Letters: Editorial

Close to 150 delegates from the 9 Numsa regions gathered from the 24th to the 26th of April at the Randburg Towers to chart a strategy and consolidate demands for the 2007 collective bargaining round. In my address to the Bargaining Conference, I made these observations:

“˜That the theme, confronting the logic of capital through collective bargaining represents a tall order for a trade union. Many have asked the question, can a trade union whose classical orientation is reformist in character on its own confront the logic of capital? Is this not the role of a working class political party?

Joe Slovo in his paper titled: The South African working class – 1988 had this to say; “˜Socialist ideas take root not just through book knowledge but through struggle around day-to-day issues. And, for those who have to live the hourly realities and humiliations of race tyranny (at the point of production, in townships, in the streets, etc) there is no issue more immediate and relevant than the experience of national oppression. This is certainly the starting point of political consciousness for every black worker. It is mainly in the actual struggle against national oppression that its class roots can be grasped most effectively. It is that struggle which illuminates most brightly the underlying relationship in our country between capitalism and national domination.’

Lenin makes this observation on socialist revolutions: “˜The socialist revolution is not a single act, not a single battle on the single front but a whole epoch of intensified class conflict, a long series of battles on all fronts…….’ You may be asking yourselves the question, what have Slovo and Lenin got to do with a trade union Collective Bargaining Conference on bread and butter issues? When the Numsa CC at the end of last year adopted the bargaining theme it said; “˜the theme must among other things raise the class consciousness of metalworkers to connect the immediate bread and butter issues with the bigger struggles’. The Conference considered and received status reports from:

The Department of Trade and Industry on the proposed draft Industrial Strategy
From the Numsa National Researcher on trends in the global environment
The findings on the Numsa 3 year bargaining strategy
An analysis from the General Secretary on key and strategic challenges and opportunities in our various sectors.

Consolidated demands from the 9 Numsa regions.Conference delegates then asked themselves this question: “Are the demands that we are making responding to the key challenges and opportunities presenting themselves in our sectors such as: the need to accelerate training and skills development, the need to ensure that we speed up affirmative action and transformation in our workplaces, the need to be directly involved as a union nationally in developing sectoral guidelines on broad-based black economic empowerment?”

The Conference defined these issues as a platform towards transforming our workplaces and dealing with the legacy of the past. The test for the organisation is to ensure that we mobilise members on these key demands and use them as another platform to redistribute wealth in the economy.

On the 20th Anniversary celebrationsWe have almost finalised our plans to celebrate our 20 years of existence as a revolutionary, united and militant voice of metalworkers. We have had our challenges during this period like any other progressive formation of workers, but the need to celebrate outweighs the most difficult challenges we have gone through. This is a moment where both former and current members and leaders of the organisation come together to reflect on the path we have travelled, our trials and tribulations, and to renew our commitment to struggle together as metalworkers and with the rest of society for a better life for all. We can also utilise these celebrations as another opportunity to report back to members on the negotiations and to mobilise them for the battles ahead. We call on all our members and their families to join us in celebrating this anniversary in a style befitting this union.

On the National Political discourseThe ANC has already circulated its 13 policy discussion papers for the branches to reflect on what it has done since the Stellenbosch 51st conference and what needs to be done towards the 52nd National Conference. These are important processes. It is the responsibility of Numsa activists as ANC members to interact with these policy documents and to actively ensure that they are elected to attend both the National Policy Conference in July and the December 52nd Conference.

Silumko NondwanguGeneral secretary