President Jacob Zuma's directive to government ministers and striking unions to come up with a 'give and take' deal is welcome. An end to the strike will be good news particularly to the hard hit health and education sectors of the Southern Africa country. Last year, disillusioned South Africans rose up against other African nationalities whom they accused of taking over their jobs. We once wrote here that President Zuma, famous for "Mshini Wam" dance will be dancing over "hot coals" courtesy of the fact that majority of black South African are largely excluded from the country's economic success. When the De Klerk regime ceded political power to black South Africans; economic power remained in the hands of the White as blacks had been starved of relevant skills by the apartheid regime.
The strike once more brings into sharp focus the role of trade unions in contributing to or impeding productivity. It is undeniable that some employers economically exploit employees and refuse to give individual
employees a hearing. However, the labor action in South Africa ought to be treated as a symptom of a serious problem in two key areas: South Africa's labor policy and the marginalization of black South Africans from mainstream economic activities.
The South African government and Labor Unions ought to focus on the
historical factors that led to the marginalization of the majority and develop policies that will give more economic opportunities to the poor. It is expedient that unions be prevailed upon to cease emotional protests and become scientific. This will enable them weigh the state of the economy and worker productivity against their demands. Failure to do this not only complicates the labor chain but also leads to marginal productivity. The government on the other hand ought to invest heavily in equipping South Africans with skills that will enable them to respond to challenges that face them. Fighting for a shrinking pie instead of increasing its size will do South Africa no good. Work to involve the black South Africa in pie baking industry!
Comment on this article!