NUMSA ‘schools’ LIMUSA on wage talks in Engineering

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) feels it is necessary to enlighten LIMUSA on the complexities of wage talks in the Engineering sector.
NUMSA and other unions participated in wage talks under the auspices of the MEIBC. We recently signed an agreement with SEIFSA one of the largest employer associations in the sector. We note the statement issued by LIMUSA where they reject the wage deal. We have also noted that Cedric Gina, the General Secretary of LIMUSA, is suffering from serious delusions about the nature and scope of wage talks, particularly in the Engineering sector.
Below are five reasons why LIMUSA is not in any position to reject the MEIBC Engineering Agreement:
1. NUMSA has 350 000 members, LIMUSA has five. First of all, in order for a trade union like LIMUSA to reject a wage agreement, they have to participate in wage talks and in order to do that, they have to have a membership of more than five people. LIMUSA was unable to participate in the wage talks because they are incapable of organizing and recruiting members. They cannot organize a stokvel, let alone a trade union. Currently their entire membership is made up mostly of Mr. Gina’s friends and immediate family. We must remind him that NUMSA is not a Spaza shop.
We represent over 350 thousand metalworkers and he must stop hallucinating about strike action. NUMSA only goes on strike after a proper analysis of the balance of forces, a process which the General Secretary of LIMUSA couldn’t possibly begin to understand. Although he had the privilege of being the President of NUMSA in the past, after all those years at the trade union he still fails to grasp the basics of wage negotiations and the principle of worker control. During his tenure at the union he never participated in wage talks and therefore has no clue how such processes are handled.
2. Worker control. NUMSA canvassed and consulted its members in all nine regions on whether to go on strike or not in Engineering and the majority of our members decided to accept the settlement offer. That is the principle of worker control, a concept which is alien to Mr. Gina. Whilst he was president of NUMSA, Gina tried and failed to impose the agenda of the ANC and the SACP onto our members in a desperate attempt to prevent the historic NUMSA moment of 2013 from being realized.
It was at that historic Special National Congress where our members resoundingly rejected the governing party and its leadership for being corrupt crony capitalists. We also recognized that the governing party was abusing the alliance and simply using it to rubber stamp decisions to justify its defense of capitalism and neoliberal economic policies like GEAR and the NDP.  Unfortunately Mr. Gina never got over the NUMSA moment and even though he has left the union, he still tries desperately to sow divisions in the movement from outside. Mr. Gina must accept that when one resigns, it means that he no longer has a say in what happens in the union. He is living in the past and is struggling to deal with the reality of no longer being part of a militant workers movement.
3. NUMSA remains a militant trade union and is growing from strength to strength. For the first time we participated in wage talks in the bus sector and because of NUMSA’s militancy workers received a fixed increase of 9%, and a marked improvement in benefits.
NUMSA was the driving force behind the bus strike and we exposed the shocking, inhumane working conditions faced by ordinary members in that sector. These were conditions which unions like SATAWU had been comfortable with.  So in future we want to advise Mr. Gina not to speak about things he has no clue about even if he is overwhelmed by blatant opportunism. We could have secured more for our members had we not been betrayed by SATAWU. Were it not for us, our members would have received the usual 4% spilt wage increase which is typical of the kind of settlement that SATAWU makes in that that sector.
4. NUMSA is recognized as the champion of the working class.  A simple Google search will expose all the victories and the inroads that NUMSA has made in fighting for ordinary workers. Workers can see that we are an independent trade union which is truly worker controlled.  NUMSA’s 2013 Special National Congress was truly revolutionary indeed. We were and continue to be radical change agents in trade union politics.
Our decision to reject the ANC and its corrupt leadership sent shockwaves in the political space in the country. Four years after that historic ‘NUMSA moment’ and we continue to grow from strength to strength because of our decision to organize along the value chain. We are not a general union. We represent workers in aviation, in the bus sector, Petro SA, in State Owned Enterprises and also in the automotive and engineering sectors, to name just a few.
5. Mr. Gina has been exposed for being ideologically bankrupt.  The general secretary of LIMUSA is beginning to sound like a broken record. When he left us he peddled lies about a dictatorship at NUMSA to cover up for the fact that he was exposed for being ideologically bankrupt. Mr. Gina hates the fact that NUMSA is worker controlled and truly independent of the corruption of ANC politics.
The General Secretary of LIMUSA fantasizes about a future where his 5 member trade union has relevance. However when one reads the LIMUSA website, the only battles which have been recorded are those in defense of the President of the union, Siboniso Mdletshe.
There are no records of any other battles to further the interests of ordinary workers. It is clear that the so-called ‘Liberated Metalworkers of South Africa’ has been created only to uphold the fake façade of workers militancy. In practice it is nothing more than hollow a vehicle for yellow bellied trade unionists who are desperate for relevance.
We are inspired by comrade Fidel Castro, the former president of Cuba who said:
“A revolution is not a trail off roses. A revolution is a fight to the death between the future and the past.”
Workers cannot be fooled and that is why LIMUSA will never grow. It will continue to be nothing more than a clanging noise inside a dying ANC and the alliance. NUMSA is forging ahead into the future where workers will define their own destiny.
Issued by
Phakamile Hlubi
NUMSA National Spokesperson (Acting)