After a successful season of shop steward elections, many were impressed by how the elections were conducted and their outcome.
However, it is still a huge challenge to the entire organisation to increase the number of women shop stewards.
Nino Moela, who has been working for only a year at MRL Engineering in Spartan, stood for election.
Speaking to us at the induction workshop held at Tembisa Local, Nino said he realised that the workers at the company are close to the employers and are scared of losing their friendship with them.
“Little do they know that it is not about fighting; it is about engaging the employer,” he said.
As a result some comrades are scared of being shop stewards.
“Being a shop steward is not an easy task but I felt it’s time I pull myself up and face the fears that were rubbed into me,” Nino said.
When we spoke to the JC Bezuidenhout chairperson, Motsamai Ponya, during the regional gender conference, he spoke firmly about shop stewards who don’t want to work.
He added that most issues don’t require the local’s intervention, but because of lazy shop stewards, it has to intervene.
“One thing that workers must know is that a shop steward must attend the local shop steward meetings.
They need to be familiar with the environment and know how to deal with workers’ problems.
A shop steward that does not attend the council meetings will be unable to handle matters at their factory plants,” Motsamayi said.
We are still facing the effects of the global financial crisis in our country, but Numsa continues growing.
We currently have 288 173 members on our system, and more work needs to be done so that we close the huge gap.
We are still the number two union in the hierarchy of Cosatu.
A warning to the newly elected shop steward: employers often take advantage of a lack of knowledge and demand things which make them seem right when they are not.
Be careful of the arguments they normally make when change has come.
As quoted by the president, “unity is not an easy matter” – we need to co-operate with former shop stewards and share information.
Shop stewards must know that the work that has been done at the company was not for them, it was for the members.
We, therefore, need good working relationships.
Numsa News No 1, April 2012