Unionism needs a new approach

2017-08-16 06:03

Tshegofatso Leeuw, Bloemfontein:

Remodelling the working class – unions, you have been checkmated. It is not only the political space evolving, but also the role of unions – what a working class is in this day and age.

As the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has been bickering about the tripartite alliance for the past decade, they will realise they have been checkmated.

Checkmated in the sense that potential job creators have written their own rules: employing foreigners for cheap labour, using a word-of-mouth contract, utilising accounting software (thus not employing bookkeepers), not following proper health and safety assessments, finding adult and youth unemployment as involving too much red tape and foreign investment declining.

Sure, unions are always bound to be charmed by politics and politics will make its way into unionists’ hearts, hence the Solidarity Union and Public Servants Association (PSA) are not politically affiliated.

However, at the end of the day, politics and politicians affect their programmes and policies.

Some in unions will aspire to positions in the upper echelons of political party administration. The National Union of Mineworkers (Num) formerly supplied the ruling party, the ANC, with three secretary generals and the DA has some members who are former unionists.

The working class of 2010 and beyond era has dynamic personalities. Some are frustrated with the economic policies and some are aspiring industrialists who constantly face red tape.

Some want to remain non-partisan.

A unionist of yesteryear must know which laws have to be amended to work in favour of job creators and their employees, who would be likely join the union. Such a unionist has to groom by collaborating on ideas with a modern-era aspiring unionist.

Coming to mind is a combination of traditional unionism, aspirations and modern-era interpretations of unionism.

Adapt or fade.


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