Union strikes are a last resort by desperate workers

Before we even consider the merits and demerits of a strike action, we need to reflect deeper on the processes that lead to strikes. Strikes by unions are often a last resort by people who have exhausted all avenues of soliciting fair responses to their legitimate concerns.

Before we even consider the merits and demerits of a strike action, we need to reflect deeper on the processes that lead to strikes. Strikes by unions are often a last resort by people who have exhausted all avenues of soliciting fair responses to their legitimate concerns.

We have to ask why, if we care for the lives of the poor, have we not moved speedily to make our public health institutions centres of excellence with proud and passionate workers, instead of the filthy, under-resourced and maladministered places that most of them are.

Millions of the poor are denied access to health care in the current system because of a lack of facilities. And this is not just an accident of history. It is a result of the choices we made to close clinics and hospitals in the old days of Gear.

The truth is that most public health institutions have been deteriorating into death centres. And when workers leave the public service we call them unpatriotic.

The right of workers to strike must be cherished and protected. There is a danger that we may be moving towards an anti-democratic system wherein the actions of the poor are criminalised and those of the powerful are legitimised.

The unions should continue to maintain the justness of their cause by offering basic minimum services in the key institutions of society.

Desmond Lesejane,

Johannesburg

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