Unions in the fight of their lives, but may be their own worst enemy

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Covid-19 is expected to drive up already stubbornly high unemployment, shrinking the recruitment pool for unions.
Covid-19 is expected to drive up already stubbornly high unemployment, shrinking the recruitment pool for unions.
Moeketsi Mamane

In one of Shakespeare's most famous tragic plays, Macbeth, the titular king and protagonist, laments at his lowest point, that life and its struggles are "full of sound and fury/signifying nothing".

The passage, widely cited for its expression of despair, may ring true to the state of organised labour in South Africa in recent years, and more so during the national lockdown declared by government to curb the spread of the most devastating pandemic the world has seen in a century. While unions continue to take up several labour relations issues on behalf of workers, wins have been few and far between.

These issues include the national minimum wage, salary increases and operational decisions that unions say seek to erode the rights of workers.

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