Radical: Numsa leaders are planning to lead a stayaway on September 2 in support of the Freedom Charter. Inset: A copy of the Freedom Charter petition. Picture: IHSAAN HAFFEJEE
While Cosatu has not formally taken a stance regarding the push by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) for the wholesale implementation of the Freedom Charter, the metalworkers’ union appears determined to flex its muscles as the federation’s biggest affiliate.
It has declared it is going ahead with its national stay-away in September, which goes against the grain of ANC policies on economic matters such as the nationalisation of mines.
This “radical agenda” would push masses further into the trappings of poverty, an economist has warned.
Numsa announced it would embark on a national stay-away on September 2, to demand that the government implement the provisions of the Freedom Charter.
The resolution was taken at a recent meeting of Numsa’s national executive committee (NEC).
The stay-away was influenced by Cosatu’s “inability to advance programmes and campaigns that are geared towards improving the conditions of the workers and the poor of our country”, read the resolution.
Numsa is calling for the nationalisation of mines, the Reserve Bank, Sasol and steel maker Arcelor Mittal; the introduction of beneficiation and export tax on strategic minerals; a ban on labour brokers; import parity pricing; the implementation of the national minimum wage and for the “means of production” to be owned by the state.
The union, boasting a membership of 320000, also wanted state-owned enterprises Eskom and Telkom de-commercialised; the return of capital controls and the practice of inflation targeting to be abandoned, among other things.
Numsa national spokesperson Castro Ngobese said they were busy detailing the demands to be submitted at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).
He said a Numsa NEC meeting scheduled to take place from August 22 to 23, would come up with a date on when the demands should be submitted to Nedlac.
Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said: “We support the aims of action as proposed by Numsa, but we as Cosatu have not yet taken a decision on whether we will be taking a similar action.”
Investment Solutions chief economist, Chris Hart, said Numsa was pushing a “radical agenda” and warned that no economic activity could exist without investment.
He said the national stay-away would see Numsa “striking for poverty for all” instead of trying to uplift the economy to address the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
Hart said the economy needed to be de-concentrated to allow for smaller players to participate in it.
ANC policy chief Enoch Godongwana said they had covered a lot of ground in implementing the Freedom Charter.
“There may be areas that, given the current conditions, may not be practically possible to achieve at the moment.
“These include the state
control of the Reserve Bank which Numsa is calling for. This is not likely to be implemented.
“But we have covered quite a lot of ground on other issues such as free education and providing shelter to the masses, and are addressing the land question.”