We are in the middle of a serious recession at the moment - worldwide - and yet trade unions in SA can still get their members to down tools in order to demand more pay. Because they are aligned with the ANC, they have leverage with which to make these demands. Now i strongly believe that we should have a minimum wage in this country, something that is sustainable and reasonable - a wage that allows for the average person to maintain a family - and this minimum wage to be implemented within all sectors of the market. I do however believe that this should be part of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, and should be instituted and governed by the governement themselves. Trade Unions would then not be required. An example of this is the Singapore model. The prime minister banned all trade unions as well as any union activity and simultaneously put better labour practices in place.
Strikes in SA, legal or illegal, negatively affect our economy on a global scale and on an individual company basis, even more-so. Some 15 years ago I worked for a bottling company and strikes that occurred that time back would cost one bottling line a downtime cost of R100 000 per hour - that is 15 years ago, one bottling line, one part of a business. Quite scarey. Only to find that the wage negotiations which possibly took 4 -5 weeks, and which would be agreed and finalised at the end of this period, would be the same percentage that the organisation originally put forward to the union. Such a waste of time, money and more-so the lack of pay for the workers striking, hence no money being fed into the family system.
Trade Unions are a business like any other. They are only interested in their subscriptions and member numbers. Sure, they might try to get a little more for certain industries or sectors, but like most businesses, their subs go up, you pay for what you get. We have CCMA in place, but cant say I look at it as a "fair" system as there are too many loopholes and a huge backlog, inexperienced arbitrators/mediators and some with certain biases....So I say lets lose the Trade Unions, improve labour policies and practices and ensure minimum wage structures with basic rights that apply - generically and across the board. If certain industries cannot comply due to certain reasons, application must be made to the government, putting forward these reasons with possible suggestions. It will also create more of a thinking nation. At least if a staff member, or a number of staff down tools and we have a system run by a government body, that company had better be on their toes and make sure that they are operating above board otherwise they could be taken to task. I think that is fair........