Suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi might have landed in trouble when he addressed striking National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) members on Monday.
After Numsa's application to have Vavi's suspension overturned was postponed on Tuesday, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said Vavi's address to striking workers was a breach of the conditions of his suspension from the federation.
"There are conditions of the suspension. You can't address workers. That's going to be in breach of the condition of your suspension," he said.
"We said he was not to perform his duties as the general secretary of Cosatu."
Numsa last week took Cosatu to court to have Vavi's suspension lifted, and the matter was postponed in the South Gauteng High Court to allow an application by opposing unions to intervene in the matter.
The intervening unions are the National Union of Mineworkers, the South African Democratic Teachers' Union, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, the South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union, the Finance Union, and the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers' Union.
Numsa is expected to file an opposing affidavit by October 2. But Numsa's general secretary Irvin Jim, when addressing some Vavi supporters outside the court after the proceedings, said the union decided not to oppose the application by other affiliates.
"We took a conscious decision not to oppose the application. We are on course, we will meet them in court. The struggle continues."
Sitting on Cosatu's side in court was Dlamini, federation deputy president Zingiswa Losi, acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali and South African Democratic Teachers' Union general secretary Mugwena Maluleke.
Numsa had the support of Jim, deputy general secretary Karl Cloete, and Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) deputy general secretary Moleko Phakedi.
Dlamini said it was "sad and unfortunate" that the matter ended up in court.
"The other unions that have made an application to oppose Numsa's case will argue that they were part of the decision and they stand by that," said Dlamini.
"It does not matter who is in the minority or the majority. What counts is the unity of the federation … It is about finding solutions," he said of the divisions in Cosatu.
When asked if reinstating Vavi was part of the solution, he said: "It is not in my power to declare how the matter is resolved."
Dlamini said Vavi was not charged as yet because the the matter was still under investigation.
Vavi was suspended last month for bringing Cosatu into disrepute after he admitted to having an affair with an employee.
In court papers, Numsa called Vavi's suspension "unconstitutional and unprecedented".
Fawu and the South African Football Players' Union are listed as co-applicants in Numsa's court action.
There was no sign of Vavi on Tuesday morning at court. – Additional reporting by Sapa