Numsa will now recruit from mining sector, says Jim [South Africa mining unions conflict] – by Matuma Letsoalo (Mail and Guardian – December 18, 2013) [Johannesburg, South Africa]

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim has declared war on the National Union of Mineworkers, saying it will recruit openly in the mining industry.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim has declared war on its sister union – the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – saying his union would now recruit openly in the mining industry and welcome NUM members who wanted to join Numsa.

In a move that is intended to appeal to the mining community, Numsa on Wednesday asked its members to donate anything from R100 towards the Marikana Trust, to support families of the 34 miners who were killed by police in August last year.

The NUM, which has been accused by workers of having close ties with mining companies, has lost thousands of workers to rival union Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu). As a results of this, the union lost its prime status as Cosatu’s largest union to Numsa.

Delivering his secretariat report at the Numsa special congress on Wednesday, Jim said Numsa was no longer prepared to listen to those in Cosatu, who said the union should not organise in mining and other sectors.

“We are no longer going to reject any worker who comes [from the NUM] to Numsa. If people want to take that as poaching, well, workers are not rhinos but human beings. The focus on Numsa membership must be rejected. [Cosatu] Public sector unions are recruiting among themselves. They [those opposed to the idea of Numsa recruiting in other sectors] can go to hell. We will recruit workers that come to us and want to belong to the organisation.”

Numsa, according to its documents, is planning to recruit workers in mining, construction, chemical and petroleum industries. The decision goes against Cosatu’s long-standing resolution of one union per sector. Jim also urged delegates to discuss whether his union should continue to contribute towards Cosatu’s political levy, which goes to the South African Communist Party whose leaders continue to attack Numsa. He said the only sin that Numsa has committed was to criticise the ANC for failing to implement radical policies for the benefit of the poor.

‘Support ANC’

“The battle is not about anything. This grouping [pro-Jacob Zuma faction] wants us to support the ANC, ANC, ANC. But the ANC does not have an agenda for the working class. Why must we support it? If the ANC is not willing to support the interest of the working class, what must we do? That’s our challenge. That’s why we are being hated. We say ANC must ban labour brokers, do away with the national development plan and stop privatising public roads. Why must we fear to say that when the ANC by its own nature is a multiclass organisation?” said Jim.

He said leaders like ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa made sure there was no resolution on the strategic nationalisation of key sectors during the ANC national conference in Mangaung last December.

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