A congress is a platform where workers reflect about the union and look at the organisation. But we must have humility, and we need not declare war when debating. We must be more united
About 480 metalworkers gathered at the Tshepisong community hall west of Johannesburg on the 3rd March 2012. Most of the attendees were newly-elected shop stewards.
Just as for the leadership of Numsa, the issue of organising workers must be the core in the hearts of men and women who are members of Numsa.
JC Bez region has massively improved and increased its general membership by more than 20%. In the regional executive committee we heard the outcry by workers that all organisers must be redeployed to the locals so that service delivery to workers speeds up. Service became far better and membership increased.
This is one of the milestones achieved in the JC Bez region.
“In the good spirit of organisational discipline, corrective actions were taken against corrupt officials. Such action lead to the creation of enemies in some cases, but created friendships with those who wanted to work and see Numsa grow”.
Building the class consciousness of the working class
Irvin Jim spoke from the heart about organising the unorganised, even next door. Numsa shop stewards can recruit new members even if they work in different industries.
In that case they should approach Cosatu who will direct them to the relevant union. He said: “Shop stewards and organisers have a duty to organise unorganised workers. Workers must be able to speak proudly about Numsa and what the union does for them.”
Building an organisation means working together, and we must be more united than before. Numsa has a policy of adding more organisers depending on the number of members in the local.
Organisers must be empowered and liberated before they liberate other people.
Workers have the right to an honest assessment, and to assess the regional leadership, the performance of organisers and shop stewards.
A shop steward’s relationship with workers must be at no cost, in the sense that they should not expect to be paid for their services, and shop stewards should be accessible to all workers. No one must be discriminated against.
To help delegates understand what a union is, Jim quoted Joe Slovo:
“A trade union is the prime mass organisation of the working class. To fulfill its purpose, it must be as broad as possible and fight to maintain its legal status.
It must attempt, in the first place, to unite, on an industrial basis, all workers (at whatever level of political consciousness) who understand the elementary need to come together and defend and advance their economic conditions.
It cannot demand more as a condition of membership. But because the state and its political and repressive apparatus is an instrument of the dominant economic classe”.