Worker demands seem more persistent

Cape Town - Nobody should be surprised that there is a major strike underway this week, says Terry Bell in his latest Labour Wrap.  He points out that this time of the year is - like it or not - regarded as our “strike season”, when those wage negotiations that have deadlocked end up with confrontation.

However, most pay talks have been quietly resolved, as they are every year.  But there does seem to be a difference this year in that workers seem more confident and determined to win their demands.  A good example is the powerful Gauteng region of the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) that has refused to budge off a 15% pay rise demand despite other regions and the union leadership being prepared to lower this to 12%.

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Numsa has also renewed - almost as a matter of principle - the demand that all labour brokers be banned.  This has echoed on the platinum belt as well, but, Bell says, it is a complex issue and the unions tend not to have defined exactly what is meant by a labour broker. 

He adds that calls for companies to be more socially responsible are perhaps naive in that company directors are “also trapped within the system” and have a fiduciary duty to maximise returns to shareholders.

* Let's debate: Can SA afford these protracted strikes? What is a living wage? Do you have questions for Terry or anything labour-related you'd like him to cover in his next labour wrap? Drop us an email.


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