TAKE2: Why strikes are good for SA’s economy

While Trevor Manuel may think South African businesses are cowards by not standing up to the unions, I suspect CEOs are rubbing their hands in glee — because strikes are an ingenious way to deal with overcapacity.

Right now British Airways could do with a strike. It has asked employees to either work for free for a month or take a month of unpaid leave (I know which option I would choose). In South Africa that sort of request would be met with, surprise, surprise, a strike — which would effectively be the same thing.

A series of strikes during a recession is, in fact, such a brilliant concept, it has possibly been conjured up by Nedlac itself. Maybe the negotiations at Nedlac have actually born out a recession strategy which creates a win-win scenario for unions and businesses alike.

With manufacturing figures collapsing, there must be a lot of unwanted working hours to pay for. But companies don’t want to retrench because it is expensive and they will just have to re-hire the workers when the economy recovers.

Strikes, which operate on a no work, no pay basis, reduce the salary bill for companies while the unions get to look like they are flexing some muscle and remain the working person’s hero.

Take Numsa, for example, who are threatening to strike if Mboweni does not cut the repo rate dramatically.

Numsa knows this is not going to happen — the day our Reserve Bank policy is dictated to by striking unions is the day we can all kiss our pension funds and the economy goodbye, as South Africa’s sovereign rating plummets and foreign investors (and local ones) draw their money out of the country like it’s a ponzi scheme.

But if they do go ahead and strike, they will look like the hero of the working people, and SA Inc won’t have to ask their workers to take unpaid holidays.

Now if only we could find a way to get overpaid CEOs to strike!

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Maya Fisher French
Guest Author

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Going hungry or going green? A critical look at the...

Food security discourse remains in strong support of development and food aid, which has almost certainly undermined the stability of local agricultural markets in Africa

Bheki Cele’s community policing forums plan met with scepticism

However experts warn that SAPS’s R100.6-billion annual budget should be better spent and monitored

SA female filmmakers exhibit their work at Festival de Cannes

A candid story about love; and how human beings’ shortcomings get in the way

As mobile internet speeds rise, Africans are spending more time...

The move online due to Covid-19 restrictions further boosted the demand for such services by people on the continent

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…