Strikes: where do we draw the line?
A Fin24 blogger writes:
"AS SOUTH Africans we know that we’ve got the right to strike – it’s in the constitution – but where exactly should we draw the line?
At malicious damage to property? Or when innocent people trying to put food on their tables are injured, threatened and intimidated on their way to work?
What about when striking workers start to affect the entire country’s economy? Should we perhaps draw the line there?"
These questions by Staff Training are amplified in a post by a concerned miner on Fin24’s Facebook page on the news that Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] is ready to fire 15 000 striking miners.
Mbuyie Gwada writes: “Eish I don't want to comment about it, because I am one of those that will be fired tomorrow if majority say that nobody (is) their to report. How can you go alone to report (for work and) you leave others behind? They will kill you.”
Gwada needn’t worry anymore, because Gold Fields workers on Wednesday heeded a warning that should they not return to work by Thursday, they would get fired. But not everyone is smiling.
Workers have been on strike since September 24 and the gold producer on Tuesday counted the cost of industrial action: about R1.2bn in revenue and 65 000 ounces in gold production.
But what about the workers? Isn’t it possible that this system that protects workers’ rights to strike is being abused?
Or could it be that the unions behind these workers see instigating strikes as an easy way of growing their numbers and increasing the power they hold over business?
In a country where labour unions are capable of bringing entire business sectors to a halt, shouldn’t we be looking at the legitimacy of their reasons for initiating strike action?
States Staff Training: “When striking workers endanger the lives of ordinary citizens, or when the demands are unjustified, or when workers who cannot afford to strike or don’t agree with the reasons for the strike are threatened and hurt, then I think it’s time to stand up as a country and decide that we won’t be held ransom anymore.”
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