Mixed reaction from Cosatu branches over Numsa expulsion

Cosatu's expulsion of Numsa has been met with mixed reaction from some of its provincial structures.

Cosatu leadership at Press conference at Cosatu House in Johannesburg on 11 November 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerein/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The expulsion of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) from Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has been met with mixed reaction from some of the federation's provincial structures, where the metalworkers union has called on its members to continue attending meetings.

Numsa was voted out of Cosatu by 33 votes to 24 last weekend and the decision has since exposed the rift between rival affiliates.

Seven unions have defended the metalworkers union and called for its reinstatement, while the rest have either remained silent or backed the decision to expel.

In KwaZulu-Natal, Cosatu provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize said they had no choice but to implement the decision.

"We are bound by the decisions of the Central Executive Committee because once the organisation takes a decision, all the views of individuals don't exist."

But Cosatu leaders in the Eastern Cape, where the federation has about half a million paid up members, has described the move as divisive and without basis.

In the Western Cape, Cosatu leader Tony Erhenriech says their structures have not discussed the matter and cannot comment.

Yesterday, the trade federation's general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, wrote a letter to union leaders in which he said he didn't attend Monday's press conference because he cannot defend the decision to expel Numsa.

He says the decision that was taken has the potential to destroy Cosatu.

In the two page document, Vavi says while he has in the past defended decisions he didn't agree with because of his belief in democratic centralism, he simply cannot defend the decision to expel Numsa.

He says this decision is contradicting and undermining organised workers and will have momentous implications for years to come.

Vavi also wrote that he's not doing public interviews because that might further jeopardise Cosatu and force it to jump off a cliff.

To read the full letter, click here.