Workshops: Getting to know our past

Philip Sapud

“When NUMSA was formed the struggle for democracy in South Africa had reached new heights. The labour movement had created a consciousness among the working people and the working class in general that workers united can face up to the might of the racist apartheid system and to effect changes at their workplaces as well as at a political level. The response to these and other burning questions of the time was greater unity of workers.”

This was how comrade Daniel Dube, Numsa’s 1 st President opened the Western Cape political discussion forum (PDF). The PDF was to celebrate the Union ‘s 18 years of existence to more than 60 shop stewards, who never knew of him until that day.

He told those present that it was right to celebrate Numsa’s 18 th birthday, but it was “not the end”. Thousands of metalworkers still had to be organised into Numsa “because even with political freedom, workers are still losing their jobs”. It was “our duty to make them see beyond narrow organisational interests. Is shaping a new South Africa that knows no oppression of one another, that knows no poverty, not more important than narrow organisational interests?” he asked.

He reminded participants that as a political trade union movement and a component of the forces of liberation, “Are we not supposed to move closer to our political allies? Must we not take our rightful place in the struggle for change? Should we not imitate the trade unions of yesterday and do research on topics of interest to the workers?”

Numsa leadership should ensure that all members should learn about the union’s 18-year history, its former/founder members, as they were an integral part of getting to where we are today! Comrade Daniel Dube is still working at SKF in the Eastern Cape , and refused to sleep in a hotel at Numsa’s expense!