After a year of wrangling between the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the National Union of Metalworkers Union (Numsa), the metalworkers union was officially expelled during a special central executive committee (CEC) on the 8th of November 2014.
CEC members voted on whether Numsa should stay with 33 votes for expulsion and 24 against it. A day before it was suspended, Numsa went to court to try and prevent its expulsion. The case was postponed and the CEC meeting went ahead.
Cosatu has accused Numsa of, among other things, violating its constitution, not supporting its alliance partner the African National Congress in the May general election, poaching members from affiliates, and withholding its fee to Cosatu.
Before the expulsion Numsa general-secretary Irvin Jim, in turn, accused Cosatu of, among other things, refusing to hold the special national congress requested by nine of its affiliates, so new leadership could be elected.
Numsa accused Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini and most of the CEC of breaching the clause in the constitution dealing with the special national congress.
Cosatu also suspended its general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi last year for having an affair with a junior employee. Numsa challenged his suspension in court. It was overturned earlier this year and Vavi returned to work.
On the charges against Numsa, Jim said Cosatu had withheld information from the union, had failed to give its reasons for this, and had set unreasonable deadlines.
At its December congress, Numsa resolved to form the United Front, intending that it would contest the local government elections in 2016.
Jim said Numsa would remain a trade union and would not turn into a political party. Numsa has 30 days to appeal its expulsion.
– Additional reporting by Sapa
– By Palesa Kobedi