Numsa leaders collude with VW bosses to lockout elected worker leaders!!


In June 1999 the Numsa leadership tried to remove 13 shopstewards at VW in Uitenhage. The workers en masse came out on strike and stopped the leadership in their tracks. Such was the support of the 13 that they remained shopstewards.

In the third week of January 2000, the Numsa leadership tried again, claiming that the 13 were making unreasonable demands on management and thereby ‘bringing the union into disrepute’! But this time the Numsa leadership were fully prepared. They used senior legal counsel and interdicted the shopstewards in the Labour Court. This is of course their new method of resolving disagreements within the unions. No union should ever allow the bourgeois courts to resolve internal union disputes. However NUMSA leadership saw it fit to do so. They knew that there would be a strike by the workers. Before the strike could gather the same momentum of the previous one , the VW management closed down the plant on Monday 24/1/2000.

We say this was a joint plan between the Numsa leadership and the VW management!

Why do we say so? NUMSA used exactly the same method as the bosses i.e going to the bourgeois courts as the bosses normally do. The union condemned the strike alongside the VW bosses. They were holding hands with the bosses! VW bosses decided to close the whole plant, by doing so workers were locked out illegally in terms of the Labour Relations Act of 1995. Why did Numsa not interdict the bosses from locking the workers out? It is very clear from the actions of the union that the bosses must have consulted them before locking the workers out. This explains the fact that NUMSA allowed them to do so without any opposition. The Numsa leadership needed a way to break the back of the strike and worked out a plan with management. The lockout would disperse the workers and allow divisions to build up [family pressure would build up due to lack of income and the threat of unemployment if the company relocates to another country]. Numsa leadership spent the week addressing pockets of workers, trying to intimidate them into succumbing and giving up their support for the 13. They were assisted by the VW management when they suspended the 340 initial group of strikers on Wed 26/1/2000. The basis for the suspension of the 340 was laid when the Numsa leadership distanced itself from the strike and went on the attack on these strikers. The suspension of the 340 would remove them from the factory premises and allow the Numsa officials full reign to intimidate strikers into returning to work. In fact the disciplinary hearing held on 31/1/2000 was precisely designed to create cracks within the 340 and in fact their close support base was told to come to work only by Tuesday 1/2/2000.

If the Numsa leadership - VW management alliance can break the back of the strike then the 13 shopstewards stand to be dismissed , even if it means that 340 would be dismissed along with them. The Numsa leadership are present in hearings to not to defend workers but to defend management! In fact any other worker who sides with the 13 or indeed in future disagrees with the Numsa leadership, faces victimisation by the Numsa leadership and the bosses! How else can the ANC government achieve inflation targeting if there are too many worker leaders demanding higher increases??

Bringing the union into disrepute?

We say that is precisely the Numsa leadership who are bringing the union into disrepute. How can a few bureaucrats sitting in an office decide for 4000 workers who their shopstewards should be? How can these same bureaucrats defend their undemocratic decisions with bourgeois Labour Court actions using expensive counsel and at the same time sit by quietly while the bosses illegally lockout 4000 of their members? How many years of struggle has it cost and how much workers blood has flowed in battles against the lockout, but now the Numsa leadership line up with the bosses for the imminent dismissal of its own members? It is this leadership that needs to be thrown onto the dustheap of history! We make this urgent call to all members of Numsa to kick out this rotten leadership and defend the 13 democratically elected shopstewards. It is very clear that the workers cannot rely on the NUMSA bureaucracy to defend themselves, independent workers committees must be formed to defend the workers against the attack of the union leadership and the bosses. We call on all Cosatu workers and indeed all sections of the working class to defend the strikers at VW.

Today it is the 13 at VW, tomorrow it will be all militant workers!
Numsa workers, take control of your union! Down with undemocratic leadership!
Cosatu workers, break the alliance with the capitalist ANC and SACP!
No holding hands with the bosses!

Fax your protest to Cosatu H/O [27] 11 3395080 or [27] 11 3396940 and the VW plant in Uitenhage: [27] 419945437

issued by Workers International Vanguard League 1st Floor, Community House, 41 Salt River rd, Salt River, 7925, South Africa. Ph/fax [27] 21 4476777; e-mail:

Mon, 31 Jan 2000


LabourNet Germany:
Der virtuelle Treffpunkt der Gewerkschafts- und Betriebslinken
The virtual meeting place of the left in the unions and in the workplace