According to the Numsa constitution, shop steward elections take place every four years. This means that elected shop stewards need to work very hard to protect workers’ interests using the Numsa constitution and various labour laws.
Before and during elections the union preaches gender and youth empowerment. Gender and youth structures should ensure that this is realised by motivating and encouraging women and young people to contest shop steward elections.
There are various reasons why women hesitate, or bluntly refuse, to stand in elections, such as the time taken up by shop steward councils and the lack of support from men and women. The union should attend to this.
In KwaZulu-Natal we have nine locals, and eight have finished electing local office-bearers. Newcastle was launched on the February 9 because their offices burnt down late last year.
So far 32 local office-bearers have been elected, of which five are women – three local secretaries and two deputy secretaries.
Three women were elected for the first time. One has served as deputy chair and the other as secretary over the past four years.
The establishment of a youth structure within the union and the workshops it has conducted have helped young people to actively participate in union activities.
Of the 32 members elected as local office-bearers, eleven are young people who are active in the youth structures in their respective locals.
The second-layer leadership mission has been accomplished and needs to be maintained.
Mirriam Mochochoko is Numsa’s KwaZulu-Natal OCCB Administrator
Numsa News No 1, April 2012