In this first Numsa News in 2003, let me welcome all of you from your well-deserved annual holiday. In as much as this was a resting period from the demanding work of the Union , we also hope you found the space and time to reflect on the challenges we had to contend with in 2002. And more importantly we trust you now will work to turn around the challenges opportunities for the Union and the working class in 2003.
For those who attended the Ekurhuleni regional general meeting on February 22, (see cover pics), this represented an opportunity for the leadership and staff as we begin this year to "listen to the voice of reason" from members. This region, implementing a national decision of the Union to take the programme of organisational renewal to members, despite the difficulties we face at the beginning of the year to get members in big numbers (which also is a trend at any time of the year) to attend union general meetings, succeeded in organising a huge turnout of their members at the Kwa Thema hall. This meeting resembles a true workers' forum
Numsa Ekurhuleni region, you deserve a pat on the back for a job well done. The decisions we take in the Union – 'Ear to the ground – listen to the voice of reason' – belong to hundreds of members who were in your regional general meeting and the thousands of members in the 8 Numsa regions who still have to call regional/local general meetings.
Let us listen to the voice of reason – call general meetings.
In this Numsa News, for the voice of reason – the members, we detail struggles that our members are involved in with employers as they sell their labour. Other stories celebrate the achievements of the Union in the last 15 years of existence, and others cover workers' struggle for their dignity to earn and live a better life. As these various experiences and stories tell – members who are the bedrock of this Union are the centre of these tribulations and jubilations.
Workers at Maksal Tubes, fed up with an arrogant and provocative HR manager, declared a dispute to have this manager removed from the company. You bet, their organisational power led to an agreement with the company that this rogue element would be gone in 3 months.
Imagine what would have happened if this was an ordinary worker, a few days in a disciplinary hearing leading to a decision to join the millions of unemployed with little prospects, in this current economic environment, of finding decent work. Those rogue HR Managers in many of our companies who still believe that discipline is only meant for ordinary workers – you had better watch out – you may be next on the line – who knows?
The year ahead
The time has arrived to start preparing ourselves for the tough challenges we will face in 2003. On the bargaining front, members in the engineering, house agreements, Eskom and motor must brace themselves against the difficulties of bargaining against a background of high food prices, spiralling fuel prices and declining living standards.
The auto and tyre sectors, although not bargaining this year in terms of their three-year agreements, will participate in the process leading to the National Bargaining Conference in April 2003 as a sign of solidarity and to better the challenges we face this year which may influence their bargaining processes in 2004. It is an organisational imperative that regions and locals ensure that members are in this process from beginning to end. Each region must develop a campaign diary and set dates for shop steward councils and general meetings for members to be heard. Find out these dates from your shop stewards.
We have turned around the corner in 2002 in identifying where our problems are, what needs to be done and who should do what in the Union .
Now is the time to walk our talk!