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Cabinet: Strikes tarnish SA's image

Oct 11 2012 10:43

Cape Town - Illegal and violent strikes are not helping South Africa's image internationally, acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams said on Thursday.

In a media briefing in Cape Town following the executive's Wednesday meeting, she said cabinet was concerned at the lawlessness, violence, and intimidation that continued to pollute the otherwise democratic right of workers to strike.

"It is a fact that as a democracy, the right to strike is a defined right in South Africa that obligates the strikers to observe that they cannot encroach on other people's rights as they enjoy theirs."

No one should be intimidated to take or not to take industrial action in a democracy.

No one should resort to any forms of violence against people or property as a form of striking or protest.

"Our struggle for freedom and democracy ensured that our laws provide a space for protected peaceful strikes, which obviates the need for illegal strikes accompanied by violence and intimidation," she said.

Cabinet thus reiterated its call for workers to use existing channels with unions to address grievances and wage negotiations in a manner that was in touch with the country's laws and collective bargaining practices.

"It is, among others, these illegal strikes and the accompanying violence that is not helping the country's image internationally, and is contributing to the already existing challenges facing our economy and society," Williams said.

She also said cabinet was concerned at the "uncomfortable" international macro-economic outlook.

"...South Africa is not left unaffected, due to global factors but also domestic ones, as a result of which rating agencies altered our standing from stable to negative," she said.

Cabinet intended taking the necessary measures to lift the growth potential and competitiveness of the South African economy.

This was intended to address the domestic contributory factors and to ensure that the impact of the downgrade was contained and did not encroach on already constrained resources for key service delivery programmes, she said.

"It should be noted that as a country, we take seriously the role of (rating) agencies and that, as always, we view them as necessary partners to do assessments... and reflect on the areas we should pay attention to as an international actor on matters of economy," Williams said.

During the meeting, the executive had also approved the 2012/13 budget adjustments, the fiscal framework, and the division of revenue for the 2013 medium-term expenditure framework to be published in the 2012 medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) later this month.

"Cabinet further noted with concern the impact of the global economic downturn, and recent disruptions in the domestic economy due to industrial action, and their combined impact on the performance of the South African economy."

The National Treasury would hold a fuller media briefing after the MTBPS presentation in Parliament, she said.

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