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'Numsa's expulsion is bad for ANC and Cosatu'

The ANC’s Gwede Mantashe says Numsa’s expulsion from Cosatu is bad for South Africa's worker movement.

FILE: The ANC’s Gwede Mantashe says Numsa’s expulsion from Cosatu is bad for South Africa's worker movement. Picture: EPA.

JOHANNESBURG - African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe says the expulsion of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) from Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is bad for South Africa's worker movement and society at large.

The 349,000 member-strong metalworkers union was expelled from Cosatu in the early hours of Saturday morning, after protracted factional battles over recruitment and support for the ANC.

Numsa was expelled by a vote of 33 to 24 after months of infighting and a widening rift between the union and Cosatu bosses.

Mantashe says it marks the beginning of a weak labour movement.

The ruling party has described Numsa's exit as tragic and says it will ultimately impact on the strength of the tripartite alliance.

The metalworkers union has accused the ANC of masterminding its downfall.

Mantashe says something extraordinary is required to minimise the damage.

"The expulsion is bad for Cosatu and the ANC. A divided Cosatu is the beginning to a weakness and we don't know if reason will ever prevail again."

NUMSA TO HOLD PRESS BRIEFING

Numsa is holding a media briefing in a short while at its head office in Newtown in Johannesburg.

General secretary Irvin Jim has previously indicated that Numsa will look at fighting the expulsion in court as he believes the proper steps were not taken in its removal from South Africa's biggest trade union federation.

But not everyone has seen the expulsion as a negative.

Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) says this has created the opportunity for a new collective of independent unions to unite under one banner.

Fedusa and South Africa's second largest worker federation, Nactu, have both described Numsa's exit as a dark day for South Africa's labour movement but also as a turning point.

Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said, "Trade unions should be independent and not aligned to any political party and the split will create a stronger and more independent voice for workers in this country."