THE National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) came out fighting on Monday in the wake of its possible expulsion from Cosatu, vowing to do everything possible to remain within the fold, including resorting to legal action.

It has called on all Cosatu-aligned unions to ask federation bosses to convene an elective conference, and hinted at possible legal action to force them to do so.

It is also set to head to the courts to fight its possible expulsion, leaders intimated on Monday.

Despite its fight to remain part of the ANC-aligned Cosatu, the country’s largest union admits there are "irreconcilable differences" among the top brass in the federation.

Numsa is fighting to remain within the federation due to its considerable political and organisational muscle but has alienated most of its sister affiliates. The long-simmering ideological battle in Cosatu reached boiling point last week, but Numsa was thrown a two-week life line to explain why it should not be expelled from Cosatu.

Decisions taken by the union at a special national congress last year have placed it on a collision course with the majority of Cosatu’s top brass. It decided in December that Cosatu should split from the alliance, that it would not provide financial and other support for the ANC’s election campaign, and that it would act as a catalyst for the formation of a Workers Party or Movement for Socialism.

On Monday, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim described the ANC’s attempt to mediate the Cosatu battle as a "farce" and warned that the ANC-brokered cessation of hostilities in the federation was "over".

Jim said the union was targeted due to its "socialist revolutionary character", because the ANC was now led by a "filthy rich black and African tiny middle class" — politically represented by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who led the ANC’s task team that intervened in the Cosatu battle.

The ANC intervened in the Cosatu battle on the eve of the May 7 polls and the ugly factional battle was largely swept under the carpet. Since then, all parties agreed to halt "hostilities" until the party concluded its work.

"(The) special national congress is the only constitutional structure of Cosatu capable of taking the federation out of its paralysing crisis," Jim said.

He argued that the leaders in Cosatu who were opposed to Numsa had violated the federation’s constitution and had been "captured" by the "capitalist" ANC and South African Communist Party.

"There is an irreconcilable rupture among leaders of Cosatu. In our view this rupture in Cosatu is between forces of capitalism and forces of socialism,” Jim said.

It is understood that the union is exploring options, including legal action, ahead of the November 7 meeting when it is again expected to face the chop from the federation.

The union has made it clear that it will not backtrack from the decisions it took in December last year, especially its call for Cosatu to split from the alliance.

Jim said the union was targeted due to its "socialist revolutionary character", because the ANC was now led by a "filthy rich black and African tiny middle class" — politically represented by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who led the ANC’s task team that intervened in the Cosatu battle.

Cosatu-affiliated unions opposed to Numsa have latched onto its decision to organise workers across sectors to rid the federation of the union. They argue that this violates Cosatu’s founding principal of "one union, one sector".

Numsa’s opponents have also accused it of "poaching" or stealing members from other Cosatu-aligned workers.

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