Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Our nation of 'action'

There isn't much to disagree with here. I think we can all relate to the frustration of having constant threats of strike action thrown at us for every little niggle which a union thug-head deems worthy of his attention. Sometimes I think strikes are called for the sake of giving the union leaders something to do and thereby show his membership that he serves a purpose other than to dine on the union's expense account. I mean, what was it recently? They threatened to strike because of job losses..?

Also, in the news today:
COSATU condemns Moeletsi Mbeki's comments on unions - Moeletsi Mbeki says that "they have no leadership. Cosatu lost their leaders in 1994. The unions are left with leaders who have no education, no knowledge, no expertise. That's why the poor are being ripped off... they don't understand the political economy of SA". (Hear Hear!)

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By Thando Tshangela
(News24 user)

South Africa is a nation of industrial action. Teachers, doctors, police officers, and emergency service workers go on strike without any compunction. Even students sometimes go on strike; I'm waiting for the time when primary school learners and soldiers demand their right to go on strike.

In a democratic society workers have the right to negotiate better working and salary conditions. It is an essential right which lies at the core of our society like the right to dignity, equality and freedom of speech. But all rights are not absolute; they can be limited as enshrined in section 36 of the Constitution. Obviously they cannot be limited arbitrarily but only by a law of general application.

Workers like police, doctors, emergency services workers, and teachers should not be allowed to strike. The government is currently revising labour laws. It will be advisable for the government to classify the aforementioned work as essential services and therefore drastically curtail their right to strike.

Soldiers have a union but they do not have the right to embark on industrial action. They have mechanisms in place to resolve their grievances. If they go on strike they threaten national security and they will be charged with mutiny.

There is no reason why the same shouldn't happen to doctors, teachers and police officers. The doctors hold the life of their patients in their hands and if they strike they endanger precious and innocent lives.

As for the police, crime is a national crisis and if the cops go on strike they give criminals Carte Blanche. During the last civil service strike the police couldn't strike as they were declared to be essential services by the court.

With regard to education, South Africa is bottom of the list in literacy, maths and the standard of education. And the education of our kids is important to ensure a prosperous and productive society that can compete globally. The right of teachers to strike must be outlawed and a special bargaining council be put into place.

If it should be necessary for industrial action it should happen outside school hours. Student organisations like Congress of South African Students must not be allowed to embark on class boycotts or be banned from organising in schools. Education must be classified as the number one essential service above national defence.

To ensure that people who work in the essential services do not go on strike the government must pay better salaries for these workers. It does not help to work as a qualified teacher for 10 years and earn a salary equivalent to that of a Personal Assistant who has only matric.

The top officials must trim their fat pay cheques, beginning with the president, and pay good salaries to people who really matter most, those who hold our life, future and security in their hands.

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