Gender: Women shop stewards tell all

Numsa wants the number of women shop stewards to reflect women membership. But getting women elected as Numsa shop stewards is just the first hurdle. Once they are there, there are often many other hurdles to master.

South Coast local shop steward, Doris Nqetho, remembers the time she was “left behind”, forced to sleep in a union office and take public transport the next day because her fellow male comrades “forgot” to tell her that the transport was leaving to go back home.

Mpumalanga shop steward, Joyce Motaung, also had a tough time initially. “I was not well trained. A few workers did not accept me. They said they already had a shop steward, and that I “˜know nothing about the cases’. But once she was trained, “everything became smooth and now I am happy all the time”. Other gender representatives at a national gender workshop in March, spoke of the difficulties some women have attending workshops and meetings because of their partners.

Numsa KZN invites you and your young children to come and celebrate International Children’s Day Saturday 3 June, Japanese Gardens, Durban North.

Find out details from your local office

“They become jealous, they don’t want us to sleep over at workshops,” they said. The problem is often worse if their partners are also active shop stewards or have been active shop stewards. However, these negative experiences seem balanced by positive ones.

“From the time I was elected as a shop steward, I didn’t have any problems, male comrades supported me better than women,” says Mirriam Macheru. The same goes for Kimberley shop steward, Loraine Mtonxa. Even though her company is a male dominated company, “they supported me in the struggle”.

Numsa’s only woman regional chairperson, Christine Olivier gained her experience in a gender structure in her company, “but we didn’t call it a gender structure, we called it a social committee,” she says. This committee dealt with social problems. It included deputy [alternate] shop stewards and other members.

But her first shop steward meeting was a “bad experience”. “They were talking about the REC and the LSSCs and I didn’t understand all these funny words.”

However, she met leaders, organisers in her local and region and unbeknown to them, used them as her mentors. Importantly, she “was not afraid to ask about things I didn’t know. I think sometimes they got frustrated but they assisted me in a nice way.”

The challenge is on – these women are showing they can lead. Now is the time for other women to take up their challenge. At the next shop steward elections in 2008, women must be better represented.

Numsa takes on TikWestern Cape shop stewards told Numsa’s national gender meeting that they planned a campaign around tik*, the relatively cheap drug that is taking its toll on young and old.

Shop steward, Amy Moses, told of how workers at her company are now facing disciplinary charges because they cannot kick the habit. Workers come late to work or don’t come at all as the drug takes control of their minds and bodies and makes them lose respect for themselves.

Other workers come to work in pain from watching their children caught under its deadly web. On May 6-7 the region will run a workshop bringing in outside experts who will give background information about this drug and how to recognise symptoms of users. They will also advise participants which institutions can assist with drug rehabilitation. The region’s long term programme is to train people as counsellors, and go on road-shows to affected communities.

*** Tik is also commonly referred to as Crystal Meth. ***

What is domestic violence?Physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse, economic abuse, harassment, stalking, damage to property and even entering a person’s residence without their consent.

Who can be subjected to domestic violence?Anyone in these relationships below can be subjected to domestic violence and can apply for a protection order.

customary and religious marriages
same sex relationships
parents or carers of children
all relatives
fiancés, lovers
those who are living together.

You are not safe in your own home!Mirriam Mochochoko and Jenny Grice

Two out of every three assaults on women in their own homes by their loved ones result in death. That is the shocking statistic that Numsa’s Kwa Zulu Natal regional gender structure learnt in a domestic violence workshop late last year. Nor is it poor black women that are the only ones to suffer – there is not a single social class of women that is not vulnerable to this scourge.

Although there are women who abuse men in a relationship, the facts show that 90 to 95 per cent of cases of abuse are against women. South Africa’s own Domestic Violence Act says that anyone who is subjected to domestic violence can apply for a protection order. This prevents a person from committing more domestic violence or other acts and prevents a person from entering the victim’s residence or other place of work. If the abuser breaks the protection order, the person can be arrested and put in jail until the trial comes up.

Amagosa abesifazane ageqa amagula

INumsa ifuna ukuthi amagosa abesifazane akhombise ubulungu babesifazane. Kodwa ukuthi abesifazane bakhethwe njengamagosa eNumsa yibona bunzima bokuqala. Uma sebekhona, kaningi ziningi ezinye izinkinga okufanele zinqotshwe.

Abanye balwisana nokubandlululwa ngabesilisa kanye nokwamukeleka kanti abanye bathi abakaze babe nankinga futhi amadoda “ayangisiza emzabalazweni wami”.

Noma ngabe kuhlangatshezwana naziphi izinkinga, manje sekuyisikhathi sokuthi abesifazane babhekane ngqo nezinselele zabaholi babo besifazane. Okhethweni olulandelayo lwamagosa lwangonyaka ka-2008, abesifazane kufanele bamelelwe kangcono.

Vroulike vloerbeamptes praat reguit

Numsa wil híª dat die aantal vloerbeamptes “˜n weerspieí«ling moet wees van die aantal vroulike lede. Maar om vroue as Numsa-vloerbeamptes verkies te kry, is maar die eerste stap. Sodra hulle daar is, is daar soveel ander struikelblokke om te oorkom.

Sommiges moet teen manlike vooroordele baklei en sukkel om aanvaar te word, terwyl andere síª dat hulle geen probleme het nie en dat “mans my in die stryd ondersteun het”.

Watter struikelblokke daar ookal is, is dit nou die tyd vir vroue om die uitdaging van hulle vroulike leiers te aanvaar. By die volgende verkiesings vir vloerbeamptes in 2008 moet vroue beter verteenwoordig word.

Moemedi wa basebetsi ba basadi o re bolella tsohle

Numsa e batla hore lenane la baemedi ba basadi le bontshe hore ho na le ditho tsa basadi mokgatlong. Empa bothata ba pele feela ke ho fumana basadi ba ka kgethwang jwaloka baemedi ho Numsa. Ha ba se ba kgethilwe, hangata ho ba le mathatanyana a mang a mangata a lokelang ho hlolwa.

Ba bang ba kopana le mathata a ho kgellwa fatshe ke banna mme ba sokola ho amoheleha, ha ba bang bona ba re ha ba so fumane mathata a jwalo mme banna “ba ne ba ntshehetsa dintweng”.

Le ha ho ka ba le mathata afe kapa afe, jwale ke nako ya hore basadi ba bang ba nke phephetso ena ya boetapele ba basadi. Dikgethong tse latelang tsa baemedi ba basebetsi ka 2008, basadi ba lokela ho ba le boemedi bo ka hodimo ho feta mona.