Strike Nation: Marcus weighs in

2012-10-06 21:04

Reserve Bank governor repeats her concerns as more workers are set to join protests in solidarity.

SA Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus has twice this week raised the red flag at high-level meetings about ongoing strikes and their ­effect on the economy.

Cosatu’s S’dumo Dlamini and other union leaders met Marcus on two separate occasions this week and although the meetings weren’t specifically about the strikes, they were high on the agenda.

Dlamini said they first met on Tuesday at a Millennium Labour Council meeting, where Marcus gave a report on the state of the economy.
She repeated her concerns on Friday morning in a meeting attended by President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, labour representatives and Business Unity SA, City Press has learnt.

Dennis George, the general ­secretary of the Federation of ­Unions of SA, said Marcus briefed the council about the negative ­impact of the strikes, the state of European and American economies, and the impact these have on the local economy.

“The quicker we can get out of this situation, the better,” George said.

Work on the country’s roads, freight rail system and ports will grind to a halt this week as more SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) members join the truckers’ strike.

Satawu spokesperson Vincent Masoga said the union’s members in the maritime, freight rail, national ports and motor-ferry sectors would down tools next week in solidarity with their striking road freight and cash-in-transit colleagues.

Satawu has 165 200 members nationwide.

The strike is entering its third week and comes at the same time as several wildcat strikes continue to bedevil the mining sector.

Dlamini told City Press the country’s economy was facing a crisis. “If (the economy) collapses, we will have no jobs.

“If this goes on there shall be total collapse of the economy and no one shall be a winner,” he said.

But Satawu’s Masoga said there was no end in sight: “The wage negotiations have deadlocked, there are no negotiations as we speak.”

He said Satawu would welcome mediation by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) or the labour department.

Satawu and other unions in the sector are demanding a 12% across-the-board increase for 2013 and 2014.

Magretia Brown-Engelbrecht, the labour relations executive officer of the Road Freight ­Employers’ Association, said workers were offered a ­double-digit increase in the first year (10%) followed by 8% in the second year and an additional 9% in the third.

She said estimates showed that employees are losing about R270 million a week in wages and about R1.2 billion is lost every week by the industry during the strike.

“The association has not received any official notice of any secondary strike in terms of the Labour Relations Act,” said Brown-Engelbrecht.
She warned a secondary strike would be illegal and unprotected.

The CCMA’s director, Nerine Kahn, said the body had offered to intervene in many of the strikes playing out across the country at the moment.

Kahn said mediation was still under way at the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight Industry.

Tanya Venter, the CEO of private dispute settlement company Tokiso, said her organisation had been involved in about a dozen strike or potential strike interventions over the past two weeks.

“Parties are choosing senior panellists due to the complexity of these disputes in the current context of Marikana.

“Interventions are not limited to the mining industry. We are seeing the effects of Marikana nationally,” Venter said.

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