Johannesburg - Cosatu wants to review its strike processes to ensure
workers are happy with the outcomes, and that associated violence and
intimidation are reduced.
"It is worrying... that only half of the Cosatu members
surveyed in the 2012 Workers' Survey were satisfied with the outcome of
the strikes in their workplace," the Congress of SA Trade Unions
"Public sector Cosatu members were more satisfied than
their private sector counterparts," according to Cosatu's organisational
report prepared for discussion at its national congress.
The four-day congress in Midrand starts on Monday.
Cosatu's survey found that between 10 and 15 percent of
respondents reported that there had been violence or intimidation by
management or the police during strikes.
This was mostly in the form of threats to strikers, or the firing of rubber bullets or teargas.
"A similar number said there had been violence or intimidation by strike supporters, mostly threats to scabs," Cosatu said.
Although Cosatu did not have comprehensive data on
strikes, it said the period from August 2010 to March 2012 had not seen
the levels of violence experienced during the 2006 security workers'
strike, when over 50 people were killed.
This did not include the ongoing strike at the Lonmin
platinum mine in Marikana in the North West, in which 45 people have
been killed in strike-related incidents.
"There is, however, overall evidence that violence in strikes is increasing," Cosatu said.
The SA Special Risks Insurance Association 2011 annual
report found that strike-related claims had increased significantly
since 2006 and now accounted for over 70 percent of its claims.
Cosatu's survey found that half the respondents saw violence by workers "as necessary to achieve an acceptable result".
Cosatu was concerned that only 45 percent of
respondents said their union had met regularly with workers to get
mandates during negotiations. Ten percent said meetings were never held
to get mandates.
Cosatu has recommended a review of strike processes,
which would include tightening picket rules and a campaign to ensure
that employers and police complied with the law.
It wanted to campaign to change the law allowing employers to hire scab labour during strikes.
"Currently, in all strikes, the balance of power is
heavily tipped in favour of the bosses, by virtue of the fact that they
continue to have the unfettered right to draw from our vast army of
unemployed to replace strikers....
"So the first change required is that we need restrictions on the right of the bosses to employ scabs."
Cosatu also wanted a reform of police tactics during strikes.
"The brute force that we have seen used by police in so many strikes can no longer be tolerated."
Cosatu called for urgent attention to be given to the
fact that a lack of funds to support striking workers was fuelling
violence during strikes.
"Despite previous congress resolutions on the
establishment of strike funds, no affiliate has succeeded in
establishing a comprehensive national fund."
Cosatu was also concerned about a recent Constitutional
Court judgment against the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union which
found trade unions liable for damage to property or people during
"It is recommended that Cosatu should campaign for
changes in the law to make it explicitly clear that unions should not
automatically be held liable in the event [of] damage to property during
Cosatu's survey found that 85 percent of strikes were
wage-related, six percent were retrenchment-related, and five percent
had to do with unfair discipline or dismissal.
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