In his opening address, Numsa President, Mtutuzeli Tom reminded shopstewards that they are the foot soldiers of this organization. Shopstewards must mobilise their members to support and be able to go on strike for their demands.
"No trade union can exist without collective bargaining – it is our core business," he told the 140 delegates. "A trade union that doesn't negotiate on behalf of its members cannot be called a trade union." The myth that organised trade unions are an "elite" is but a myth.
"Since the inception of Numsa and looking back into our history, we have always been able to develop policy to address the social and economic issues of the poor." "Metalworkers and particularly Numsa members cannot be observers in their own struggle.
When we call general meetings our members would rather go and play 'ama lotto, tata ma chance, tata a ma millions'. "It is therefore important for shopstewards to play that leading role and exercise their leadership by mobilising and educating our members not only to be geared up to strike for wages but all the other important demands that affect them.
"This union is a giant and this giant must roar, employers must hear us when we negotiate. "The nine regions worked very hard to prepare for this important conference, but democracy is a painful exercise.
All the positions will not be the final product of this meeting". "Negotiations are a give and take as long as the unions don't sell their principles."