NUMSA Western Cape in new fight with national leadership

Office bearers say regional secretary has not been allowed to return to work

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Delegates at the NUMSA national conference a year ago. The Western Cape delegation left the conference in protest against the exclusion of delegates from Mpumalanga. Now Western Cape office bearers are in a new fight with national leadership. Archive photo: Vincent Lali

  • Western Cape NUMSA regional secretary Vuyo Lufele is being kept out of his office by national leadership, Western Cape office bearers say.
  • Lufele was suspended last year after raising concerns about the running of 3SixtyLife, an insurance company owned by the union.
  • His suspension was overturned at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
  • But in a letter to NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim this week, Western Cape office bearers say national leadership is not complying with the CCMA ruling.

The Western Cape region of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) says national leadership is not allowing regional secretary Vuyo Lufele back into his office in spite of a ruling by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) lifting his suspension.

Lufele was one of more than 55 people suspended by general secretary Irvin Jim after they raised concerns over the running of 3Sixty Life, a funeral insurance company owned by the union.

Lufele challenged his suspension with the CCMA, which ruled on 26 June that he must be reinstated and report for duty on 3 July. CCMA Commissioner Jacques Buitendag found that the suspension was invalid and unfair.

In a 12 July letter to NUMSA’s general secretary Irvin Jim, Nama Mzimasi, on behalf of NUMSA Western Cape office bearers, said that NUMSA was not complying with the CCMA ruling. Mzimasi said the absence of Lufele was “creating a lot of suffering to us as workers in the Western Cape and we would like your office to allow him back to his office”.

Mzimasi said a letter from Jim to Western Cape office bearers, dated 2 July, to the Western Cape Office Bearers instructed them not to cooperate with Lufele’s return to office. But Mzimasi says the region would “never abandon” Lefele, “because we were among those who gave him a mandate to speak on behalf of this region.”

Mzimasi says that Jim has “decided to take powers away” from the Western Cape leadership “by placing this region under administration unconstitutionally”. In the letter he says the administrator has been “failing the region in terms of compliance” and a task team has been set up by Jim blocking the regional office bearers from exercising their powers.

Delegates from the Western Cape region stormed out of NUMSA’s national congress in July last year, complaining that the union had not complied with its own constitution by excluding delegates from Mpumalanga, NUMSA’s largest region.

Judge Graham Moshoana in the Johannesburg Labour Court had ruled a few days earlier that decisions of the union’s central committee to suspend several members, including the union’s second deputy president Ruth Ntlokotse, and to place the Mpumalanga Regional Council under “administration” were “unconstitutional, invalid and unenforceable in law”.

Ntlokotse was expelled from the union earlier this week. In a press conference on Thursday she said she had been ousted by the beneficiaries of corruption within the union leadership.

Asked for comment, NUMSA spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said from 9 to 13 December NUMSA had held an extended Central Committee meeting where regions and local branches were represented “and it resolved to place the Western Cape Region under administration”. This had been done in the presence of the Western Cape office bearers.

“As things stand Western Cape is being led by a task team following the decision of that Central Committee meeting. It is false for anyone to claim that this decision was taken solely by the NUMSA General Secretary comrade Irvin Jim when it was a decision of the entire Central Committee. Furthermore, NUMSA will not engage in public debates on internal matters, with the media”.

Update on 2023-07-14 15:26

This article has been updated to included comment from NUMSA spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.

TOPICS:  Labour unions NUMSA and 3Sixty

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