180 days in office – what's happened?
Delegates at Numsaâ€™s 8th National Congress elected Karl Cloete to serve as Numsa deputy general secretary (DGS) until 2012. Mirriam Mochochoko asked him how far the Union is with implementing resolutions taken at last yearâ€™s congress.
Cloete spoke of the key resolution adopted – that Numsa should persuade metal workers to vote ANC in the April 2009 elections. He said that since December 2008, Numsa had embarked on an elections campaign that is integrated with the alliance. All Numsa's nine regions have done very good work.
The Gauteng rally on March 28 2009 was "extremely successful and very well attended."Cloete had harsh words for Madisha, the former president of Cosatu who has launched a new trade union federation that Madisha claims will not be aligned to any political party.
â€œMadisha is misleading workers and the entire country,â€ says Cloete. â€œWhen he was Cosatu president he advocated very strongly that Cosatu cannot be a workerist formation.
He said Cosatu had to participate actively on issues of the economy and political decisions that are taken in our country affecting workers both at the work-place and in the community.
But at the launch of Madishaâ€™s federation, many people came wearing Cope t-shirts and Madisha himself is in the executive of Cope,â€ proving that Madisha's federation will "not be non-aligned," says Cloete.
Job lossesThe DGS explained that Numsa had called an emergency National Job Security Conference in March 2009. Although expressions such as global financial crisis, global economic meltdown and so on are mostly used to explain the situation that Europe and the United States of America find themselves in financially, "South Africa is not immune to this disease," he said.
Mining, manufacturing and textiles are the most affected industries by this crisis. Numsa is losing thousands and thousands of members through retrenchment, short time and lay-offs particularly in the automotive sector because of the global economic meltdown.
â€œNumsaâ€™s nine regions will now engage the provincial governments and business as provincial governments have their own growth and development strategies and their own provincial budgets.
Numsaâ€™s task is to ensure that the work that provincial governments do is also in defense of jobs and job security,â€ says Cloete.
Numsa regards labour brokers as modern day slave-drivers, they donâ€™t have equipment; they only give workers temporary jobs. They sell people at the cheapest rate to employers.
Numsa aims at ensuring that workers get decent jobs, permanent jobs and permanent positions, benefits and conditions of employment that will improve their living standards.
"Through Cosatu we now have in the ANC manifesto, a commitment by the ANC to ensure that steps are taken against labour brokers.
Numsa feels that this is a victory for workers and the reason why workers should vote ANC. In Namibia, the government has banned labour brokers, that is what Numsa is expecting under the ANC administration," said Cloete.
Numsa took a specific resolution in the Job Security Conference to fight employers on the issue of labour brokers and urge employers to stop using the services of labour brokers explains Cloete.
Improving serviceOn improving service to members, which is the core of the union, the national office bearers are working hard to ensure that workers get the best service possible.
The Union plans on cutting down on the costs that are spent on outside attorneys. The office bearers are busy with a new membership system with a company called UI-play which is owned 50% by Numsa Investment Company.
The new system will enable employers to send subscriptions to the union electronically. The union is also working on a plan to roll out e-mail access to all locals so that all offices can plug in to the system.
CampaignsAnother thing the union is working on is for the Organising, Campaigns and Collective Bargaining Department (OCCB) to improve its work around campaigns. The union has already started to build the capacity of our staff to improve their service to members.
The aim of the union is to ensure that shop stewards in all regions are well trained, capacitated and educated so that they can be able to deal with the complex issues that the union is confronted with. (see page 20 for details on education courses held)
Mini National CongressSince the National Congress could not finish issues intended for it, Numsa will be convening the Mini National Congress from May 11 to 14 to deal with organisational, socio-economic, international as well as issues for the Cosatu National Congress in September 2009.
Some of the organisational issues deal with proposals on improving service delivery to our members, health and safety and what support NOBs and sector co-ordinators should give to regions and how the union should ensure that it is financially self-sufficient.
Under socio-economic, the union will look at the question of the re-nationalisation of Mittal Steel and Sasol and will also look at the question of fiscal and monetary policies, for example, what is the attitude of the union towards inflation targeting? Broad based black economic empowerment will also be covered under this area.
The union will also debate how the union can improve the co-ordination of its international work. It has done very good work in helping workers in Zimbabwe to establish unions and to merge them.
Numsa is also working with workers in Swaziland, Namibia and Nigeria so as to build a strong metal workers' union movement on the African continent. On long term issues, Numsa will work actively with the Cosatu chemical union, CEPPWAWU and the communication workers union, CWU, to build one strong union.
A merger between these unions will see the implementation of Cosatu resolutions on building mega unions.
Parliamentary office"The union plans to establish a parliamentary office by May to ensure that when there are Bills before parliament that affect metal workers, Numsa can influence the ANC government administration so that the legislation that gets passed will benefit the working class far more than the rich," explains Cloete.
Numsa will also be setting up a Numsa Economic Institute. Its purpose will be to bring together economists in South Africa and over the world to help us to shape economic policy in the interests of workers and the working class at large. These two institutions will be established through fund-raising.
Numsa investment companyCloete spoke of the damaging stories in the media about the Numsa Investment Company. He explained that the board of directors is new and all people previously involved have been removed.
The union is now in total control of the Numsa Investment Company. The CEO was suspended because of a lot of fraudulent activities and subsequently through a disciplinary process, was dismissed.
The union has now employed a new acting CEO who is working flat out to get more investments so that the NIC will benefit members directly, both at the level of Doves and with other benefits.