Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has called for unity at the trade union federation's Western Cape office in Cape Town on Tuesday, the Star reported ?on Wednesday.
"Unity is the only way. There is no second way. And let us not be dishonest … " the newspaper quoted him as saying. His words come as draft National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) central committee report shows two options for the metalworkers union "if there are moves to expel it [from the alliance with the Cosatu]: take the fight to stay within Cosatu to the courts, or consider breaking away", according to the Star.
Numsa is Cosatu's largest affiliate.
Last week, the Mail & Guardian reported that Numsa warned Vavi not to campaign for the ANC.
The strong warning came from Irvin Jim, his long-time ally and the Numsa general secretary.
It places Vavi in a dilemma, trapped between embracing the ruling party and being dropped by his supporters, who seem to be in no mood for reconciliation.
"It is wrong to say the resolution of the Numsa must bind Vavi. .. and Numsa is not [so] arrogant to tell me I must abandon Cosatu," he was quoted as saying on Tuesday. "It does not work like that."
'United behind a principled federation'
Addressing about 500 shop stewards in Cape Town, Vavi said, "Without the unity of workers, everything else becomes impossible. Without the numbers united behind a principled federation, all is lost."
Vavi returned to work at Cosatu House this month after eight months of being on suspension, following the high court in Johannesburg's ruling setting aside his suspension.
The federation is backing the ANC in the upcoming general elections. Numsa, which supported Vavi and called for his reinstatement, announced in December that it will not to endorse the ruling party. – Additional reporting by Sapa