The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) held its special National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting as from Tuesday 09 July 2013 –ended- Wednesday 10 July 2013, at the Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference Centre (VMCC), Newtown, Johannesburg, Gauteng province.
The NEC was attended by the National Office Bearers (NOBs’) and worker-leaders from all nine (9) regions, representing our 320 000 membership. We are now, officially the biggest affiliate of Cosatu, and this places a mammoth task on our shoulders!
2013 has been a year in which the steady growth of the union of Vuyisile Mini; Jabulile Ndlovu; John Gomomo; Mbuyiselo Ngwenda, Bimba Manqabashane and Mtutuzeli Tom and countless others has been maintained and accelerated. In 2009, during the recession, our membership stood at 219 264. Today it stands at 320 000. This growth of our union membership is related to the quality service we offer, campaigns that speak directly to issues affecting our members and our efforts of organizing the un-organizing in all our sectors.
The NEC was taking place within the context of the recently concluded, “NObama coalition”, within which Numsa actively participated as part of COSATU and the WFTU and the political vanguard of the working class, the SA Communist Party (SACP), and many other progressive youth formations, including Muslim groups. As Numsa, we owe our existence to working class internationalism and solidarity. We emerged during the height of apartheid state of emergency and sustained repression against the working class by the then regime apartheid regime.
We will continue to actively participate in solidarity programmes and activities that expose the tyranny and brutality of US imperialism, and we will forever stand-shoulder-to-shoulder with the working class of Cuba, in their just struggle against US economic embargo, and including our unwavering struggle for a free Western Sahara and Palestine.
The revolutionary upsurges which we saw in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Algeria and many other parts of the world, all triggered by the extreme levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality because of the neoliberal restructuring which the world capitalist class has imposed on the working class in the past 30 years or so, that energy risks being wasted because the world working class is leaderless!!
We are seeing in Egypt the strange phenomenon where only yesterday the masses rose and demanded freedom and democracy from the corrupt militocracy (Egyptian military funded by the US and its political class), and, in the absence of genuine revolutionary theory and working class leadership, today the very same masses are celebrating the erosion of that freedom and democracy as they welcome the military coup that has removed an elected Egyptian leader!
It is precisely because of the dangers of leaderlessness, lack of working class revolutionary theory and working class leadership that we are seeing all over the world that we in Numsa demand that every Numsa member must arm themselves with the only correct working class revolutionary theory – Marxism-Leninism with the sole aim of changing the world. That is why NUMSA will be launching its Marxist-Leninist Schools in all 9 regions, which will be called the Mbuyiselo Ngwenda brigades.
The NEC extended its best wishes to our revolutionary icon, people’s hero and a beloved friend of the working class, comrade Nelson Mandela and his family, amidst unendurable news that he is in critical but stable condition in hospital. NUMSA prides itself for having built a special, red Mercedes Benz for the icon of our nation.
Furthermore, the NEC congratulated the newly appointed members of the Executive as announced by President Jacob Zuma, using his prerogative as enshrined in the constitution.
1. Collective Bargaining Process in NUMSA
NUMSA is concerned that the bosses have not taken the process negotiations seriously. We are therefore calling our members to be combat-ready.
We are saying to the bosses that they must use the available avenues to ensure that we find a settlement that will deliver gains to the working class and the poor, otherwise we will be left with no option but to launch a strike on the bosses.
In particular, the Motor Industry employers continue to display their apartheid arrogance and baaskap mentality. We are telling our members that we should prepare for a strike.
2. On COSATU challenges and Way forward
The NEC was held within the context of heightened tensions or paralysis within our federation – the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), just nine (9) months after its highly successful, unifying and decisive 11th National Congress held in Gallagher Estate, Midrand. The NEC reaffirmed that its principled defense of Cosatu General Secretary is not about an individual, but it’s in defense of Cosatu’s independence and mandated programmes by workers, from vultures that want to turn Cosatu into a conveyor-belt or labour desk of any of its Alliance partners.
The NEC has resolved that the ongoing facilitator’s process led by Charles Nupen and Petrus Mashishi, to deal with the ideological, political and administrative issues within Cosatu should be abandoned. From where we are sitting, we are of the view that the facilitator’s process is not capable of providing a permanent solution to the problems faced by the Federation. We are adamant that this process has not only been undermined by leaks and misrepresentation in the media by faceless sources to smear the General Secretary. In addition, the secretariat report to the NEHAWU National Congress has already publicly pronounced on the contents of the process, which have been widely reported in the media.
Our interpretation of these statements is that they are in fact consistent in singling out the General Secretary of Cosatu to destroy his character, integrity and political credibility.
Numsa is convinced that all submissions to the facilitated process must be made available to all Cosatu structures and its affiliates. As Numsa, we are clear that the correct platform to deal with some of the challenges besieging our federation – Cosatu – is through a special National Congress. Cosatu is a worker-controlled trade union federation, and its rightful owners, the workers, should not be left-outside, but they should be part of the process to deal with these challenges faced by Cosatu.
3. On Section 77 Notice and National Stay-Away:
Given the challenges faced by Cosatu and its inability to advance programmes and campaigns that are geared towards improving the conditions of the workers and the poor of our country, the NEC has mandated the National Office Bearers (NOBs’), to mobilize Metalworkers into the streets, in line with the Cosatu section 77 disputes. The national stay-away will be on the following demands, as resolved by the 11th National Congress of Cosatu;
1 Full implementation of the Freedom Charter, which includes:
a. Ownership of the Means of Production
i) Re-nationalise Sasol and Arcelor Mittal (AMSA)
ii) De-commercialise ESKOM and Telkom
iii) Nationalise the mines.
iv) No privatisation of rail or other SOEs
b. Control of industry to include, among other things, beneficiation of chrome ore, manganese, platinum and all other strategic minerals, and impose an export tax on raw minerals.
c. Ban on the exportation of scrap metals and rebuild our foundries
d. Demand for the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank and Return of capital controls and ending inflation targeting
e. Ban on labour broking and an end to labour deregulation (including wage subsidies) and the national minimum wage
f. Ban import parity pricing
g. Export tax on all strategic minerals (check with SACTWU what are their issues)
h. Increase on tariffs to deal with dumping
i. Progressive taxation
j. Setting of a target for reduction of low wage employment (16:1)
It was agreed that we should target the 2nd of September 2013 for our action and therefore this must be informed by detailing the demands and submission to Nedlac BUT be flexible on the date given the long drawn out discussions in Nedlac.
4. The “classification” of the eNkandla Report:
Along with many South Africans, we are deeply concerned about the circumstances surrounding the “classification” of the eNkandla Report by the Ministry of Public Works. As Numsa, we call for the de-classification of the Report within the context of openness, transparency and accountability. A dark cloud of suspicion of corruption and looting of the public purse hangs over this whole matter and only through an expeditious and transparent process will settle or resolve the matter.
Also as South Africans, we deserve to know the underlying reasons which led to the Department of Public Works and others involved to approve and use such a huge quantum renovating a private residence of a sitting President, amidst the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
This is an unprecedented expenditure since the democratic breakthrough of 1994, and calls for the review of all privileges enjoyed by those holding elected public positions.
We are fully aware that those who disagree with this principled position will seek to portray us as “populist” or “flirting with the enemy”, and further play to the hands of the opposition. Our response is quite clear – the eNkandla renovations represent the worst form of squandering of public resources to satisfy the private accumulation interests of tenderpreneurs.
We call on those responsible for this scandalous and wasteful expenditure to face the real consequences of their actions and be shown the door.
5. On New Age
The NEC re-iterated Numsa’s disgust at the New Age report which said our General Secretary, Cde Irvin Jim, was part of a meeting held in Polokwane by the EFF, plotting for the formation of a new political party.
The NEC viewed the New Age report as an attempt to de-legitimise our General Secretary, to deal with Numsa’s stand on crucial issues of national importance, such as the NDP and our consistent call for a socialist-oriented NDR, which should be marked by nationalization of the key sectors of the economy as enshrined in the Freedom Charter.
The NEC took exception to the New Age behavior, because it is part of an agenda to isolate and liquidate Numsa’s contribution to on-going debates about the direction of the country. Having said this, we want to re-iterate our position that we reserve the right to meet whomever we wish to meet in pursuance of our socialist programme.
In the analyses of the NEC, these reckless and unsubstantiated claims have the following objectives in mind;
(a) To collapse Numsa’s stature, profile and social standing in society amongst the workers, the poor and the broader working class;
(b) To liquidate and reduce NUMSA to a gumboots and factory based trade union whose influence in society must not be considered genuine or legitimate;
(c) Our criticism of anti-working class policies emerging from our ANC government must be projected as nothing else but an oppositionist stance which is no different from the DA.
6. On the SACP General Secretary Interview on Etv, Neoliberalism and the NDP
On the 9th July 2013, the General Secretary of the SACP was interviewed on the Justice Factor about, among other things, the position of the SACP on the NDP. In that interview he disapproved of Numsa’s view that the NDP is a carbon-copy of DA policies, and left viewers with an impression that, other than the economy and economy-related chapters, the NDP contains “quite good” proposals. To substantiate his point he quoted the NDP chapter on Human Settlements.
What was furthermore worrying to us was his complete denial that neoliberalism continues to dominate South Africa’s policy-making.
Remember in 1996 we said, the basic tenets of neo-liberal policy can be summarized as follows:
• Trade liberalization (Allow imports and exports to flow freely in and out of the country)
• Financial liberalization (Allow money to get in and out of the country freely and relaxation of capital controls)
• Labour market deregulation (make it easy to hire and fire workers, wages must fall when there is high unemployment and rise when unemployment is low)
• Limited role of the state (privatise state activities, enter into private public partnerships, outsource so-called non-core functions, etc.)
• Fiscal austerity (cut back government spending, “reprioritise expenditure”, implement cost recovery policies on basic services, apply user-pay principle as far as possible, including through tariffs and e-tolls in order to pay for services)
• Tight monetary policy (inflation should be the overriding concern of the central bank, not employment or industrial development, interest rate is the primary tool through which the central bank should control the economy)
• Central bank independence (no political interference with Reserve Bank operations, democratically elected leaders cannot use the Reserve Bank as an instrument to pursue the developmental agenda).
The General Secretary of the SACP has now told the entire nation that all the above features have now disappeared; there is no neoliberalism in South Africa under Cde Jacob Zuma’s administration. We differ with this view and we will elaborate our perspective further in our reflections on the SACP’s stance on the NDP, including evaluating whether it is correct to suggest that other chapters in the NDP are “quite good”.
We, however, wish to underline that we stand by our position that the NDP is a carbon copy of DA policies, an issue that we will deal with in detail in our reflection on the SACP’s stance on the NDP.
We remain resolute in our positions about the NDP and our principled rejection of neoliberalism, despite being rubbished by forces in the ANC, SACP and COSATU for our principled analyses that White Monopoly Capital remains the main beneficiary post the 1994 democratic breakthrough and that almost all government economic policies is geared towards entrenching the dominance, ownership and control of White Monopoly Capital in sea of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
7. NEC resolution on botched circumcision:
The gender structure of NUMSA has appealed to the NUMSA NEC of 9-10 July 2013 to condemn the practice of circumcision when it is done by under-qualified people who claim that they are experts.
The Numsa NEC is repulsed by the dying of young people and those who are being severely maimed by botched circumcisions.
The Numsa Gender structure together with the Numsa Youth Forum are tasked by the NEC to develop a campaign that will start anytime soon in mobilizing people about this practice, so that during the next round of circumcisions at the end of the year, the deaths and emasculations of initiates comes to an end.
As Numsa we respect the national custom and tradition of circumcision but we demand of provincial and national government to stamp out the unhealthy and unsafe practices that result in the death and maiming we have seen in Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape provinces.
The Numsa NEC calls for the arrest of those responsible for the killings and maiming so that the law may take its course
8. Carbon tax:
As the government has made known its intention to introduce a carbon tax in January 2015, the NEC received detailed reports on discussion in NUMSA regions on the proposed tax. The workshops we held last weekend with the aim of shaping the union submission on the proposed tax. National Treasury has set 02 August 2013 as the deadline for comments on the second Carbon Tax Policy Paper, Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and facilitating the transition to a green economy for public comment.
While the NEC agreed that the debate on the carbon tax must continue within NUMSA and that the union will make its views public at the end of July, the union insists that burden of the transition to a low-carbon economy cannot be borne by the working class.
Issued by National Executive Committee (NEC)
Deputy General Secretary