Today's Labour News

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protestFin24 writes that Cosatu announced on Tuesday that it would hold a national strike on Thursday, which is also the Global Day for The Worker, to send a message to the government and the private sector that the “economic mess that the country finds itself in" has to be fixed.

But, the announcement was not met with a hellish day of trade at the JSE or diatribes from captains of industry about the catastrophic implications of an estimated 1.8 million workers staying home and withdrawing their labour. Past trends, including Cosatu-aligned unions being outmanoeuvred by rivals in the private sector and an inability to recruit enough members to break through the two-million member mark, suggest that this dice roll might prove a misstep. For starters, the federation’s affiliates have not said anything definitive about the scale of the action and how much support it has from ordinary members. Labour analyst Andrew Levy commented that the action was not necessarily about pulling SA out of an economic mess, but about a political show of force, namely about Cosatu demonstrating to the ANC and its rival federations that it still held considerable sway in organised labour and that it controlled a large tranche of votes. "The answer is that this action taken on the surface is bound to fail. You certainly don't pressure government to fix an ill-defined issue, like an economic mess, by going on strike, much less going on strike for one day," commented Levy. In his view, the move might backfire: "Anything worse than a full turnout would work against them. There is a lot of competition for membership right now. If Cosatu can show that they still have numbers, they will show Numsa and Saftu a signal that Cosatu is standing up for workers. But it has little chance of success." In Levy’s view, the appetite for strikes was generally low among ordinary union members.

  • Read the full opinion piece in the above regard by Khulekani Magubane at Fin24 (subscriber access only)

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