NUMSA DGS INPUT TO THE
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NUMSA KWAZULU NATAL ENGINEERING RSSC HELD 5 MARCH 2011
The Numsa 8th National Congress held in October 2008 resolved and declared that Numsa must become a much more militant, revolutionary and campaigning trade union. It is in this regard that our theme for 2011 speaks to this political and organisational task when it says;
Exploitation Divides! Decent Jobs Unites!
It is not an exaggeration to openly and honestly state that Numsa shall be remembered in 2010 for having undertaken hard work and greater performance by Numsa members, shopstewards, office bearers and staff who continue to be the back rock of the organization and indeed a critical layer within our organization.
Since our strategic planning at the end of 2009, Numsa started 2010 with a huge workload and has consistently executed programmes which include;
- The restructuring of our head office both at the level of departments and filling vacant posts,
- Ensuring that departments under the direction of the Numsa NEC hit the ground running in order to implement their programme of action as decided by the November 2009 Numsa strategic planning session
- Numsa’s preparation for the 2010 National Bargaining Conference which involved collecting demands from our Numsa organised workplaces up to when we convened the NBC in March 2010
- Numsa NOB engagement with the Sacp leadership to craft a common program of action for working class power
- Numsa national media strategy to raise the profile of Numsa
- Numsa Health & Safety Campaign
- Numsa preparation for the ANC NGC premised on an assessment of the Polokwane resolutions and the ANC manifesto
Our organisational work comes on the back of the following back to back tasks that we have undertaken in 2009;
- Convening the Numsa National Job Security Conference in March 2009
- Numsa against the South African Reserve Bank
- Numsa’s active participation in support of the ANC in the April 2009 elections
- Numsa national conference on the retirement of the transformation of the retirement industry
- Numsa Mini National Congress in May 2009 to finalise the October 2008 8th National Congress resolutions
- Numsa’s national membership cleaning up program
- Establishment of the Numsa Youth Desk at local, regional and national level as directed by the Numsa National Congress
- Numsa retooling workshop for all organisers to fight retrenchments
- Numsa leadership training for office bearers to better manage the union
- Numsa Recruitment campaign
- Numsa preparation for the Cosatu and Sacp Congresses
- Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution
We can once more confirm that our union can be counted among the unions who gave their best and sacrificed the most in the interest of the union and members. This we did by championing quality service to members, building capacity of shopstewards, improve the democratic functioning of the elected leadership and retooling our staff to deliver better service to members.
We also do our work in Numsa for organisational renewal and to sharpen the capacity of the organization to deal with today and tomorrow’s challenges so that our organization must continue to be relevant to our members and in society.
We have been champions of unity at all levels of the organization which is a rock from which our organization is founded. All organizational gains and victories have been well communicated internally in the organization and well claimed at a public level as victories of Numsa as an organization.
We must continue to ensure that the gender struggle which is about equality between men and women and reflection of women in all levels of our organization is a noble task of all of us equally.
Where we had to speak publicly in the interest of the organization or the working class in general, this we did unashamedly without seeking any favors and without fear. That is why we can safely say that in the public domain the Numsa’s image and profile is very high and we enjoy a lot of respect in the country, on the continent and internationally.
This can only grow Numsa as an organization in leaps and bounds as more workers all over the country want to belong to Numsa and more activist or ordinary people want to be employed in Numsa.
In Numsa, 2011 will be no different to 2009 and 2010 in terms of Numsa, Cosatu, ANC and SACP working programmes. The following key programmes which are non-negotiable, amongst other things, are things that we would have to execute come 2011;
Mobilizing for an ANC victory in the 2011 local government elections
Engineering wage negotiations
Cosatu Central Committee
Numsa recruitment campaign
Completing the cleaning up of Numsa’s membership fees and finalising the upgrading of the Numsa electronic membership system
Numsa shopsteward elections
Sacp’s annual Red October Campaign
Draft discussion papers and reports for the Numsa 9th National Congress in 2012
The political and economic line of march for metalworkers in the collective bargaining of 2011
Our ANC in 1969 were clear that in the execution of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) to its logical conclusion…”it is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the land to the people as a whole.”
The Morrogoro Tactics & Strategies document continues to say that…”To allow the existing economic forces to retain their interests intact is to feed the root of racial supremacy and does not represent even the shadow of liberation. Our drive towards national emancipation is therefore in a very real way bound up with economic emancipation.”
As we engage in class struggle to demand a redistributive macro and micro economic policy framework, we must be guided by the abovementioned directive remains relevant in 2011 as it was in 1969. In this regard the current New Growth Path (NGP) must be gauged and tested against this political and economic outlook.
Whereas we believe that the working class should be at the centre of the economic direction we take to achieve redistribution of wealth, workers have the possibility through collective bargaining to ensure redistribution at the point of production to improve the lot of workers who contribute immensely to productivity and massive profits generated by employers.
It is critical that we sharpen consciousness of metalworkers to deploy appropriate tools, tactics and strategies in collective bargaining without resorting to the permanent revolution syndrome which is oblivious to compromises in negotiations.
The South African economy continues to be underpinned by the semi colonial systemic and structural features, features which the South African Communist Party has correctly termed “Colonialism of a Special type”!
White monopoly capital, sustaining white economic, social and cultural privilege persists. Black and African poverty supplies extremely cheap labour to this economy and society. Thus Black and African working class education, health services, housing, social and cultural services are extremely inferior to those of the white community with its sprinkling of black an African middle class.
All the social and economic statistics in South Africa point to worsening Black and African poverty even as white wealth and privileges increase, after 1994. Thus it is not by accident that an average white male today earns R19 00.00 while a black man earns a meagre R2 400.00!
Only less than 5% unemployment exist among the white population, while on average, more than 30% of black people are unemployed, and this figure does not include those who have given up looking for work.
The ongoing global crisis of capitalism has simply worsened this picture.
Apart from Colonialism of a Special Type, after 1994, we have seen the rise and dominance of finance capital over all other forms of capital, especially manufacturing and other industrial capitals.
This domination of finance capital has been fuelled and facilitated by the post 1994 monetary policies which favour high interest rates and an extremely unfavourable exchange rate to national manufacturing and industrialisation.
We at Numsa have argued, and correctly so as all evidence supports us: after 1994 South Africa has experienced jobless growth driven by speculative finance capital and consumption of high value add imported domestic goods. Logically, this has led to the destruction of a large portion of our manufacturing sector.
It is not by accident that the fastest growing sectors have been the financial, services and retail sectors. This has been at the expense of manufacturing and national industrialisation. Thus we find ourselves in the ridiculous situation in which there has been “jobless growth”!!
While we welcome the governments release of its New Growth Path, Numsa independently and with Cosatu has expressed its strong reservations on the proposed NGP and its capacity to chart a new economic and social path for South Africa.
We remain committed to the struggle for decent work and decent wages.
Lessons of our own experiences for 2011 collective bargaining:
The Numsa KZN Engineering RSSC convenes against the background of a detailed analysis undertaken by the December 2010 Numsa Central Committee in respect of Numsa’s performance in the 2010 collective bargaining season. Amongst other things the CC concluded that;
- Numsa’s collective bargaining in 2010 took place in the context of global capitalist financial crises/recession which saw millions of workers retrenched and yet we scored wage increases way above the inflation rate.
- We have undertaken a process of developing a new organising and collective bargaining strategy so that we can effectively deal with the disparities and illogical clustering of the sectors in which we organise and negotiate. The July 2011 CC shall conclude the New Organising & Collective Bargaining Strategy. In this regard intense work would have to be done in the motor sector and house agreement companies.
- The dynamics of the negotiated settlements in Auto, Tyre, some House Agreement companies and the Motor Sectors did not allow Numsa to achieve the demand for one (1) year settlements and thereby our inability to reverse the multi-year (3 year) agreements.
- The peace clause in the motor sector remains a source of frustration and unhappiness amongst our members. This is compounded by the fact that our organisational muscle in sector 6 is extremely weak and therefore Numsa is unable to launch a serious offensive against sector 6 employer who also happens to be in control of the RMI.
- Numsa is the first union in South Africa who went into battle to remove labour brokers from our sectors albeit that we achieved different degrees of negotiated agreements on phasing out labour brokers from our sectors.
- Organisers who are serious catalysts in a strike situation to guide and assist striking workers were detained in a workshop in the height of our national strike action. This follows that the command centre in head office and our service departments had no integrated focus to collective bargaining something that the CC warned should never happen again.
- A gender balance in the collective bargaining teams in Motor, Auto, Eskom and House Agreements were absent to say the least and at worst undermined the Numsa policy in relation to the gender balance of our bargaining teams.
- Democratic centralism took a nose dive at the time we had to consider a settlement agreement with motor sector employers. Despite a unanimous decision and directive emerging from the Special NEC Teleconference, a deviation resulting in a misrepresentation of the motor bargaining process were reported to members and unfair allegations of undue interference by national leadership were leveled at the national secretariat. The December 2011 Numsa CC rejected such populism with the contempt it deserves.
In preparing ourselves for the wage negotiations against Eskom, Engineering employers and House Agreement companies, we should draw lessons from collective bargaining in 2011 with a view to strengthen our capacity and our resolve to deliver the best possible results for our members.
Going into collective bargaining – What is to be Done – Critical questions to answer:
- As we go into negotiations this year we must use those experiences to our advantage. Together, we must ensure that we do the following, among many other duties:
- Explain the process to all our members the process of collecting demands, how this will work and how mandates are carried through until its logical conclusion, i.e. democratic centralism determines the final position of the Union;
- We must explain to members how we shall use collective bargaining to improve the conditions of life of our members – by combating the inherited apartheid racial distribution of income, among other things;
- We must tell members that the Numsa leadership shall be engaging with the key employers and companies in the country in a Summit to be convened by the NOB so that we may collectively look at the state of the South African economy and what should constitute a pact by which government can be lobbied to create decent jobs in our sector on the basis of promoting local content and local procurement;
- We must advance the campaign for equal pay equal work and gender equality in the work place;
- We must advance campaigns for skills transfer and acquisition of training of our members as means for redistribution, transforming the workplace and address the skills deficit of black workers which we inherited from Apartheid.
As you return to the communities and townships where you live, we call on all comrades to be active on Sunday 6th March 2011 to participate in the voter registration from door to door.
This is not a neutral exercise because the Numsa Central Committee of December 2011 called upon all the Numsa members, shopstewards, office bearers and officials to campaign for an overwhelming ANC victory in the local government elections.
We wish all comrades well in the work that you do in the name of NUMSA.