Vuka Vuka Numsa

At the Numsa Central Committee (CC) that took place from June 24 to 26, delegates adopted proposals developed at regional and national organisational renewal workshops since late last year. These proposals cover the following areas:

Locals Structures and Operations National Organising and Collective Bargaining Programme Membership Systems And Finance Management Numsa Membership Benefits Staff Development Programme

CC delegates also added another project "Members must have their say". This project must make sure that members have a chance to say how Numsa can improve itself and what they want from Numsa. It is up to regions, locals and shop stewards to create the space for members to do this.

Below we give you the details of the proposals for renewing the Locals and for assessing Numsa membership benefits. Get a copy of the full report from your region or local office.

Assessing our membership benefits

Our traditional approach to membership benefits has been that providing benefits to members was the responsibility of employers, especially because our membership was drawn from the lowest paid workers. We also didn't want unions to become benefit societies but rather to build them as organs of worker power to advance worker interests.

Today we have a new strata of better paid members and generally membership needs appear to hav e changed.

In our consultations, participants said that members across the board required additional assistance from the union. Examples given were:

Support for loans and protection against loan sharks Bursary for further education for members and their families Legal assistance on matters other than work­place issues Support for ex- Numsa members who are cur­rently unemployed.

ProposalsCommission a study on the feasibility of expanding NUMSA benefits to members. The study should look into the following:

The examples of benefits offered by other unions in South Africa and other parts of the world The potential of the Numsa Investment Com­pany to raise funds. Possible demands we could make on employ­ers for extended benefits.

Renewing the LocalsRenewal Objective: We must review our local structures as well as our capacity to organise and deliver basic services to our membership.

The Problem this Objective addresses:There is consensus that our organising activities and our service to members is weak. Part of the problem relates to weakness in our national strat­egy and the inefficiency in our structures.

Major weaknesses lie in our regional and local organising strategies and staff capacity.

Our contact and communication with work­places are weak or often non-existent. Our shopstewards structures at workplace and local level are weak.

Our strategies to deal with issues such as restructuring, the Skills and Equity Acts, etc. are poorly developed. Many of our local organisers lack basic skills to deal with new and more complex issues. Administrator s at local level are under­utilised and could play a stronger support role to organisers beyond administration Staff work in an isolated way and get poor support from regions. We do not have a deployment strategy to enable staff to specialise and give support to each other We do not have policy that would help us recruit the required skills nor a programme to upgrade skills of existing staff. Local offices have been neglected and are poorly resourced.

The Proposals

Review and redesign our strategies and structures at the local level so that we are able to organise and provide improved services to our members. In particular develop recommendations on how the following could be achieved:

The local office could be transformed and properly resourced so that it becomes: an efficient centre of information and communication for shopstewards and members an acceptable working environ­ment for staff and members the work of the local administrators could be changed so that they play a stronger support role to our organising and service activities.

The local organisers would work in a more efficient and effec­tive way be given greater support by the region be re-deployed so that they work in teams of specialists Develop a system of setting work objectives and mechanisms to monitor the work of local staff and the local as a whole Develop a training plan to upgrade the skills of local staff Review existing policy and develop practices that would ensure that new staff appoint­ments are based on the ability to perform at the required levels.

The above proposals should be implemented through a process of pilot studies and participative research, which will actively involve organisers and local administrators.