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Jobs rise but unionisation down - Adcorp

Apr 10 2012 10:22 Sapa

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Johannesburg - Around 108 000 jobs were created in March, up from 24 000 in February, according to the Adcorp Employment Index released on Tuesday.

It was also higher than the 80 000 created in January and the figure, the strongest since the 2009 recession, showed that employment grew at an annualised rate of 6.8% for March.

Temporary employment grew by 11.3% and permanent jobs by 9.2%.

Growth in the informal sector was 0.6% and agency work dropped by 3 098 jobs.

Employment growth in transport and logistics grew by 15.2%, electricity and utilities 13.3% and mining 12%.

Researchers examining trends in employment figures in the latest index flagged a "growing crisis" in the South African trade union movement.

“Since 2006 trade unions have lost 129 424 members which translates to a loss of R95 773 760 per annum in membership dues,” Adcorp's labour market analyst Loane Sharp said in a statement.

Three major setbacks for unions have been the reduction in their numbers since 2006 with total membership falling from around 3.5 million to around 3.3 million, low participation in strikes with only 1.4% of members turning out for strikes since 2006, and strike attendance ranging from 0% to 8.8%.

Union membership in the mining sector has seen membership as high as 80.7%, while in agriculture just 4.4%of employees belong to a union, Adcorp said.

Higher wages

“Where trade unions have been successful is in raising wages,” said Sharp.

Between 1995 and 2011, after inflation, remuneration in the non-agricultural sector increased from R9 378 per month to R12 564 per month.

In the 15 years since the Labour Relations Act was introduced, after-inflation wages increased by 28.8%.

But, said Sharp, unions had failed in the area of labour relations.

In 2010/2011 the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration received 156 000 referrals, 62% of which were settled in favour of employees against employers.

The Labour Court made 2042 decisions in 2011, with only 50% in favour of employees.

The statistics revealed that workplace conflict had been largely unchanged over the last 10 years.

Sharp believed the rising occurrence of industrial action was not symptomatic of genuine employer/employee conflict, but a response to gradually declining union membership and lower worker participation in strikes.

unemployment rate  |  sa economy  |  poverty
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