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Media Centre | COSATU Press Statements
COSATU Statement on current strike protest actions
1 October 1998
This year has seen a new trend in strike action. While the number of strikes have dropped over the past years, current ones have been intense and protracted. The massive T&GWU strike in the beginning of the year, the recent one by Chemical workers and a number of current ones by our affiliates.
Its is a fact that long drawn-out strike actions not only frustrate workers but also makes a speedy negotiated settlement very difficult and sometimes leads to workers venting their anger onto non-striking workers.
COSATU does not condone any violence that has accompanied some of our strikes even though these have been isolated incidents. We believe that this can be avoided if employers move from the current intransigent mood to one committed to real negotiations. The employment of scab labour in industries where workers are on strike has also inflamed the already vulnerable situation situation. While we accept that the Labour Relations Act allows employers to employ scab labour, under the disguise of replacement labour, we maintain that this exacerbates the problem as it effectively minimises the efforts of employers to work towards reaching a settlement. Our argument has been vindicated, as this year we saw prolonged negotiation disputes with employers opting for the unconstructive route of hiring scab labour.
It is unacceptable for employers to plead poverty whilst at the same time placing expensive advertisements to advance their arrogant positions. It is extremely outrageous for employers to set pre-conditions for negotiations to take place. We believe that the attitude portrayed by most employers in the current wage negotiations are a means of advancing the Business South Africa's Growth for all documents, as it calls for labour market flexibility, lower wages and wage freeze. This is another form of downward variation, as employer's positions tend to offer nothing above the current wage levels. This undermines the Collective Bargaining clauses covered by the Labour Relations Act. It is typical of South African employers to hold on to the past even when there are new laws that seek to minimise the number of disputes. The approach by Samea, that of offering minimum instead of real wage increases means that most workers may not receive any increases.
We call on all our members to embark on peaceful demonstrations and not to allow themselves to be provoked into acts of violence.
COSATU calls on unions and employers involved in negotiations to embark on a settlement route with renewed vigor. We also urge employers to respect the picketing rules as outlined in the Labour Relations Act. This needs to be negotiated between the union and employers.
We further call on the International Trade Union Movement, in so far as they have links with companies involved in disputes, to embark on a solidarity protest action.
Nowetu Mpati COSATU Head of Communications
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