Numsa angry as Satawu backs Transnet over PE terminal strike

NUMSA'S national treasurer, Mphumzi Maqungo, yesterday laid into fellow Cosatu-affiliated union Satawu, saying instead of joining the metalworkers in calling for the total banning of labour brokers at the Port of Ngqura, it was conniving with management in opposing the strike in Port Elizabeth.

This comes after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Monday rejected attempts by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) to extend its strike to the Ngqura terminal.

In the application, Transnet was joined by the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) and another transport union, Utatu Sarhwu.

Addressing about 160 Numsa members outside the Port of Ngqura gate entrance yesterday, Maqungo said it was shocking that a Cosatu-affiliated union would side with employers.

"All unions that are here are conniving with management. It is so painful and we don't understand why unions will join management and oppose us.

"On Monday we are meeting in the Cosatu central executive and we shall expose them in the federation. All 19 affiliated unions [decided in] 2009 [that] we must abolish labour brokers.

"All unions must explain to us why they would [spend] their own members' [money] to oppose Numsa when we are fighting for the banning of labour brokers," Maqungo said.

But Satawu provincial secretary Honest Sinama said the union had joined Transnet in the CCMA application because it had seen what Numsa [allegedly] did when striking.

"He is ill-informed or maybe he is sick. It is the very Numsa flouting or defying Cosatu's resolution that says one industry, one union. His accusations are unfounded. Our resolution still stands. We want total banning of labour brokers and we are respecting the principle of one union, one industry.

"As the two organised unions there, we joined Transnet because [Numsa] must not be allowed to picket at the Port Elizabeth terminal because of their behaviour and the way they conduct themselves when they are on strike.

"They have threatened our members in Uitenhage and are politicising issues because they are treating themselves as a political party," Sinama said.

Numsa-affiliated workers at the Port of Ngqura downed tools last month demanding the banning of labour brokers, permanent employment, equal subsidisation of taxi fares, and reducing working hours from five to three with an hour's break.

Yesterday, Maqungo said they were giving the employer 48 hours to respond to their demands.

"This strike is a lockout strike. Therefore your employer is not expected to bring scab labour here. [On Tuesday night] we met as national metalworkers and we agreed that we shall take them to court on that particular one. We want to warn those workers from the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal that there's a slogan in this organisation: 'An injury to one is an injury to all'."

Transnet port terminals Eastern Cape operations general manager Siyabulela Mhlaluka said using staff from other ports was part of a contingency plan.

"We will continue to use Transnet resources wherever they are. We have just received the memorandum. We will escalate it to the group chief executive [Brian Molefe] and, once it has been studied, an appropriate response will be forwarded to Numsa.

"We think the strike is unnecessary and the issues raised by workers under the banner of Numsa are issues being dealt with by Transnet.

"However, we respect the employees' right to strike.

"We trust the employees will call off the strike and come back to work." - Mkhululi Ndamase