Editorial: We struggle and work in difficult times

As we go into publication for this edition of the Numsa Bulletin, we are confronted by and expected to:

Develop an organisational response and perspective on Stats South Africa's calculation of the CPI-X. To what extent should we agree that the drastic changes to the CPI-X do not represent a response to labour’s demands, particularly metalworkers and mineworkers.

Secondly, to work towards achieving at all costs, the targets set by the Governor of the Reserve Bank on inflation of between 3% and 6%. decide in this collective bargaining round, whether we will accept an offer from Seifsa and RMI that excludes the improvement factor as decided by the National Bargaining Conference.

After the Growth and Development Summit, take up the window of opportunity for the unemployed through Public Works Programmes (PWPs) but more importantly, engage in Nedlac on the real causes of unemployment. provide an organisational response to the genuine struggles in Iscor which were turned to destabilise the region and the national union.

The turn-around on the CPI-XWe suspect as we write this editorial that the current CPI-X was fixed to moderate demands from labour in this bargaining round. What we think we should do is to stick to the CPI-X plus an improvement factor.

On what basis would you explain that the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Reserve Bank had no prior knowledge that there was a miscalculation of the CPI-X? This may be a deliberate action to achieve the Reserve Bank inflation targets in the shortest possible time.

On the current collective bargaining round‘Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head.

They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children………..’Extract from Amilcar Cabral ‘Revolution in Guinea’As we were going to the printers on this bulletin, our negotiators were locked in serious and difficult negotiations with Seifsa, the RMI, Eskom and the House Agreements companies.

In the recent Numsa Central Committee that assessed the bargaining process, even though many regions were not prepared to commit themselves to a decision to embark on protected industrial action in the event that negotiations deadlock, we resolved that the union ‘should raise the stakes’ in the event of a deadlock as a bargaining tactic.

It seems as though from the analysis of the bargaining process in the Engineering and Motor Sector that we will have to consider some form of industrial action to twist the arm of employers on some of the most contentious issues, labour brokers and guaranteed increases on actuals.

As we have said before, no amount of good English and the best negotiating tactics would twist employers if the union cannot as part of its bargaining power, resort to industrial action.

A union that cannot embark on industrial action when the need arises is not worth what it claims to be, a united, revolutionary metalworkers. If the dispute in Engineering is resolved, we may have to consider what additional form of industrial action we should take against motor employers.

On the Growth and Development SummitWe should note with disappointment that the process leading up to the Growth and Development Summit was not an Alliance driven process. In the Ekurhuleni Declaration, the Alliance partners agreed to develop a common platform of issues to be negotiated with capital in Nedlac.

The agreement signed in the Growth and Development Summit, although weak on substance and process, presents a window of opportunity for further engagement. There are commitments to job creation through PWP’s, support for co-operatives and local development processes. It is at the level of the local authority that our members will have to play an important role on issues of local development.

An occupation at Numsa Head Office that never wasA calculated occupation of Numsa Head Office took place recently by a group of Iscor workers to try and compel the national union to accede to certain demands.

This failed occupation was intended to dent the image of the union and to set a precedent for the rest to follow. We knew in advance that there were these plans to occupy and threaten the leadership, and we acted accordingly in the best interests of the union.

One shopsteward who participated in this occupation, not knowing its intentions, was heard saying – ‘Comrades, what we are doing is wrong.

On what basis are we demonstrating and chanting slogans against our union?’As a result of this comment, the occupation was unable to achieve what it was intended to.

We will remain vigilant and will ensure that the best interests of Numsa members in Iscor are protected and the national union deals with its primary class enemy, capital. No one will change us from this course of action.

On the Decisions of the Numsa Central CommitteeWe had a successful Numsa Central Committee that was robust and constructive on the challenges facing the union, the liberation movement and problems posed by new global environment. Amongst other things that we discussed were the following;

A further analysis of the post-war Iraqi situation, the Bush visit to parts of Africa and what it meant for American foreign policy.

The Central Committee adjourned its proceeding on the 9th July 2003 and joined a demonstration by Ford workers and subsequently became part of the alliance to the American Embassy in Pretoria.

We also discussed the Numsa W. Tvl situation and resolved that this does not pose a crises for the national union and neither should it be allowed as a point of entry to destabilise the region and the national union and the NOBs should act with speed to ensure that sanity prevails in the Western Transvaal.

The Central Committee bid farewell to one of its outstanding leaders, cde Vincent Mabuyakhulu who has been recalled by the ANC to take up his position as a Member of Parliament.

It further resolved that his position as the 1st Vice President will remain vacant subject to the November Central Committee deciding on whether this matter should not be deferred to the electing Numsa national congress in 2004.

The Central Committee further discussed the Programme of Action for the forthcoming Numsa shopstewards elections in September 2003 and resolved that regions will develop regional specific plans for the elections. On the theme for the elections, it resolved on ‘Invest in your future, elect a leader’.

On the September Cosatu National Congress, we resolved to work harder in ensuring that this congress, a workers' parliament to reflect on the past and present experiences, becomes a success.

A united, strong COSATU represents a united and strong Numsa, a weak federation represents weak affiliatesAs we resolved in the Cosatu Special CEC of the 16th and 17th July 2003, Numsa and Cosatu locals/regions must convene workers' forums to discuss issues for the Cosatu congress.

There is no better cause than taking the federation to where it belongs – members.

On a more serious note, as we struggle to improve the lives and working conditions of the metalworkers of South Africa, a bigger challenge is how we turn the tide of despair, poverty and under development in the African continent.

In the United Nations General Assembly in 1964, Ernesto Che Guevara aptly captures the above – “I am a patriot of Latin America and of all Latin American countries.

Whenever necessary, I would be ready to lay down my life for the liberation of any Latin American country, without asking anything from anyone, without demanding anything, without exploiting anyone. And this is not just the frame of mind of the individual addressing this assembly at present; it is the frame of the entire Cuban people.

The entire Cuban people feel it whenever an injustice is committed not only in Latin America but anywhere in the world.

We can quote the marvellous words of Marti that we often repeat – ‘Every true man must feel on his own cheek every blow struck against the other cheek’.

That, distinguished representatives, (my inclusion) should be the feeling of all people of South Africa.

Let the struggle for the emancipation of the African Continent continue!

Aluta Continua!!!Silumko NondwanguGeneral Secretary


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