After years of high levels of industrial action and work days lost owing to strikes and protest action, 2013 kicks off on a similar note.
COSATU has brought a section 77 application aimed at addressing “the slow pace of socio-economic transformation in South Africa”.
The federation is threatening to embark on protest action to demand a radical transformation of the economy with the idea of benefitting the majority of South Africans.
Industrial relations in South Africa
The current state of industrial relations in South Africa is bleak indeed, with rising tensions and violence having significant economic impact and inevitably job losses.
Investor Services recently downgraded South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to BBB from BBB+ and placed the country on a stable credit outlook. This follows sovereign downgrades last year by Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s.
Among the reasons provided were the violent strikes and increased social tensions that had affected growth and the current account.
Added to this concern in terms of credit ratings is the high level of labour unrest in the country, which has kicked off with a bang in the agricultural sector.
This strike action is a clear illustration of the state of the labour environment. Unprocedural strikes can have severe ramifications for the industry and the economy of as a whole. These can include:
- Job losses
- Loss of production
- Potentially the closure of certain businesses.
This has often been something that appears to have been overlooked or even ignored by the striking workers. If there is no company anymore because of strikers’ actions – or if it suffers losses – there will either be no employment or large-scale retrenchments.
Reasons listed for COSATU’s planned protest action include:
- The unemployment crisis
- The poverty crisis
- The income inequality crisis
- Labour market performance
- Ownership and control of the South African economy: inequality in economic power
- The land question
- Macroeconomic policy
- Access to quality education
- Access to quality healthcare.
The protest action
If there is no firm commitment in addressing its demands, COSATU indicates that it will have no option but to mobilise its members for a protest action which will take the form of marches, demonstrations, pickets and stay-aways.
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