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SA’s biggest trade union, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), is facing a serious internal revolt and its finances are in disarray.

The union’s unaudited financial statements, seen by Business Day, show that the union has been operating on a deficit budget for the past two years, forcing it to dip into its strike fund to pay salaries. The strike fund is a strategic reserve meant to provide workers with alternative income during prolonged strikes. Numsa also owes the South African Revenue Service R20m in penalties dating back to 2011. Union members allege that a R500m reserve fund established by the previous leadership has been raided.In his secretariat report to the Numsa central committee meeting in Johannesburg this week, general secretary Irvin Jim said the union may have to retrench some staff. Its head office and regional offices would also have to be restructured. However, a more pressing challenge, which has rendered the union unstable, is the conflict that has engulfed it. Senior members of the union and former leaders, who spoke to Business Day on condition of anonymity, have accused Jim of ruling the u...

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