R6.7bn in wages lost to strikes in 2013

2014-08-09 09:14

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SA needs to find a solution for its seemingly failing bargaining structure, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has said.

In a speech prepared for delivery at the launch of the 2013 Industrial Action Report yesterday, Oliphant highlighted the need for government, unions and business to play a more important role in the labour sector.

Stability in the labour force and fair labour practices would attract investors and inspire economic growth in the long run, she said.

The report was based on an analysis of strike action in the country in 2013.

According to the report, the North West and Gauteng were the most affected provinces with regard to wages lost due to strikes.

The number of strikes had increased to 114 in 2013 from 99 in 2012, she said.

Of the 114 strikes, only 42% were protected, compared to 54.4% in 2012.

“The resultant effect was that a total of R6.7bn in wages was lost due to the participation of workers in strikes as compared to R6.6bn in 2012.”

Although the number of strikes had increased, she said the number of working days lost had decreased by 44.2%.

She said SA had, on average, recorded the highest annual average of 292.6 working days lost per 1 000 workers during 2005 and 2009.

It was the highest internationally over the same period.

Wages were still the main reason for the strike action, she said.

“In other words, workers are still seeking more money to meet their socioeconomic needs.

“It is shown that the cost of living keeps going up because of multiple factors, from the domestic to the international market.”

She said the possibilities of increasing minimum wages to address poverty and inequality, as well as the expansion of provision for retirement savings for low-income workers, would be in focus in the future.

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