Shelter of a public sector job will not quell the muttering
Ekurhuleni metro police during a meeting in April to prepare for a strike. THE events at Marikana and De Doorns in August and November last year cast a long shadow. The farm workers’ strike was settled, after just three weeks of "deliberations", by ministerial fiat and a sharp increase in the farming sector’s minimum wage to R105 a day.
Official employment statistics leave a lot to be desired but, since 2000, farming employment fell from 2.5-million to just 661,000, largely as a result of unrealistic minimum wages. In the same period, mining employment fell from 1.2-million to 519,000, despite a substantial increase in mining production, largely as a result of mechanisation and automation.
The farming strike has lost the public’s interest and most of the attention is now on the mining sector. However, South Africa’s next labour-relations crisis is likely to come from a completely different quarter — the public service.
Unionisation in the public service has reached 81% of the workforce, with the amazing result that there are more union members in the public sector than in the entire private sector put together. The saturation of union membership in the public sector has led to interunion rivalries and splinter trade unions in the transport, electrification, nursing, teaching and policing sectors.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) — the dominant public-sector union — has long been subject to a crisis of relevance, leading, in the platinum belt, to the emergence of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.... Read the full, comprehensive news article and discuss at Business Day