Toll March Bares Split between Cosatu and Numsa Business Watch

Cape Times (South Africa), November 22, 2013 | Go to article overview

Toll March Bares Split between Cosatu and Numsa Business Watch


There is no denying that the rift between the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Cosatu is becoming a chasm. Nevertheless, Cosatu said yesterday that thousands of workers had poured onto the streets in its rolling three-day mass action against e-tolling last week.

"Despite the challenges we face, our campaign of rolling mass action showed that Cosatu is still a powerful revolutionary force," the labour federation said.

"We must, however, prioritise workers' unity and speak with one clear voice."

But the mass action was not supported by Numsa, the biggest affiliate of the labour federation.

Explaining Numsa's decision not to take part, general secretary Irvin Jim said yesterday that the union did not believe that it was a useful exercise to wait for 12 months until President Jacob Zuma had signed the e-toll bill into law before engaging in mass action to oppose it.

Also, Numsa had just come out of a long strike in the automotive industry.

"But those members who went to the marches vented their anger at Cosatu's failure to convene a special national congress of the federation."

Cosatu president S'dumo Dlamini was booed as he spoke at one of the rallies.

Although Dlamini has acceded to the holding of the special congress of Cosatu, it remains to be seen how keen the labour federation's national office bearers will be in organising it.

For them it would be like a turkey voting for Christmas, because on the agenda would be their election or ousting.

The issue of funding of the special national congress has already emerged as a stumbling block.

Zingiswa Losi, the second deputy president of Cosatu, said: "The funding of the special congress has to be resolved. Cosatu has not budgeted for it and has only budgeted for the congress of September 2014."

She said Cosatu must talk about how to get the money.

Advertising

There is nothing quite like perusing a set of SABMiller results to put things into perspective. Currency depreciation, national strikes, social unrest, sluggish to zero economic growth - these it seems are not peculiar to the South African environment. They are aspects of business life that are to be found across the globe.

Even the threat of banning alcohol advertising is not unique to South Africa. It is a threat that has been implemented in several other jurisdictions and, according to the alcohol industry, has generally been ineffective. But of course the alcohol industry would say that, and of course the print media industry, which carries some of this advertising, would repeat it.

There is still no sign of the bill from the Department of Health dealing with the issue, but the industry has moved into full battle mode, so it will be a tough one for the health minister to win.

SA Breweries' Norman Adami certainly isn't taking the issue lightly. He acknowledges that although only a small minority of drinkers abuse alcohol, it has an impact on society at large.

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