Strike prevention better than cure
SOUTH Africa can avoid cycles of drawn-out strikes which invariably result in economic consequences to businesses and workers alike.
Chris Jacobs, director at business consultancy firm OIM International, said new long-term partnerships between business and union leaders were crucial to the future of both businesses and employees.
"In a lot of the cases, and especially in your prolonged strikes, the settlement that they reach at the end of the strike is sometimes of such a nature that the percentage increase that employees get does not count for the loss of income during the strike," he said.
People do not understand the long-term effects of the strike, he said.
"Prevention is always better than cure. First of all, it is the responsibility of the management to create a trust relationship between itself and employees. It is also the responsibility of the management to ensure that workers are constantly well informed and educated about the financial wellbeing of the company. It is not something that should be communicated during wage talks, and management cannot expect the unions to fill that role."
He argued that businesses were often reactive rather than proactive in educating their own employees.
He said workers also needed to be educated about the broader economy, so that they saw things in perspective. "It's an investment they are making in the future of their businesses and peoples' lives that are being affected by the business. They often say if you think education is expensive, try ignoring it."