NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Of health, safety and gender

10 March 2004, Posted in News

Health and safety, HIV/Aids and gender co-ordinator, Selinah Tyikwe , told Numsa Bulletin of plans for her department this year.

What should shop stewards and officials be doing around health and safety?

Last year we developed a health and safety policy. We have asked regions to identify their regional needs and send them to head office so that we can fund their activities. Regions should facilitate training of officials so that they can take back the issues to members.

Who will do the training?

We have just held a workshop in KZN for some officials and gender activists. The industrial health unit in Durban facilitated it. Regions around Gauteng released one health and safety activist to attend that workshop. When they come back we can sit down and based on that, develop our own material to assist other regions. Those activists will form the health and safety national committee to plan for other training.

If there are shop stewards that are finding that workplaces are particularly bad with regard to health and safety, what should they do?

If there are issues that we need to attend to immediately, shop stewards must raise those issues for our attention. Regions are already sending us that information. We have been busy with Haggie Rand and a powder coating company in Germiston.

And what about gender?

The national gender meeting on March 8-9 will develop a programme for the year including the build up to national congress. We will also hold a national gender conference before the national congress. We will be preparing women, assisting them to begin to deal with issues, begin to prepare resolutions and ensure our active participation in that coming congress.

What about gender structures?

Integration does not develop leadership of women. And the co-ordination of women by regional educators does not expose women to issues. So we will discuss the question of structures, begin to talk about the question leading up to the congress. That is why we are convening this national meeting so that women can begin to talk about this and popularise it. If we have parallel gender structures, they will assist us to develop the leadership of women.

Can you explain how the parallel structures work? Should they set them up now, or wait for guidelines?

They can start now. At factory level, you have a shop steward committee but you also have your gender committee dealing with gender related matters. The gender committee can be workers only. If there are issues from the gender committee that need to be taken to management, it would have to raise those issues with the shop steward committee. Where possible, shop stewards need to negotiate that gender representatives should be part of those meetings with management if women on the gender committee are not shop stewards.

Shop stewards would then report back to the gender committee and then to workers on the outcome of the meeting with management. The local should also have a gender sub-structure that reports to local office bearers.

Are there any specific issues that people should highlight or is it up to shop stewards or gender representatives to find out from members what they want?

We will be guided by the upcoming national meeting, but the question of the quota as adopted at the Cosatu congress is important. We have not done much to ensure that women occupy strategic positions. But we can change that with the use of the quota.

Resolution on the quota from Cosatu’s 8 th National Congress, September 2003

“The quota system applicable to the Federation shall be set by the CEC, and quota systems applicable to affiliates shall be set by affiliates. Quotas shall be based on the share of women in membership and the need to rapidly develop women leadership.”

Read the upcoming Numsa News to find out what’s planned on HIV/Aids.