Editor's noteOpinion

Labour unrest a costly affair

IT APPEARS to be perfectly normal in South Africa that at some point during the year, rolling strike actions will happen.

What is worse is that the so-called strike season has become synonymous with being South African, more so that those involved see nothing wrong with it.

This week, Chamber of Mines negotiators are involved in urgent discussions to avert a potentially crippling wage strike on the gold mines by as many as 120 000 workers.

A strike in the car manufacturing sector has now entered its second week. News reports revealed thousands of construction and aviation workers would down tools.

Employers in the clothing and textile industry were also due to meet with union representatives to try to prevent a major strike. South African Airways announced it had put contingency measures in place to avoid service disruptions after technical staff members affiliated to the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union threatened to down tools on 26 August.

Granted, economic imbalances remain one of the biggest challenges facing workers, employers and government.

And of course, trade unions resort to strikes as a last measure in their disputes against employers.

But billions of rand are being lost each year as a result of the strikes. Lives have also being lost during strikes.

There has to be some understanding between trade unions and employers. Workers do not have to strike before employers realise the seriousness of the situation and return to the negotiating table.

In addition, government cannot turn a blind eye and dismiss strikes as a ‘family’ matter between employers and their workers.

The impact of strikes hits the economy as a whole and not just the union, its members, employers and the sector involved.

The very same economy that these parties strive to improve cannot be allowed to suffer. After all, it is not just employers, workers or government that will feel the pain, but the entire nation.

Parties involved should realise that the consequences of a strike could just outweigh the causes.

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