NUMSA 7th National Congress

National Congress

On behalf of the newly elected national office bearers, I wish to thank staff who worked tirelessly to make sure that we were ready for this historic event. We could have done much better had we prepared our delegates on issues that matter most – members, members and members – rather than a focus on personal ambitions. I am hoping that all of us have drawn lessons that leaders come and go, but the organisation remains.

On the part of members and delegates, you independently provided leadership in the National Congress. The task ahead is to walk together in this second decade of democracy to realise what we have always believed in: “building a united, revolutionary metalworkers union.”

What has Congress mandated us to do?

On the political front:

reclaim the role of workers and the working class as agents for change to emancipate socio-economic transformation.
This means raising class consciousness in the organisation – developing a political education programme that responds to the needs and aspirations of metalworkers and the working class.

On the Organisational front:

Consolidate and strengthen our programmes to respond to the challenges that we have in the organisation
Quality service to membership / better administration of the Union / strengthening the current organisational / financial and administrative improvements in the Union .
Speed up implementation of the Membership Project and the collection of subs.
Speed up the process of delivering benefits to members through and working with the Numsa Investment Company.
Review and take forward the Organisational Review Project.
Develop systems of employment of staff that ensure service delivery / better working environment and skills retention.
Develop programmes that ensure that leadership is capacitated to lead and manage accordingly.

On the socio-economic front:

Oppose policies that lead to an attack on worker rights / downward variation of standards and the entrenchment of neo-liberalism
Oppose privatisation of state-owned assets and struggle for a society that values service delivery over profit making.
Improve and strengthen our collective bargaining strategy.

On the International front:

Work towards a better understanding and appreciation of the problems that face workers in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
Forge closer relations with workers on the Continent and together find solutions to the challenges of organisation-building.

We are busy developing a plan of action for the next decade that provides indicators on how we should deal with all of these challenges.

As President Tom said in his closing remarks to the National Congress:

“All of us here today have homework to do. When we go back home to workers, they are going to ask, why did you elect so and so because to me you said he did the following things. We have no choice, we must go back and repair that damage. We are not going to chop down trees and expect passersby’s to collect wood. We chop the trees and we collect the wood first because it is we who chopped the wood first…………”

Be that as it may, Numsa is united, and needs to deal with all challenges together. We are not for sale.

In this edition we also provide information on the great achievements through struggles in the motor sector. As we have said in the past, no amount of good English and negotiation skills will make employers listen to our demands. The strength of the Union to mobilise and agitate its members is the only tool to use to twist the arm of employers and to make them listen to our demands.

This requires leadership at all levels of the Union :

to understand which tactics to employ at a particular process of negotiations and what effect they have.
to keep members informed, mobilised and ready to embark on industrial action or any form of protest action in the event of a dispute.
and when it is called in difficult situations, to be willing to be with members and walk with them in finding a solution.

Can we say that we have this kind of leadership at all levels of the Union ? What lessons can we draw as an organisation and as leadership from all our sectoral negotiations with regard to the above questions? As an example, in the Engineering Sector, some of the bargaining team members sought to distance themselves from this process as if it was individually driven, and to some extent, made claims that collective bargaining in the Union is bureaucratic.

Part of what we have to find solutions to in the Union are on the following issues:

Who disseminates information, which information is disseminated and in what form is it disseminated?
Are we disseminating information to empower a critical mind?

In the Secretariat Report to the National Congress in September, we quoted Amilcar Cebral:

“Our struggle is for our people, because its objectives, its purpose is to satisfy their aspirations, dreams and desires of our people: to lead a decent and worthy life, as all the people in the world want, to have peace in order to build progress in their land, to build happiness for their children. We want everything we win in this struggle to belong to our people and we have to do our utmost to form an organisation such that even if some want to divert the conquests of the struggle to their own advantage, our people will not let them. This is very important……….”

The Struggle Continues!

Silumko Nondwangu, general secretary