Given all the usual rumblings of strikes putting their jobs at risk that we have with the current automotive sector strike (and impending petrol attendant strike), let's get some new information in: WHY do unions strike?
Please, I do NOT want this to turn into the usual anti-ANC; anti-Lazy People; quasi-racist rhetoric as replies. There's enough of that circulating already. Rather, let's take a step back and question some of our assumptions.
Unions exist to supposedly protect workers' interests, and gather substantial membership fees from their members. Clearly they're in a position where they feel they have to produce something, and for most workers this is going to be the annual wage negotiations - fine.
Some questions I haven't seen answered or even asked:1: Why do unions (and workers) think that increases of over 10% are sustainable, every single year?2: Why do unions appear to follow the same recipe of 'Ask for something unreasonable, then strike immediately, then stay on strike for just long enough to draw some concessions from the employers in an effort to save face'?
On the first topic, here's something interesting: has anybody pointed out to unions that if a 10% increase is applied to a basic salary of R6 000 every single year for 20 years, that same person will be paid R37 000 a month?
To drive that point home a little more, if a worker receives a flat R6 000 per month for 20 years, he will have been paid R1 440 000 over the period. With the annual 10% hike each year above, he'll have been paid R4 123 800 (i.e. almost three times as much).
It makes some interesting reading, especially if you think that we're talking about the wages of essentially entry-level workers. The impact on the economy is pretty staggering.
So why are the unions doing this, and why are they being supported by the workers? It it some throwback to tribal African culture, where people would take their concerns to their chiefs annually for resolution, or is it just that people don't care about the consequences of their actions as long as their employers continue driving expensive cars, work in flashy air-conditioned offices and clearly enjoy a far more prosperous life than they do?
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