COSATU Special Central Executive Committee Statement

CosatuThe Congress of South African Trade Unions held its Special Central Executive Committee Meeting on the 7th November 2014 at COSATU House, Braamfontein.

The meeting in terms of our Constitution was attended by National Office Bearers, COSATU Provincial Chairpersons and Secretaries and Representatives from All Affiliates

The Special CEC has a constitutional power and authority to take decisions and manage the affairs of the Federation in between the National Congress and the Central Committee as per the Constitution.

ANC Task Team Report and its conclusions

The Special CEC held on the 8th October received a report from the ANC in which the ANC had asked for an opportunity to intervene in the challenges confronting the Federation.

Accordingly this CEC took a decision to put its agenda Items in abeyance and to allow for the ANC task team’s intervention. This intervention was based on the following:

1. That the strategic objective is to preserve the integrity of the unity of workers under COSATU.

2. To postpone the Special CEC and to put in abeyance all the issues in the agenda

3. To embark on the process in which the ANC will help to facilitate the process towards achieving the strategic objective of preserving the unity of workers under COSATU. This process will take up to a month.

4. That there is a need for cessation of hostilities, which means all affiliates and all leaders of the federation and members should stop all activities which will militate against the achievement of this strategic objective of preserving the integrity of the unity of workers under COSATU.

The Special CEC held from the 21st – 23rd October 2014, on amongst others received the report from ANC Task team.

This report made specific conclusions and corresponding recommendations.

These can be summarised as follows:

Conclusion One: The TT has found that there is agreement on the importance of maintaining the unity of COSATU and the integrity of the organisation as a cohesive force in society, because workers in South Africa are strongest and best served when organized under a united COSATU. The principle of ‘one union one industry’ was accepted as the founding basis of COSATU. The NOB’s agreed that they need to show a united approach to addressing issues relating to the contravention of the constitution of COSATU.

Conclusion Two: The TT found widespread support and agreement that all COSATU resolutions adopted at the national congress must be implemented.

Conclusion Three: COSATU’s primary objective is, and must continue to be, to defend, protect and advance the interests of members.

Conclusion Four: The TT found that everyone in the Federation acknowledges that there have always been internal differences on questions of policy and strategy since its formation as would be expected from a large Federation that draws its membership across all industries, provinces and viewpoints. However, the NOB’s agree that the task of leadership is to manage the diversity of opinion, identify the areas of broad consensus as captured in resolutions of the Federation and manage the internal dynamics carefully. This requires the NOB’s to play a key role as unifiers of the Federation.

Conclusion Five: The autonomy of affiliates must be respected and it be acknowledged that this autonomy must be exercised within the broad policies of the Federation and its Constitution. It is further emphasized that the Federation’s constitution and principles are binding on all affiliates.

Conclusion Six: There is agreement that during this period of rebuilding unity, there must be a cessation of hostilities and that the Committee of ANC DSG and COSATU DGS will handle the current contraventions, perceived or real.

Conclusion Seven: There is agreement on the constitutional right of one third of affiliates to call for a special national congress. The TT notes that the NOBs recognise that the right for calling for a special national congress should be exercised with care, informed by clear intended outcomes and take into consideration all factors such as costs, logistics, etc.

The NOBs recognise that the current request for a special national congress is perceived differently by affiliates and have created divisions and that it may lead to a split in COSATU. It was therefore the view of the NOB’s that the COSATU Central Committee’s main function is to assess and evaluate the implementation of current policies and resolutions. It was further agreed that political issues such as the NDR, NDP and the functioning of the Alliance need urgent engagement.

It was the view of both the NOBs and ANC task team that the purpose a Special Congress should be to help the Federation to rebuild its unity and internal cohesion. The timing of the Congress, its precise agenda and purpose, will all be influenced by the outcome of the current internal process within COSATU and the engagement with the ANC Task team.

Conclusion Eight: There must be a process in place to deal with certain organizational and administrative matters; such as the pending disciplinary cases, the status of the second Deputy President, the Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo Report and others so as to bring these to closure

Conclusion Nine: The Federation’s staff must show impartiality in serving the office bearers and they should not become involved in activities that support one group in the Federation and the NOBs must take steps to ensure this impartiality.

Conclusion Ten: The CEC must unite around a fighting programme that encompasses the implementation of all the Federation’s Resolutions and Policies, including its core campaigns in defence of workers

Conclusion Eleven: There is acknowledgement that the political differences on matters such as the direction of the NDR, the NDP and the functioning of the Alliance must be addressed in the Federation and through Alliance processes that will draw in all the Allies to develop mechanisms to address them. These matters must now receive priority in the work of the Alliance.

The CEC had an extensive discussion on ANC Task Team report and agreed that the report could not be discussed outside the agenda items which had been put in abeyance by the 8th April 2014 Special CEC. The Special CEC further agreed that because of time constraints, a further Special CEC was to be convened on the 7thNovember 2014 to discuss the agenda items which had been put in abeyance.

These included the following:

1. NUMSA‘s response to COSATU on why it should not be suspended or expelled.

2. Status of the 2nd Deputy President

3. President’s report on the request of the Special National Congress

4. Facilitated Process

a. Report by Charles Nupen and Mashishi on the unity and cohesion of the Federation.

b. Forensic Report by the Sizwe Ntsabula Gobodo Firm of Auditors

5. Update Report on Litigation against COSATU

6. Update on the Disciplinary processes against the COSATU General Secretary and the Staff member

The new agenda item was to be the draft Secretariat report towards the Central Committee.

The South Gauteng High Court processes

As we were preparing towards the Special CEC on the 7th November 2014, the Federation received papers from the High Court, served on behalf of NUMSA.

Its primary intention was to interdict the sitting of the Special CEC to attend to NUMSA’s presentation.

NUMSA was expected to make a presentation on why it should not be suspended or expelled for taking the following resolutions in its Special National Congress:

1. The decision to call COSATU to break its alliance with the African National Congress (ANC)

2. The decision to organise a march to COSATU House to coincide with the 1st CEC in February 2014

3. The decision to hold back on paying affiliation fees to COSATU until the Special National Congress is held

4. The decision to cease to pay its contribution into the COSATU/SACP levy

5. The decision to extend its scope of operation into: glass production, sale and fitment; car valet and wash bay establishment; manufacture of jewellery, the refining of petrol, wholesale transportation, extraction and distribution of petrochemicals, mining and smelting of both base and precious metals; drivers that provide support to activities of NUMSA sectors; building and construction; auto industry textile, security, cleaning, canteen and health services that are covered by NUMSA scope; kiosks; industrial chemicals; alternative energy, information and communication technologies.

The Special CEC held on the 10th February 2014 had noted that the COSATU constitution as amended by the 9th Congress says that “Affiliates, including affiliates that are being orientated about the Federation, remain autonomous bodies governed by their own constitution but they must abide by this constitution and the policies of the Federation”.

In this context the report pointed out that the word autonomous referred to in section 2.3 of COSATU constitution means that COSATU affiliates are independent, self-governing and self-ruling.

Meaning that affiliates will be governed by their own constitution and policies.

However, the section provides that although affiliates are independent, they are required to abide by COSATU constitution and policies.

It is now common knowledge that the High Court ruled that Special CEC should proceed with its sitting and attends to all agenda items.

Decisions of the Special Central Executive Committee held on the 7th November 2014

The agenda of this Special CEC held on the 7th November 2014, included all the items which were put in abeyance by the Special CEC held in 8th April 2014, which was intended to allow for the intervention of the African National Congress Task Team.

These included the following;

1. NUMSA’s response on why it should not be suspended or expelled

2. The status of the second COSATU 2nd Deputy President

3. President’s report on the request for the Special National Congress

4. Updates on the disciplinary processes against the COSATU General Secretary and the staff members

5. Update report on the litigation against COSATU.

6. Report by the ANC Task Team

7. Signing off the draft Secretariat Report to the Central Committee

NUMSA was given an opportunity to present on the reasons why it should not be suspended or expelled.

Indeed, NUMSA made a presentation to the CEC and the CEC discussed the presentation and came to a conclusion that NUMSA be expelled.

NUMSA was also advised that in terms of the constitution they have a right to appeal to the National Congress.

Managing the process moving forward

The decision to expel NUMSA is a CEC decisions and is binding to all the structures of the Federation and its leaders. All expected to observe it without exception.

The Federation will be convening structural meetings at all levels to explain the decision of the Special CEC.

This as a practice and tradition of the Federation will also apply to affiliates.

More work needs to be done, to unite the Affiliates within the fold of the Federation.

We are calling on all our members across all sectors of the economy to remain focussed on building the unity of their own Unions, and their own COSATU.

We call on all Affiliates to focus their resources and energies in addressing the burning issues of workers at all workplaces.

This decision has not been taken lightly and all who engage with it are expected to do so in accordance with the expected conduct of a COSATU cadre which must show high levels of organisational discipline

One thing is certain; the Federation will emerge from the current challenges even stronger, without sacrificing an inch of our policies and principles.

Employers must continue to feel the hegemonic presence of our Unions, even as the Federation navigates solutions on the current challenges.

Unity of COSATU remains sacrosanct!

Statement issued by Ntai Norman Mampane, COSATU Communications Officer

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