In the wake of the recent South African Airways (SAA) strike where unions and the airline had to go for mediation at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for an agreement to be reached.
Eusebius McKaiser facilitates debate on whether trade unions are a force for good or bad in South Africa with Wits University vice-chancellor Adam Habib, Business Maverick journalist Ed Stoddard and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) spokesperson Sizwe Pamla.
I am a great supporter of unions generally and I don't believe that in many parts of the world you would have got social democracy without unions playing a check and balance role against political and economic elites in society.— Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor - Wits University
When unions lose their sense of pragmatism, they overplay their hand, Habib says.
I worry that sometimes our unions are overplaying their hand. I think that society is increasingly tired of the fact that strike after strike become violent. Union leaders who claim they have nothing to do with the violence are implicitly complicit in creating a culture of violence.— Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor - Wits University
He says sometimes unions refuse to understand competing imperatives, the survival of a business and economy with the what workers demand.
Pamla believes that unions are a force for good in South Africa.
However, with everything that involves humans, there are imperfections and unions sometimes do make mistakes. Unions have been progressive in South Africa, however, a lot needs to be improved including infighting of unions.— Sizwe Pamla, Spokesperson - Cosatu
Stoddard agrees with Habib and says at times unions have had an overreach in recent history in South Africa.
At the same time, there have been examples where unions have reached a compromise. Most recently in the platinum sector, Amcu which is known for its militancy reached an above-inflation wage increase deal.— Ed Stoddard, Journalist - Business Maverick
Listen below to the full conversation: