SA braces for another year of strikes

By Drum Digital
19 January 2014

Struggling South Africa seems set for another year of labour unrest in another body blow for an economy battling high unemployment.

Struggling South Africa seems set for another year of labour unrest in another body blow for an economy battling high unemployment and struggling to remain the largest on the continent.

The last two years have been dark times for South African labour relations.

Pay strikes have rolled from sector to important sector -- mining, manufacturing, transport -- leaving a wake of red ink, protests and blood.

Unfortunately, the new year looks much like the last.

Next week the hardline Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union will move to strike at two of the world's top three platinum producers.

Their members are demanding a "living wage", which would imply a doubling of salaries.

After a series of increases well above the rate of inflation, the union has the bit between its teeth, and is ready to move to other sectors.

"We look forward to the wage disputes within the platinum, gold and coal sectors," said AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa.

Robert Besseling, of IHS Country Risk believes that platinum strikes will lead to rapid "contagion to other sectors, such as gold and coal."

"Strikes beget strikes," said labour analyst Andrew Levy. "If striking delivers results, it is expected to spread. That's the situation we find in the past three years."  - Sapa-AFP

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