A decade of labour: Unions should re-assess their role

Last year was a difficult year for the labour market, especially if we look at strikes at Eskom, SAA and the National Union of Mine Workers.

Then there is the National Union of Metal Workers, who will oppose any form of privatisation at Eskom.

What happens from here on and what does the next decade look like?

It's interesting to take a slightly longer look back on the decade because the last decade has seen a lot of important and positive things, particularly from a legislative point of view. When it comes to industrial action, our performance has just steadily gotten worse. It does not bode well for the next couple of years.

Andrew Levy, Labour Economist and MD - Andrew Levy Employment

Interestingly if you look at SAA, the strike was, in fact, a major defeat for the unions.

Andrew Levy, Labour Economist and MD - Andrew Levy Employment

How can one mitigate the situation with regards to the unions - to ensure that they are part of the process from the onset or not part of the process at all?

The unions should take a long hard look at where they find themselves. One thing is clear - you cannot stop an employer from retrenching. And you cannot sustain strike action in the face of retrenchment. Would unions not do better by taking a co-operative stance with management, to do the best for their members to secure jobs going forward for others?

Andrew Levy, Labour Economist and MD - Andrew Levy Employment
FILE: The National Union of Mineworkers members on strike. Picture: @NUM_Media.

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