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%.
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.