Numsa’s expulsion to cost Cosatu R1-million a month

Cosatu will lose more than R1-million a month in affiliation fees after its central executive committee decided to expel Numsa.

“The only thing we did – in order to be a member in good standing in Cosatu – was to pay an affiliation fee,” National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo said on Tuesday. Numsa’s estimate of R1 022 000 a month was based on a R2.92 affiliation fee from each of its estimated 350 000 members. 

This meant Cosatu could lose R12 264 000 a year without Numsa. Numsa also paid R38 000 towards the shop steward magazine, Maqungo said.

Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) spokesman Patrick Craven said the issue of finances was “a matter that Cosatu is still looking at”.

When asked on the potential loss in membership fees to Cosatu if the other pro-Numsa unions were no longer in Cosatu as well, labour analyst Terry Bell said only Denosa, CWU and Saccawu had substantial memberships.

“But if their contributions are added together, it would probably amount to no less than about R3-million a month.”

In terms of investments, the metalworkers union has its own Numsa Investment Company, while Cosatu has Kopano Ke Matla investment arm. Maqungo said Numsa has only invested through its company. “We have got our own investments as Numsa. There are no investments through them [Cosatu].”

Ntshalintshali said on Tuesday that the Cosatu constitution was “quite clear” about claims by members on the trade union federation’s investments. “The constitution is quite clear, its says because it is a collective it [the investment] belongs to the federation,” he said. 

“Equally it answers the question over what happens when you wind-up a federation, what happens to its assets, do you distribute among members… can anyone have a claim? 

“It [the constitution] says no. The federation as a whole has to decide over where to donate whatever you may have in terms of the assets… it is a constitutional requirement – it is not a question about getting dividends.” Bell said the investment area was “terribly opaque”. 

“But because these companies are, basically, at arm’s length from the federation/unions involved and are subject to rules governing investment companies, shareholders (be they unions or individuals) cannot really be disadvantaged for political reasons,” he said. – Sapa

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