Comment:General Secretary

The year that was – 2006

Many of us have reached that part of the year when we begin to make plans on how and where we will spend our holidays. This period is most demanding for the working class in particular given the responsibilities associated with buying our kids Christmas clothes and presents, whilst having to set aside money for the beginning of the school year in January. For those who have been saving some few hundreds through stokvels and other forms of savings groups, at the very least we will be able to provide a feast for our families -slaughter a cow or a sheep as a sign of thanking our ancestors for having looked after us and having made it to 2007. This is but one unique feature of the African people and their respect for their traditions and cultures. In rural areas, there are always great expectations that migrant workers from all parts of the country will return back with gifts and all that makes life tick in the rural areas. It is an exciting atmosphere to return back and connect with your people. We will return back to serious political and trade union work at the beginning of January. Now it is time to rest with our families and take stock of what we have been able to achieve in our personal lives and the general contributions that we have made to society in general.

Laying the organisational platform for 2007An end of year Numsa Central Committee is scheduled from December 6 to 8. It is preceded by a one day Policy Workshop intended to deal with our discussion document on NEPAD, the DTI draft Industrial Strategy and a presentation by an ANC NEC member on the “˜Strategy and Tactics’ document in preparation for the ANC Conference in 2007.A report that the Numsa Secretariat will present in this meeting will deal with the assessment of our performance in 2006 and a presentation of organisational plans for 2007. We will ask the meeting to consider the following issues:

A detailed assessment of our performance in the 9th Cosatu National Congress. Related to this discussion will be the salient issues that confront the Federation and its Alliance partners in this period and what must we do together to advance the Cosatu resolutions in the NDR.
We will also present our organisational plans and budgets for 2007 and the key focus areas of the organization. In this regard, we will recommend that the CC adopts the following theme for 2007:

“Confronting the class logic of white monopoly capital through collective bargaining.”

The NOBs believe, and it is something which we think will be shared by the majority of our members in our sectors, that during bargaining next year, we should extract as much concessions and benefits for our members in the bargaining round. We will propose to our regions that we should prepare members in our sectors for a “˜tough and difficult’ bargaining round with employers. The plans that we have developed for 2007 will be aimed at the fundamental transformation of our sectors for the benefit of our members. We further want to believe that the research reports we have received on “˜Black Economic Empowerment’ and the review of our “˜3-year Collective Bargaining Strategy’ makes the point that our sectors remain untransformed and the organisation must be prepared to struggle to realise a better life for its members.
Lastly, we will present in the report our financial statements and proposals to review Staff Conditions of Employment.

Strategic challenges for 2007In a presentation that the Numsa NOBs made to the National Policy Workshop held this year preceding the 9th Cosatu Congress, we made the following observation and in particular on the challenges confronting the trade union movement, noted what was said in a Journal on Contemporary African Studies, 24 January 2006;Article: “˜Bent on self-destruction: The Kibaki regime in Kenya.

The preface to this article says, written in the Daily News in Kenya, February 2005,”In 2002, I thought I had President Mwai Kibaki figured out. He was the ideal candidate, the man who would play Moses to our Israelites and lead us to Canaan after decades of distorted politics in which the leader invariably morphed into a small god. Its was not an unreasonable expectation, despite years of working within the system, he was the least tainted of a bad lot and had enough cosmopolitan image appeal to Kenyans across the board. How can he and his team have managed to throw it all away in just two years.”

In a nutshell, we will have to reposition ourselves as activists and trade unionists to confront white monopoly capital in 2007, play a more strategic role in the ANC Policy Conference in May, become actively involved towards the July SACP Conference, and shape the strategic direction of the ANC National Conference in December. If the recent Cosatu Congress were a benchmark for the challenges ahead, then there is no reason for us to relax and hope that others will shape the future for us and the next generation to come in our favour. Whatever we do as we interact with these political processes in the coming year, we must remember that we only serve the interests of the working class and nothing else.I want to take this opportunity to thank members for making it possible for us as the organisation to grow and become militant and revolutionary as Metalworkers. I also wish to thank Staff for their continued dedication in the work of the union and all the difficulties associated with serving workers.Enjoy the festive season with your families and friends and drive safely, but more importantly, condomise, Aids kills.

Aluta ContinuaSilumko Nondwangu, general secretary