Workers are fighting issues other than low wages
As wage negotiations in South Africa start heating up, other issues affecting workers, ranging from affirmative action concerns by mineworkers to sick leave demands from bus drivers, are being brought to the fore.
Metrobus workers began an indefinite strike on Monday in a dispute with the company over sick leave, a new trend in the negotiation process, says labour consultant Tony Healy.
"It's the first time [this] has become an agenda item leading to this sort of action," he said.
The Metrobus strike in Johannesburg and a strike by Modikwa platinum mineworkers in Limpopo have already got support from the country's largest trade union, the Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), which yesterday said it was behind both strikes.
"Cosatu fully supports the thousands of our members who are presently moving into action to implement the National Congress resolution to step up its Jobs and Poverty Campaign by striking for better wages and working conditions and struggling against racism and exploitation," the federation said.
More than 2000 members of the National Union of Mineworkers at the Modikwa mine, which is joint owned by Anglo Platinum and African Rainbow Minerals, started striking last Friday to demand an end to racism, which they say affects workers' salaries, transport subsidies and shifts.
Both parties said yesterday that progress had been made in negotiations between the union and employers earlier this week and that a compromise was reached on the provision of transport subsidies for workers as well as the wage gap between white and black staff.
The only contentious issue was that of continuous operation and taking on more shifts where workers were supposed to be off, said NUM chief negotiator Humbulani Tshikalange. - With I-Net Bridge