SOUTH AFRICA’s chronic strike problem can be solved by bringing more democracy into the workplace and allowing workers to take part in secret ballots before strikes, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Workers are the ones who lose their pay when they go on strike so they should be given a better opportunity to express their views,” said Ms Janine Myburgh, President of the Chamber.
She said the views of the union bosses were well known but there was reason to question whether they accurately reflected the views of their membership. “The level of violence and intimidation that accompanies most of our strikes suggests that they do not have popular support claimed and that most of the pressure comes from a small minority of workers.”
She pointed out that business, the unions and the Department of Labour had agreed on the need for strike ballots at NEDLAC but this requirement had been dropped without adequate explanation when the legislation came before Parliament.
“Strike ballots are used in many democratic countries and they have been proved to be very successful. Not only does it give company bosses a better understanding of their workers’ feelings, but it is also a check on the power games that get played in some unions,” she said.
She said the Chamber fully supported legal action against unions for damages suffered by business in the course of strikes, demonstrations and picketing. “We want to see more responsibility in industrial disputes and both company bosses and unions should be held accountable for excesses that can be laid at their doors,” Ms Myburgh said.
“All we want is more accountability and democracy in the workplace and business should pursue these ideals aggressively,” she said.