The decision to establish Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa (LIMUSA) came after a long period of internal resistance and struggle against the reactionary direction taken by NUMSA leadership which opportunistically imposed its will over that union through various form of despotic manipulation. While calling for dialogue and democracy elsewhere that leadership ruthlessly stamped on dissent within its ranks.
Officials, shop-stewards and members who were stalwarts of working class struggle and internal democracy in the union were isolated, stifled, and in many cases faced trumped-up charges, suspensions and expulsions. At the same time, individuals who were not the members, leaders or officials who were baseless organisationally gained control over the general direction of what NUMSA leaders said. Meanwhile, focus in NUMSA had increasingly been towards setting up of a new political party using the resources of the workers and less on their working conditions.
Democratic participation of members from below was overwhelmed and even replaced by this consultancy to which a lot of money was being paid. Many structures and members at garages, repair and engineering shops, auto manufacturing and the motor industry and elsewhere on the shop floor were never consulted and did not participate in developing the direction that was promoted in their name.
In 2013 we highlighted the manipulation of democratic process before the NUMSA Special National Congress. Comrade Cedric Gina’s resignation as President exposed the fact that NUMSA was no longer worker-controlled. After December 2013 Special Congress it was clear to us that our union had been driven to take a wrong turn.
Despite this we further undertook to engage internally. In May 2014 we held a national meeting in Ekurhuleni attended by five regions. In that meeting we decided to write a letter to the sitting General Secretary of NUMSA highlighting several political and organisational irregularities.
These interventions were met with propaganda, lies, suspensions and expulsions. Until to date we never received a response to several letters we wrote to NUMSA.
In July 2014 we found ourselves left with no other option than to build a new home for metalworkers. We appealed to the expertise of various comrades to lead the process of building this new home.
With the support we have from many workers who joined the programme we submitted an application to the Department of Labour to register our union under the name Metal and Aliened Workers Union of South Africa (MAWUSA). The Department rejected the name, citing two reasons. One was the name could be confused with that of another existing union. The second was that exact name MAWUSA was already in use.
Determined to forge ahead, we changed our name to Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa (LIMUSA), which was officially registered as a trade union on 28 November 2014 by the department of Labour. On the 30-31 March 2015 Limusa was duly accepted as an affliate of Cosatu.