Today's Labour News

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strike thumb medium85 85Ciaran Ryan writes that the plastic converters industry strike by 33 000 workers, now in its ninth week, is turning out to be one of the most violent in years.  

According to the National Employers Association of SA (Neasa), the cost of the strike in terms of damage to property and lost production exceeds R100 million.  Employers believe this may be a portend of strike action going forward as unions battle it out for a dwindling pool of members.  Unionised membership outside the public sector has slipped from 26% two decades ago to below 20%.  Meanwhile, with unemployment at 27%, unions are fighting to protect members whose jobs are most vulnerable to replacement by low-skilled entrants.  Neasa CEO Gerhard Papenfus believes the plastics strike shows how trade unions, fighting for relevance, will behave in the future.  In the plastics strike, one worker was murdered, several more hospitalised, three CEOs assaulted at their place of work, and one CEO died as a result of attacks on his factory.  Hundreds more non-striking workers were assaulted at their residences, houses were burned down and 17 factories vandalised, petrol bombed or looted.  Employers have blamed the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) for the mayhem, but the union has disavowed responsibility.  

There has also been violence at Sibanye-Stillwater, where three people have died during a strike by 15,000 workers associated with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).  Dis-Chem has also been hit by strike action that turned violent in recent weeks.  The ongoing violence and breach of picketing rules by striking workers prompted the Labour Court to issue an unprecedented order barring picketing and protest action by Nupsaw last week.

  • Read this article in full at Moneyweb
  • Read Gerhard Papenfus of Neasa’s article at Neasa News

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