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The alleged de-registration of Cosatu affiliated unions by the Department of Labour
16 August 2012
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa feels extremely angry, dismayed and provoked by the allegation that Numsa amongst other Cosatu affiliated Unions is to be deregistered by the Department Of Labour.
We are keen to establish why this story is popping up at this point and why particularly ahead of the Cosatu 11th National Congress to be convened in September 2012.
Before we deal with the false allegations as they appeared on the front page of Sowetan on 15th August 2012, let us briefly touch on the context within which this is unfolding;
1. Workers on farms are still languishing in the apartheid brutality of being ill-treated by farm bosses. We continue to see vulnerable workers in the mines, smelters, engineering sector, in small companies in the motor sector, in the clothing and textile industry, as well as casualized and exploited workers in the retail sector of our economy. In general terms we see vulnerable workers in our country whose quality is valued by huge profits that they produce for bosses but who through their sweat and toil are robbed in broad daylight by unscrupulous and vicious labour brokers.
2. What deepens our anger is that at the point where these workers should be expecting fundamental change in their lives, 18 years later they live side by side with poverty, inequality and unemployment as their permanent neighbours. In whose class interest is it that workers must now hear that all their unions on which they pin their hopes are to be deregistered?
3. This story is unfolding when for some time in our country since our democracy all the gains and benefits that workers have won have been presented as a threat. This happens at a time where capitalists have been winning the ideological war and constantly shaping South Africa`s public opinion that the threat in our country is not poverty, unemployment and inequality but trade unions.
This battle is also championed by the National Treasury and the Democratic Alliance of Mazibuko and Zille, with full support of one of the architects and the champions of the apartheid system and its laws, the honourable Mr FW De Klerk.
4. This story unfolds when Numsa and other Cosatu Unions are fighting a serious battle to reject the national youth wage subsidy and e-tolling.
Let us turn to the facts of the so-called deregistration of Cosatu affiliated trade unions and Numsa in particular;
1. Numsa felt it has become extremely important to put the record straight that Numsa as an organization has consistently complied with the provisions of the Labour Relations Act. Yesterday the Numsa National Office Bearers and our Chief Financial Officer met with the department of labour. Both parties made it clear that there was never an intention or basis to fail the test of compliance or the suggested deregistration of Numsa.
2. Whereas we complied there have been queries which the department needed to be clarified on. What they did was to give those minor issues they wanted Numsa to clarify, to Cosatu. An opportunist got the document that was given to Cosatu and used it in their desperate agenda to discredit Numsa and the Cosatu leadership. These opportunists could basically not wait to embark on a cheap publicity ploy to sensationalize what was completely uncontroversial and Numsa can confirm to the public that as a union we have answered all the minor queries about our submission with the department of labour yesterday, 15th August 2012.
3. The Department of Labour did send a letter dated the 7 August 2012 covering minor queries that Numsa needed to answer like for instance they thought that Numsa did separate audits of regional accounts from the National account. But we have given them proof that Numsa is a National union and therefore our audited National account is inclusive of regional expenditure. We asked them why this should be a big issue when it could have been clarified with a telephone call. They claim that during the course of the year they did try to contact Numsa through sending letters through registered post which we never received. This is something we shall follow up.
4. The DOL further queried that Numsa did give them 2010 audited financial statements but they were still a draft so they needed the final audited financial statements which they were subsequently provided with. We have accounted on all their queries and such a process could have been done without creating the wrong perception about Numsa. In our view their reliance on registered post was extremely bureaucratic. Instead of talking direct to the leadership of Numsa they sent an e-mail to Cosatu and it was this e-mail which fell into opportunistic hands who made sure that there was a big sensational article which appeared in the Sowetan yesterday telling lies about Numsa.
5. The Department’s explanation of how the state of affairs had arisen was that it had addressed 3 letters to Numsa, of which we informed them that only the most recent had come to Numsa’s attention, in which case we provided all the information requested by the Department of Labour. It requested compliance with its requirements. These letters were sent to Numsa by registered post. The Department did not hold itself responsible if the letters did not come to Numsa’s attention as it felt it had done all it was required to do. It then addressed an e-mail to Cosatu and advised it which unions had not met the Department’s requirements. It is this e-mail that appears to have come to the attention of the Sowetan who, for reasons known only to itself, sensationalised what was, in essence, an administrative document.
6. Mr. Mkalipi the Deputy Director General of Labour was asked why, firstly, registered mail had been utilised in the day of electronic communication and secondly why, having not had a response from Numsa, it did not assume that in the face of a history of compliance, it could not simply pick up the phone and ask why Numsa was not responding to correspondence. He was also asked why Numsa was not copied in the report to Cosatu. He stated that the Department had done all that it was required to do in delivering letters by registered mail, it did not deliver them by e-mail as it could not track its e-mails and it did not phone Numsa as this is not what it normally did. We agreed that matters could have been done differently.
7. The meeting ended with an agreement that the DOL shall communicate directly with Numsa per e-mail and with an agreement that Numsa had provided adequate explanations.
Set out below we are pondering over what we think constitutes the motivation for this outrageous story;
1. The front page of Sowetan bore the Numsa General Secretary’s photograph and the headline suggested that Union members face being unrepresented and that the unions were in a crisis. The heading of the article on the second page stated that the majority of Cosatu unions faced deregistration for failure to comply with the Department of Labour’s requirements in regard to annual reporting.
2. Numsa was one of the unions mentioned and we were extremely concerned that our members would accept the inaccurate report at face value and would lose confidence in Numsa as an organization in particular its leadership. In fact this has been a consistent agenda within the liberation alliance where all the time Numsa, in particular its leadership, should be isolated, singled out from the rest of Cosatu affiliates, get attacked for absolutely no reason so that its membership must lose confidence. This is a liquidationist Stalinist agenda championed by some among us.
3. Numsa has noticed that over time within the alliance some individuals, whom we know, have lost their revolutionary morality and what our struggle has been about. These are individuals who are willing to use big revolutionary theory, who creatively and opportunistically deploy Marxism forgetting that Marxism is truthful only for one class and that class is the working class. These individuals have become extremely vicious and desperate. At the beginning they targeted the Numsa general secretary for isolation and they remain cunning and desperate in executing their project of isolating Numsa. They are of the view that Numsa as an organization in particular its leadership must be constantly scandalized and completely discredited. They will stop at nothing - their daggers are out night and day. The truth of the matter is that they are willing to use everything to attack Numsa and by doing so they will be able to undermine Cosatu leadership in particular and if the truth be told they want to liquidate Cosatu’s General Secretary, Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi.
4. Numsa has always been aware that Cosatu is a centre of focus simply because it has taken the side of the working class and the poor. However in the recent past it has become fashionable and consistent that a particular force within the liberation alliance, as well as the DA, has attacked Numsa. The strategy has been very simple and cheap - attack Numsa all the time, present its leadership as a bunch of fools, discredit them in the eyes of its members so that later you make damn sure that they are liquidated.
5. There is nothing that demonstrates this desperation like the recent Sowetan saga of deregistration coined around all Cosatu unions being presented as facing deregistration and just two unions that were presented as having met all department of labour requirements. Numsa is presented as having been a force that is leading this non- compliance with the department of labour and the Numsa General Secretary’s face becomes the face of the crisis again to ensure that Numsa is viewed by its members as having failed them and to create unnecessary panic with a view to weaken Numsa’s public standing in particular with its members.
6. Numsa in the recent past has experienced a consistent and persistent attack from some individuals within the liberation movement. These individuals attack Numsa completely unprovoked. They will pick on Numsa and seek to undermine its leadership. They will stop at nothing especially during this silly season of congress more specifically the one of Cosatu. It has also become fashionable to attack Cosatu General Secretary comrade Vavi and the first target in that process is to attack Numsa and its leadership. The good example is an opportunistic agenda of lying to create an impression that Cosatu has become very weak under his leadership to a point where all Cosatu unions are to be deregistered and only two are in good standing.
We can confirm to our members that their union is extremely healthy and it is organizationally strong. However what we have become clear about is that because Numsa as an organization has been calling for revolutionary and fundamental change and its leadership has got a holy duty to champion the mandate of our members, we have created many friends and many enemies. We want to tell all those who are busy tiptoeing in the shadows that their agenda of trying to isolate Numsa and to consistently attack the leadership of Cosatu and the rest of Cosatu unions, in particular Cosatu General Secretary, that workers will crush them as they know that their unions and the leaders they elected democratically take mandates and account to them, not to the media.
Numsa will have a full central committee on the 26th to 31th of August where we shall leave no stone unturned both in reflecting on the challenges confronting the democratic movement and how rightwing political parties like the DA have gained confidence without being given sufficient attention by revolutionary forces in our country.
NUMSA National Office Bearers
Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary, 073 157 6384
Cedric Gina, NUMSA President, 083 633 5381
Karl Cloete, NUMSA Deputy General Secretary, 083 389 0777
Mphumzi Maqungo, NUMSA National Treasurer, 073 159 2108
Christene Olivier, NUMSA 2nd Deputy President, 073 725 7748