Numsa News Bulletin
Newly-elected female shop stewards were introduced at the Numsa national gender conference. Pinky Ramokoka asked them
how they will meet expectations..
Nomkhosi Ndlovu, a shop steward at Toyota Boshuku, Isipingo local, KwaZulu-Natal:
“Being a shopsteward is challenging. I won with 99% support from both men and women on the shop floor.
When I told my family that I had been elected, they were impressed because they know that it is a huge responsibility to represent workers, especially if you are a woman, but they offered their support.
Being a shop steward is eye-opening because there are issues that you will understand better when engaging at the shop floor. I have learned that as a woman you have to be strong.
When I saw other women participating I wondered what I could do to encourage other women to be strong and participate.
I will make sure the decisions and experiences from the conference are implemented in order to take gender struggles forward.
We should educate other women and make them understand that women in Parliament did not start off there; they started at ground level and worked up to where they are today. We should take that as an example.
The level of debate and the language used in the documents are a bit difficult for me, but because I’m passionate, I will learn and adjust to the environment.”
Azzedine Weston, a shop steward at Fabkomp, King Williams Town local, Eastern Cape:
“I feel proud and privileged to be a shop steward in one of the biggest unions in South Africa.
I got support from my fellow colleagues, and my local organiser helped me a lot with understanding the Numsa constitution and policies. I always ask for advice from my fellow shop stewards and local office-bearers.
My family and my fiancé support me in all union activities and they were proud when I told them that I had been elected as a shop steward and would be attending the Numsa gender conference.
I have found that if you want to grow in Numsa you have to be a good listener, participate in all activities, be visible and vocal in the commissions, and you have to be a team player. If you want to do something as an individual you will not succeed.
You need fellow comrades, because Numsa is all about unity.
I have been taking notes on all the decisions, and the information and experience I have gained. I will put them in my report so I can share them at workplace, my local and my community – because charity begins at home.
The debates were interesting because you hear about other workers’ battles with their employers. You get advice from other comrades and share ideas with them.”
Yonelani Feni is a shop steward at Vanchem Vanadium Products, Witbank local, Mpumalanga:
“Being a shop steward is interesting, scary and challenging because you have to venture out of your comfort zone and you cannot concentrate only on yourself, because now you represent other people.
I received huge support at my workplace. My brothers were happy because they know that I’m doing something that I’m passionate about. I feel blessed and motivated because my fellow workers have so much faith in my abilities and potential.
It is important to understand the responsibilities we have towards our fellow comrades, fellow employees and the community, and not to let fear control you. As long as you adhere to Numsa policies and systems you stand to overthrow capitalism.
Communication is vital and I will have to take what I learned here back to the workplace, local and region and present it to the workforce. We need a programme that we can all adhere to maintain Numsa’s standards and unity.
The debates were interesting and inspiring and we were free to express ourselves without limitation. The information was shared with the aim of enriching the people who have low self-esteem and no confidence.”
Numsa News No 1