Johannesburg - Despite fears that industries closely related to the 2010 Fifa World Cup could be targeted by strikes next year, the economy is likely to see less industrial friction than in 2009, labour experts have said.
Jaco Kleynhans, a spokesperson for trade union Solidarity, expects a drop in wage negotiations in 2010. According to him, 2009 had an extraordinarily high number of salary talks because of the reinstitution of multi-year wage agreements.
Industries are increasingly moving towards wage agreements spanning a number of years.
The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) earlier this year agreed on its first-ever four-year wage agreement.
Seifsa said the wage model it has at present "will be applied again next year to determine the level of wage increases for 2010 - again without the necessity of any form of wage negotiations".
In doing so, the organisation wants to guard itself against "industrial disruption and high wage settlements" in 2010. An 8.8% wage increase was awarded in July 2009.
Under the Seifsa umbrella and by way of its many associations, 2 700 companies employing 270 000 people will be spared seasonal wage demands that typically take hold in June and July every year.
But Kleynhans warned that industries associated with the World Cup - like tourism and transport - could face labour action and conceded they may be targeted "unfairly" by employees looking to use the event as a means to bump up their pay.
He said it would be "very unethical" for trade unions to use the World Cup as a means to push up wages and said the practice "should be condemned".
Companies operating in the pharmaceutical sector and industrial chemicals - like Sasol, Afrox and Omnia - also face new wage talks as current contracts expire on June 30 2010.
Ahead of 2010, Ingrid Dimo, CEO of the National Bargaining Council for the Chemical Industry, said: "The public shouldn't worry, the parties involved are working around the 2010 calendar so that negotiations won't interfere [with soccer matches] and all parties are well aware of the tournament's importance."