securing the votes of the working class every 5 years, with absolutely no Cosatu fighting workers program of action to deal with the job blood bath we see in retrenchments, increased levels of unemployment, poverty, inequality and corruption.

• Cosatu has effectively been stolen by the state. S’dumo Dlamini is only a pawn in a bigger class and state initiative to hijack the Cosatu of Elijah Barayi and use it as a means of controlling the organized working class in the interests of the ruling comprador bourgeoisie.

The NEC concluded that Numsa, together with other affiliates in the Group of 9+ unions, has done everything in its power to reclaim Cosatu, through its legal and organizational endeavours. The time has arrived to start with the building blocks of forming a new independent, democratic, worker controlled, militant, anti-imperialist trade union federation.

We must deal with the fact that 70% of workers employed within the South African economy are not unionized and that the Cosatu 30 year old resolution of One Country-One Federation has not and shall not be realized in Cosatu’s current form and Alliance with the ANC and the SACP.

The NEC also resolved to convene provincial workers summits to discuss and convey the central message, and to engage all like-minded affiliates inside Cosatu and unions outside Cosatu to ensure that we share with the rank and file the inevitability of our failure to reclaim Cosatu.

Before the end of July, we will convene a Special Joint NEC of the 9+ unions to discuss the roadmap towards a National Workers Summitto take palce during the month of October 2015. It should include representatives of workers inside and outside Cosatu, with an agenda to talk about the future of the labour movement in South Africa.

B. Marikana report

The NEC discussed the Farlam Commission’s Report as publicly released by State President Jacob Zuma, on the circumstances that led to the Marikana Massacre on August 12, 2012.

The NEC reaffirmed its position that the Marikana massacre shall go down in history as the first post-Apartheid massacre committed against workers by the democratic State.

It concluded that the report was a whitewash and made a mockery of the massacre that occurred at Marikana.
In the interest of bringing justice and lasting closure for those workers killed, those workers who remain and the widows and families of the victims, the NEC made the following demands;

The National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega should be relieved of her duties with immediate effect; she and others implicated should be prosecuted for their role in the massacre;

The Farlam report must be given to an independent tribunal to review Farlam’s failure to draw the proper conclusions from the evidence in front of him. In particular, the actions of the former Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa and the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa must be re-evaluated so that they are held properly accountable for their actions in instigating the massacre.

We must not stand by and see, yet again, officials take the rap for the sins of their Executive masters.

C. Shop Steward Elections

The NEC put the final touches to the Numsa shop steward election process which is about to start. This is the engine of our democracy, a process which defines us as a trade union. Every four years every shop steward and every office bearer from the local to the national level is re-elected. This is the foundation of worker democracy, a higher level of democracy than any other.

It is a process of renewal for the union. The NEC called on Numsa members to think hard about the qualities they are looking of in a shop steward as they go through the election process. Only courageous, dedicated, militant shop stewards will take forward their interests over the next four years.

D. United Front and Movement for Socialism

The NEC approved a plan for policy workshops at regional and national levels to further discuss progress and policy for the United Front and the Movement for Socialism. In Numsa’s time-honoured, democratic manner, policy documents have been circulated to regions and locals for discussion throughout the union.

In this process, Numsa will firm up its positions on key issues of the character of the United Front ahead of the projected national launch in December. There will also be lively debate on the nature of the working class political organ, leading to a Central Committee decision at the end of the year.

E. Organisational issues

The NEC dedicated much of its time to organisational issues currently confronting the union.  The NEC appreciated the immense responsibilities faced by our union, particularly since we have extended our scope of organising. We noted the continued growth of the union and acknowledged the fact that we are the fastest-growing union in South Africa and globally. The NEC was united in its view that we need to strengthen our organisational capacity in order to fully provide quality service to our members.

In light of a number of challenges confronting the union, given the growth in our membership, the successes in extending our scope of organising and the continued attempts by bosses to weaken the bargaining power of the union in the sectors where we organise, the NEC decided to review our current Collective Bargaining Strategy.

This will enable us to prepare more fully for the 2016 round of bargaining negotiations, ensuring that we better serve the demands of our members and once again set the pace for changing the conditions of workers and the poor in our country.

We note the continued attacks on our bargaining councils aimed at weakening our capacity within the sectors in which we organise. the NEC affirmed that our renewed Collective Bargaining Strategy will challenge this head on!

Over the next 6 months the union will convene a National Bargaining Conference where new strategic perspectives will be discussed.

F. Steel industry and job losses

The NEC was highly concerned about the growing jobs bloodbath in the precious metal and steel industry which is the backbone of Numsa’s membership base and a foundation of our manufacturing industry. Evraz Highveld steel is under business rescue and has issued a s189 notice proposing the retrenchment of over 1000 workers. Macsteel has served a s198 notice to the union proposing the retrenchment of over 600 workers. Trident Steel has recently dismissed over 700 workers.

Scaw Metals is bleeding. ArcelorMittal is on the brink of closing its Vereeniging plant which employs over 1000 workers and has been operating for over one hundred years. Where will our auto manufacturing industry be, together with its supplier base of component manufacturers, without South African steel and South African aluminium? Already, our faxes and emails are bloated with notices from the bosses on retrenchments; liquidations, lay-offs and company closures.

Obviously this will have serious and negative consequences not only for our ailing economy, but for the thousands of families that are dependent for survival on those employed in this strategic industry. Our country is well-known for being Olympic Gold medalists in the highest number of service delivery protests, in youth unemployment, and in inequality, as a result of the wrong, failed and disastrous economic policies of our once beloved, now neoliberal ANC government.

It is well past time for the government to protect our steel industry. We have met with Directors General of the DTI and EDD and they have indicated that they will support a comprehensive application for the whole steel industry to ITAC to push them to increase the tariff to protect the local steel industry. This matter is now extremely urgent.

In 1994 manufacturing accounted for 23% of GDP. In 2015 it now accounts for only 11% of GDP thereby suggesting a decline in the manufacturing industry. This decline is a direct result of ANC’s neo-liberal policies which allows China to dump products into our economy at the expense of local production. This is confirmation that the ANC government does not work in the interests of the working class and the poor and are therefore directly responsible for deepening the employment crisis.

The NEC welcomed the attempts being made by our national leadership in turning the tide of retrenchments.  They have decisively intervened in a number of retrenchments underway, defending jobs!  This work will continue.

G. The electricity crisis and the proposed nuclear build

The government initiative to bring nuclear power will make this situation worse. It will cost the fiscus more than 1 trillion Rand. There has been no transparent process or debate with social classes on what is likely to be disastrous results of such a programme:

• No one in government has provided a reasonable estimate of the cost to build these stations.

• The result will be huge electricity price increases which will lead, amongst other things, to the shutting down of smelters. Eight thousand direct jobs will be lost in Glencore alone.

• Companies will continue to mine but will export ore for smelting and in effect will export jobs.

• If steel is not produced in SA, local downstream manufacturers will be forced to import steel, driving down their competitiveness putting them totally at the mercy of international steel merchants and smelters;

• Local content of most SA manufacturers at the moment is based on steel and labour content. If the steel content is removed, there is no reason to manufacture anything in South Africa.

• Auto companies who contribute 11% of manufacturing output would have no incentive to remain in South Africa if they cannot take advantage of APDP incentives acquired through the use of local raw materials. For example, Mercedes Benz relies on the aluminium it sources locally. If there is no BHP Billiton, there is no Mercedes Benz.

• Glencore, BHP Billiton, Samancor, Sasol, Arcellor Mittal SA as well as the mining industry who are all companies that use large amounts of power and also all contribute massively to employment will be crippled.

• This is going to be bigger than the arms deal .

• We reject load–shedding: it is destroying manufacturing industry; It is destroying jobs; It is preventing working class communities from benefiting from electrification

• We must reject privatisation of Eskom. It must be nationalised and subsidised as a strategic resource

H. National Day of Action – August 19 2015

The NEC endorsed the proposed plan for the National Day of Action against Corruption to take place on the Wednesday 19 August 2015. The union has filed a Section 77 application with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) in order to legally protect our members so they can participate in marches that will take place around major cities and small towns across the country.

I. Nkandla

The ANC government has undermined the recommendations of the Public Protectors office.  Numsa rejects the report exonerating the President that was released by the Minister of Police. We demand that all money as identified by the Public Protectors report not related to security upgrades should be paid back.

J. Sabotage of the Motor Industry Administration Agreement

The NEC condemned the sabotage by the Retail Motor Industry of Jakkie Olivier which has collapsed an administration agreement. The effect of this is to prevent collection of workers’ retirement contributions for both pension and provident funds In addition the NEC demanded that employers in the component manufacturing sector must pay workers when they have a doctor’s certificate and then claim themselves from the sick pay fund.

The NEC endorsed mobilisation for strike action against these saboteurs. the motor industry administration agreement.  It is clear that there is an offensive by the DOL on our union in an effort to frustrate our efforts to have our bargaining arrangements ratified and extended.  We have experienced this in the MEIBC and now in Mibco.

K. Cedric Gina’s allegations

The NEC took note of the malicious, defamatory and slanderous accusations made by Cedric Gina, during a public debate on SAfm on Monday 20 July 2015. Among many lies peddled, he openly defamed one of Numsa’s senior officials with baseless accusations of corruption.This defamation of character,is a crude attempt to undermine Numsa in the eyes of workers.

The NEC has correctly taken a decision to sue Cedric Gina for making these unsubstantiated claims. We are doing this not to milk Gina’s fat pockets, but to stop his loose tongue.

We shall also legally pursue Sdumo Dlamini for the allegations he made that Numsa member’s funds were used to buy alcohol and drugs.

L. End the economic blockade of Cuba

The NEC started on the day (21 July 2015) when the Socialist Republic of Cuba’s flag flew high in the skies at the bastion of imperialism and capitalism, the United States (US), as part of the renewed ties between the two countries. Numsa has been an integral part of international working class formations campaigning for uplifting the unjust economic embargo imposed on the Cubans owing to their chosen path of development – Socialism. Numsa views these cozy ties with a suspicious eye!  We continue to call for the end to the economic blockade against Cuba.

H. The Greek situation

The situation in Greece, since the working class overwhelmingly rejected the austerity measures, imposed by the unelected European Troika is unacceptable. The capitulation of Syriza, to agree to privatisation is suicidal for the Greece working class and not boding well for the unity of the working class in Europe.

Contact:
Karl Cloete
Deputy General Secretary, 083 389 0777