Numsa to appeal interdict of controversial congress, proceed with event on Wednesday

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa secretary-general Irvin Jim Photo: Gallo Images
National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa secretary-general Irvin Jim Photo: Gallo Images
  • The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa said it would appeal the Labour Court ruling interdicting its national congress in Cape Town this week.
  • The union also said its special central committee meeting resolved the constitutional concerns of the Labour Court and the congress would proceed on Wednesday.
  • In Numsa’s appeal affidavit it claims Judge Graham Moshoana erred multiple times in his interpretation of the Numsa constitution.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s (Numsa) special central committee (SCC) meeting on Tuesday resolved to appeal the Labour Court’s interdict against the union’s controversial congress this week, and decided that the event would proceed on Wednesday.

Numsa said in a statement on Wednesday morning that it believed it had rectified the Labour Court’s concerns regarding the national congress, which was supposed to start on Monday at Cape Town’s International Convention Centre (CTICC).

The union’s second deputy president and president of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) Ruth Ntlokotse and 30 other suspended officials successfully challenged their suspensions at the Labour Court in Johannesburg last week.

Sources have told Fin24 that the suspensions served to prevent Ntlokotse from contesting the position of Numsa president as well as prevent Vuyo Lefele from challenging for the position of Numsa secretary general from Irvin Jim.

The Numsa statement said the SCC decided that no suspensions should be re-imposed and that the individuals who were previously suspended will be permitted to attend and participate in the congress.

“Numsa is accordingly satisfied that, as a law-abiding trade union, it is acting in accordance with the Labour Court judgment,” the statement said.

READ | Numsa’s lawyers say special meeting will solve issues, allow congress to go ahead

The Numsa statement however said the SCC resolved to appeal against the judgment, adding that it contained “patent errors”, including characterising Numsa’s Mpumalanga region as the union’s biggest region “instead of the smallest region”.

“It nevertheless also resolved that it will be prudent to take all steps possible to ensure that Numsa acts within the four corners of its constitution and by the content of the judgment,” the statement said.

Numsa’s appeal affidavit said Labour Court Judge Graham Moshoana “erred” in his interpretation of the powers that the Numsa constitution gives to the central committee.

READ | Chaos looms as Numsa delegates arrive for interdicted congress

The union said on Wednesday that its SCC meeting resolved that the congress would proceed with the planned congress as a cancellation of the event with delegates already present at the CTICC would result in wasted costs amounting to R39 million. The statement said the union would do this “in full compliance with the Labour Court’s judgment”.

On Tuesday a memo shared by suspended officials said the gathering in Cape Town could not hold a congress in full compliance with the Labour Court judgment as 52 local shop steward council meetings would need to take place, as well as an audit of subscription-paying Numsa members and the election of delegates from each region.

The suspended officials accused the union of cutting corners to push ahead for the congress.

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