Gwede Mantashe warns against ‘suicidal’ strikes

2014-07-29 16:59

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Strikes are death penalties for workers, says ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.

“I know the impact a long strike has on workers ... and I know what it can do to the operations and the economy,” he said today.

“I know that most of the time after long strikes operations end up reducing the workforce; you see that all the time. A strike means the death penalty for a number of workers,” said Mantashe, who used to be a National Union of Mineworkers shop steward.

He said a solution to lengthy strikes needed to be found.

“We should never tamper with the right to strike ... [However] we should be more innovative about how we allow a strike to go on.”

The country just came out of a five-month strike in the platinum belt in the North West and a four-week strike in the metals and engineering sector.

Mantashe was briefing the media after an ANC national working committee meeting held yesterday.

Earlier this month, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa reportedly said labour laws should be amended so that union members had to vote before striking.

Mantashe said a strike ballot was an important tool used by trade unionists.

“It gave you a sense of how far was your support ... and it mobilised workers in the workplace,” he said.

“When I was a shop steward ... I called a strike ballot for every strike because it tested them and mobilised them [workers].”

Mantashe said he did not know why unions today did not like the idea of a strike ballot.

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