POPCRU ON NUMSA’S EXPULSION FROM COSATU
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) is a public sector union organising 158 000 workers in the South African Police Service, Correctional Services and Traffic components. We are proudly affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions and for the past nineteen years we have been together with others responsible for the growth of the federation into the giant movement it is today. POPCRU is a majority union in the security sector and continues to grow in leaps and bounds. This, we deem as confidence by our members and those who join us every day in our capacity and ability to protect their needs and ensure better working conditions for all. Our primary mandate is exactly that, to see to it that our members’ quality of life improves and that their working conditions are according to internationally conferred conducive standards.
It is therefore only normal that we should be worried about the current state of COSATU, however more so about the misconstrued information that is being peddled into the public discourse through the media by NUMSA along with unions of its ilk.
We have watched in silence as our name was dragged through the mud. Due to our respect towards a mandate passed by our members that we should abide by the rules and principles of the federation, we have been silent on matters many deemed important for us to respond to. In their post CEC press conference, the Metalworkers Union stated that POPCRU had spoken against the COSATU campaign on e-tolls. We need to correct this lie by stating what was resolved in an October NEC of POPCRU. The organisation was against the form of protest used by COSATU which involved actions which entailed criminality and NOT the campaign against the e-tolls. We are fully bound by the federation’s policy position on this matter. We were concerned with the call on citizens to resort to anarchy in registering their discontent with the user-pay model of the improved highways. POPCRU expressed at the time a concern, as we believed the call would be deemed as encouragement by those who want to perpetuate criminality through protests.
We raise our voice today, seeing that all processes have been concluded up to this point on the issues at hand. And we wish to state that we supported for the expulsion of NUMSA from the federation for violating the federation’s policy positions and principles. This, as we once again carried our mandate given by the union’s 158 000 members in the past and most recently at our Central Executive Committee 02 – 04 November 2014 in Limpopo mandated us to call for NUMSA’s expulsion. At the core of this decision is the fact that NUMSA has blatantly violated the COSATU constitution and its policies. The federations’ constitution is very clear on what should happen to affiliates who commit such desecrations. We grew tired of the incessant insults hurled towards us and the COSATU leadership by a fellow affiliate.
Our members further expressed their disgust at being associated with this union which made clear its intentions to break away from COSATU and form a structure which would pursue principles opposed to those of the federation. They therefore concluded that if NUMSA could not change its stance, it should leave voluntarily, otherwise we should bravely vote its expulsion in favour of a united COSATU which speaks with one voice. We could not watch as an affiliate made a mockery of the federation with the belief that they would be protected by their majority status. POPCRU is confident that COSATU has not lost 350 000 plus members who are carried by the NUMSA banner because it will remain a home for all progressive workers of this country despite their affiliation to the now expelled NUMSA.
The federation had been dragged to court, in the process we have been attacked and called names and we see no reason to continue on this repulsive path. It would be easier to rebuild the federation with those who advocated its survival and unity than fighting off dissent from within. POPCRU and its members, understand the magnitude of the decision to expel NUMSA. We are however comfortable in the knowledge that we have done all within our power to remedy the situation without resorting to extreme measures, but we have failed dismally in the face of strengthened attacks on COSATU by the NUMSA leadership. We also want to use this opportunity to appeal to the NUMSA leadership, that not all is lost, should they realign their principles with those of the federation, and the door will be swiftly opened for their return to the fold. There’s always room for change and we are of the view that if the NUMSA leadership truly value unity and the survival of the federation, then they can assist everybody by abiding by the COSATU Constitution and reclaiming their place within the federation.
POPCRU is an affiliate of COSATU, thus unashamedly members and supporters of the African National Congress and the SACP. Our alliance in the tri-partite alliance and co-operation is something we hold dear to our hearts because none of us would be here today, enjoying the right to union affiliation, had it not been for the ANC government. We are also aware of our role in the need to protect the movement as a whole in the face of direct attacks from those who deem themselves and nobody else able to lead the federation successfully.
NUMSA has made several statements regarding the ANC led government and its programmes, specifically the NDP. We respect the right to self-determination of the former COSATU union. There are processes which are set out, including discussion forums such as the Alliance Summit, which provide all involved to present their position on a variety of issues, and NUMSA had such an opportunity. If then failure to convince the majority leads to disassociation, we should have been wary of NUMSA a long time ago.
It is proven beyond doubt that the union which is now expelled from the federation has always sought to distinguish itself as an entity outside the prescripts of the federation. Their resolve to deliberately misinterpret resolutions of COSATU is indicative of a union destined for a different direction than that of the collective. The following are examples of such tendencies:
NUMSA’s call on COSATU to break away from the alliance.
The decision to establish a new United Front
Side by Side with the establishment of the new United Front, NUMSA will explore the establishment of a Movement for Socialism as the working class needs a political organisation committed to its policies and actions to the establishment of a socialist South Africa.
All this surfaces whilst the federation held a firm view that amongst other things, our policies must be underpinned by our ideological vision of a socialist society in deepening the relationship with the SACP, COSATU should provide resources that will help strengthen the SACP and transform it into a formidable force capable of meeting challenges and leading the struggle for socialism. And that COSATU should further establish party units in workplaces and strengthen the SACP. In light of these resolutions by the federation, we see no need for NUMSA to have undertaken any of the resolutions as they seek to achieve a mandate parallel to the work COSATU has begun in striving for a socialist South Africa.
All of us are governed by democratic centralism. This concept is applicable all the time, when you win and when you lose. When during the COSATU 11th congress POPCRU failed to convince delegates to vote along with us on a motion to go to the polls for a new leadership, we humbly accepted the decision of the majority which is binding to all affiliates. This is how we expected any other affiliate to behave. Hence we are shocked by the decision of the 7 fellow affiliates who took to the media to announce they would not be taking part in COSATU meetings. We deem this behaviour as immature and unprogressive, as it is similar to rants of a child who cannot get their own way. During these testing times, we appeal to these affiliates to exercise discipline and hold dear the values which have governed this giant federation for decades.
All affiliates were present in the Special Central Executive Committee of 07 November 2014 and witnessed democracy at play. we are therefore very shocked they are contesting a decision which they were party to in the public discourse. This also includes the General Secretary of the federation who has taken it upon himself to publicly distance himself from the decision of the federation, which he also is part of and is supposed to uphold. POPCRU has long wondered about the General Secretary’s motives and loyalty to the federation since his office is charged with the responsibility of implementing the resolutions of the federation. He appears to be acting contrary to these decisions, with his recent letter pointing to that fact. He cannot act as an individual and remove himself from the collective COSATU leadership as he pleases if he is indeed interested in the unity of the federation.
On the questions surrounding the presence of the 2nd Deputy President of COSATU within the federation despite her disaffiliation to NUMSA, we would like to put it on record that Zingiswa Losi is an elected POPCRU shop steward serving as a chairperson under Thaba Tshwane Local. She was elected shortly after her appointment in the South African Police Service where she took a vow to serve and protect the citizens of this country. She occupied this role following her resignation from her previous employment at Ford.
We are resolute that the decision to rid the federation of NUMSA is a building block to a COSATU that speaks with one voice when a decision is taken for the benefit of all workers in the country and abroad. We also agree with the COSATU leadership that indeed the unity of the federation is the ultimate price and we are willing to do all in our power to achieve this.
Issued by POPCRU 17 November 2014
For more information contact;
POPCRU General Secretary