PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Mpumelelo Ncube
 
Comments: 0
Article views: 420
 
 
 

The fight of labour unions for relevance

08 February 2019, 13:58

The existence of labour unions has always been based on the need for collective bargaining to secure improved wages, enhanced working conditions and better political status for workers. Their successes premised on these terms of reference are well documented dating back from the eighteenth century to date. It can however be argued that the vast changes in the organisation of labour over time have advanced significant challenges on labour unions to remain a force that they were once reckoned with in the previous century.

In recent times, the labour market has leaned more towards casualization of workers and the surge in labour brokers, which in essence disables workers to unionise. In addition, the existence of the unions is further threatened by the shrinking economy which appears to be a global phenomena. The dwindling economies have gradually triggered the adoption of austerity measures by not only governments but companies in both the private and public sectors. In turn, many companies have opted to lay off workers in large numbers, significantly reducing the labour force. Since the strength of a unions lies with the quantity of its members, a reduced labour force has a considerable impact on the bargaining power and lowered political status of labour unions. Furthermore, the implications of a reduced labour force beg the questions on not only the relevance but also the existence of labour unions given the reduced revenue through membership fees.

In the worst-case scenario where the economy continues to shrink or stagnates, its capacity to absorb jobseekers would remain compromised. Consequently, the capacity of unions to expand their membership would also remain curtailed. As if these challenges are not enough for the labour movements, the world is on the brink of a defining era through the fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Expects have indicated that this would be an epoch of disruptive technologies in many spheres of human life including the organisation of labour markets. It is grounded in the introduction of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual Reality (VR). While the rest of us are trying to understand the magnitude of the disruptions that will be ushered by this revolution, what is apparent is that human labour force is bound to be largely substituted by automated machines with the ability to understand, process and adapt to workplace demands.

It cannot be denied that the implications of the fourth industrial revolution on the workforce are huge and frightening. As a result, there appears to be some resistance from some labour movements for governments to immediately embrace the technological advances as they entail a lot of mechanisation. The situation presents contradictions especially for governments where comprising workers whose lives it is meant to advance and who happen to be voters cannot be an option yet technological advancements that bring about disruptions in the labour market cannot be ignored either. Nevertheless, whatever the extent of contradictions, the 4IR cannot be deferred.

Furthermore, any delay in adapting to the shift by any government would be detrimental to the future growth of the economy and human development. As such, for the labour movements, the changes require investment on the reimagined future of the workplace in relation to the workforce. Instead of resisting the inevitable, labour movements need to comprehend and be responsive to the implications of the fourth industrial revolution for their sustained existence and relevance.

Reimagining the future of any workplace also has implications for the education system that should factor in the demands of the 4IR without compromising the agenda on decolonisation of education. This entails incorporation of some of the latest technologies in teaching, learning and training as a way to align the future workforce with the detects of the changing times. In anticipation of the challenges of the 4IR, labour movements should advocate for upskilling of the current workforce not only to be employees but to be innovators and employers as well. In this way, the labour movements would be aligning to the demands of the 4IR and actively participating in the expansion of the economy which in turn would ascertain their continued existence and relevance.

Mpumelelo Ncube is a lecturer at the University of Johannesburg.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Submitted by
Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
Ramaphosa doomsayers' criticism p...

It may be naive to seek to predict what the outcome of a nation's leader would turn out to be. South Africa's sixth administration is still coming out of the starting blocks. Read more...

0 comments 1048 views
Submitted by
An exodus of talent caused by cor...

When the country sees the very top of the pile getting away with blatant corruption it is little wonder why crime flourishes. Read more...

0 comments 2488 views
Submitted by
Patient abuse: Sharing content mu...

It is extremely easy, taking a mere split-second to share a video, but pre-sharing it, it is the duty and responsibility of the sharer to ethically deem whether the to-be shared content is an infringement on the basic privacy rights of the subject within the video.  Read more...

0 comments 624 views
Submitted by
Russel Bason
Craft policies based on current c...

By crafting policies based on people's current financial situation we are able to assist all poor people, most of whom will be black, without excluding anyone and creating more injustice. Read more...

0 comments 250 views
Submitted by
Matome Herman Seanego
Premier Stan Mathabatha leads the...

As the head of ANC which led Limpopo Province with more than 70% of votes, Stan Mathabatha leads the most dysfunctional province in Africa. Read more...

0 comments 1512 views
 

services

Press Code We subscribe to the Press Code.

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

Terms and Conditions 24.com Terms and Conditions - Updated April 2012

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2019 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.