Are Worker’s Demands for a double digit figure realistic? 10


Are Worker’s demands for a double digit figure realistic?

It was interesting to have witnessed how employers are still arrogant in narrowing wage gaps in the current conjuncture through the Media platforms by still advocating that Trade Unions are unrealistic. A question was asked as to whether; Are Worker’s demands for a double digit figure realistic?

The toiling masses have always been striving for more for their sweats and on the other hand the captains of capitalism allocate themselves triple the figures without any ‘blinking of eyes’ from any one. And labour power have proved to be a commodity possessed by workers in general within the employment relations milieu should be restored as a necessary valve to regulate power relations between employers and employees.

It is unacceptable for economist analysis interviewed to express a rented view that worker’s demands are ‘unrealistic’ and it is an expression of a dim view to people’s suffering; with many workers unable to afford transport to work, lunch packs and other commodities due to low salaries.

It is embarrassing to have heard an employer’s representative articulating a view that ‘the agreement is a ‘scandal and disappointing’.

And a dim view has always been the usage of the Consumer Price Index [CPI] which currently stand at 4.2% as a ‘thee barometer’ yet when executives and parliamentarians will ‘give’ themselves more than the ‘CPI consideration’.

This continues to show narrow attitude of employers to garner for more profits at the expense of employees getting slavery wages. Such stance displays the hostility of some employers on Trade Union’s existence.

Arguments to pay less wages on the basis that they are committed to job creating is appalling and disingenuous. Whilst the private sector have secured the proposed 10%, it will be divisive for the public service to receive less on the basis that many will argue that “different kinds of labouring power have different values, or require different quantities of labour for their production, they must fetch different prices in the labour market”.

The Unity of the toiling classes in this demanding times will be vital to fight the triple socio-economic ills; unemployment, poverty and inequalities.


A living wage campaign led by COSATU after the 05th Central Executive Committee at Midrand was a necessary step taken to heighten the engines to consolidate working class hegemony. To suggest as per some economist that living wage campaign is ‘unimaginable’, is a superlative degree of pessimism which every worker must join progressive Trade Unions to fight against.

Apartheid wage structure must be flushed into museums of this country!

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. And the struggle continues…..unless all classes are crushed!

Issued by:
Mampane Norman
National Spokesperson
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union
Tel: 0112424600/4615
Cell: 0720737959
01 Marie Road
Auckland Park

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10 thoughts on “Are Worker’s Demands for a double digit figure realistic?

  • Jonathan Cloete

    While it appear as if a minimum base line remuneration system could be part of a solution, rather than arbitrary double digit increases, this takes us back to our age of legislated wage determination. This system was hugely flawed, as it was skewed in favour of big cities, leaving rural and deep rural areas picking up the crumbs. This will certainly affect the bargaining relationships that exists between employers and unions. This will also have the inadvertent effect of bargaining council wage agreements, which does not necessarily take the size of the employer into account, but set remuneration for the industry concerned. Individual employers’ voice would be eternally lost, and they may eventually have to close shop.

    I do not believe we can forever be beholden to a flawed free mmarket system, as it is meant to thrive in an oversupplied labour market, as it drives wages down. Given SA’s high levels of unemployment, without trade unions as a necessary evil, workers are likely to be worse off, as trade unions currently forms the buffer between capitalist greed and worker needs. However, trade unions are not referees or impartial in this relationship, and cannot be expected to act in the interest of employers.

    I would suggest that the following be investigated:

    1. the feasability of the setting of a mandatory percentage of profit earmarked for bargaining unit wages;

    2. using the CCMA and Bargaining Councils to facilitate compulsary collective bargaining – with a right to strike or lock-out only when one of the parties unreasonable refuse to consider recommendations by an agency on increases.

    Leaving the bargaining relationship in the hands of labour and capital, given their conflicting interests and ideological premises, will not result in lasting labour peace. This is at the heart of employer’s offering seemingly low increases and trade unions demanding seemingly unrealistic, high wage demands.

    Des, I don’t believe a gravy train is to blame for SA’s woes. There has always been a gravy train, even pre-1994, the only difference is that the passengers have changed. The average MP does not earn nearly as much as managers in companies, and yet the perception is that they are all millionaires. It certainly seem that way when people come from financially nowhere, to earning a “big” salary and drive a flashy car, compared to his poor neigbours. Reducing parliamentarians’ salaries will not contribute to fixing our poverty problem. Our problem is economic, and must be solved economically – a solution that receives huge resistence from the chiefs capital , who rides the real gravy train. Refrences to gravy train invokes a feeling that there is an inherent contradiction in the minute fraction of a percentage of upwardly mobile politicians and black business people.

    As a general comment – we must endeavour to find economic solutions for our economic problems, lest we run the risk of this space turning into a space for comments with political undertones. Let’s excahnge ideas, discuss solutions, influence our world for change!

  • Des Squire

    I am disappointed there are so few solutions being offered since Sylvia posed the question – what are the constructive solutions? 

    This always makes me laugh because in SA we are fantastic complainers, wonderful at self promotion, abominable listeners and most are reluctant or refuse to think problems through or offer solutions. Watch this space for reactions!!!!  

  • cindypayle

    Hi all 

    i have to say it’s not only our ‘consumption government’ (as Marafu puts it)that stunts progress but our ‘consumerist society’ as Minister Pravin Gordhan said in a recent media statement when he spoke about the lack of savings inclination in SA:

    ‘Data indicates that South Africa’s gross savings were 16 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2009. This is compared with China’s savings rate of 52 percent and Russia’s rate of 22 percent’

    It is not so much the amount of money that workers earn but the way in which money is perceived and used that will liberate poverty stricken communities and until South Africans adopt a culture of saving their appetite for higher wages will never be satisfied. How will setting a limit on how much others earn change the way I spend my salary?  In the same way a double-digit salary will not solve the socio-economic ills the country is facing. These ‘solutions’ will only reinforce the attitude of entitlement that is so prevalent today.

     The change must start in the mindset of the individual. Perhaps if we stop comparing ourselves with others and spent less time thinking about what we deserve or what we are believe we are owed we would learn to be content with what we have and build on that…

  • Chris Reay

    One cannot socially engineer work and reward, it has to follow market demand and supply. Hire and fire built the successful economies whether we like it or not. We tinker with nice-to-haves a-la first world and finish up with our typical labour legislation that is driving down employment, moving manufacturing off shore or automating it here. All ably assisted by our devastated education standards. When will the powers that be focus on generating a climate that appeals to and assists entrepreneurs and new business development? All this fiddling with minimum rates and the threatening vein in the labour act amendments will REDUCE employment and INCREASE poverty levels. The unions will eventually destroy SA as they create obtacles for the unemployed. Shareholders should show responsiblity and demand a cap on increases for executives that are patently ridiculous. If nothing else it may demonstrate some concern and care. If only we could join the dots and realise what is happening………..

  • Des Squire

    Hi Sylvia, I do agree the cap is the problem so if we just start with the baseline we will be making progress.

    Perhaps the cap should be set at say R600000 for the automatic cost of living increase – Anything over this would not attract an automatic increase and would have to be negotiated. For employees earning less than say R36000 per year then the additional 5% would be payable until they achieve this levl. They would then only receive the cost of living increase for the balance of the period. (Figures to be negotiated) Strikes however would not be permitted under any circumstances for the five year period.

    All other salaries and benefits should also be capped perhaps at say a maximum of R1million for specific periods of time. Something needs to happen as salaries, perks and bendefits are out of control and cannot be sustained.  

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Ok so we have the problem – where are the constructive solutions?

    Des suggests that there should be a minimum base line that everyone should receive that level or above.

    That should be easy to establish, what are the basic requirements?  food, transport, house, children & school, and so on – pretty easy to establish.  To fund that, all those earning over a certain amount should be capped.   I would suggest it’s going to be much easier to establish the baseline than the cap.  What should the cap be?  For private industry & public servants?

  • Chris Reay

    II have a system dymamics based model that indicates that SA will be bankrupt this decade unless some drastic changes happen. The tipping point will occur when commodities demand reduces and the fiscus then cannot afford to continue with the present state of government. When you take out more than you put in, eventually the pot empties.

  • Des Squire

    To my way of thinking there is so much can be said on this issue. however it is not as simple as whether or not double digit increases are correct or not. We have come out of an era of Apartheid where many of the population were underpaid – whether they were ever overworked is questionable Ha Ha.

    After we became a democracy many people joined the “gravy train” and many supposed “Historically Disadvantages” people benefited.

    The average worker – black, white, coloured, indidan or whatever now saw many HDI’ s making a killing and an impression was created that there was money to be had basically for doing nothing. (The politicians and others on the gravy train are to blame for this)

    A perception was created that all those earning low wages are entitled to earn much bigger salaries in order to participate in the “catch up” game and the inequalities of the past. The problem of course was that no “BASE LINE” had been established. In addition some trade unionists, who by the way had also had a ride on the gravy train, decided “to hell with job loses – putting companies out of business and so on” let’s support the workers in their demands. Herein lies the problem.

    Once again an air of expectancy and entitlement had been created by the unions and no one seemed to care about the country, the job losses, the companies going out of business and so on. 

    Yes, workers are entitled to a decent wage – to reward for effort put in – but by the same token companies are entitled to be treated fairly and not driven into bankrupsy.

    I still believe

    1. A “base line” fair wage needs to be established for all industries
    2. There should be a cost of living related wage increase each year for the next five years or so automatically payable to all employees earning less than RX ? 
    3. Employees earning less than RY would receive an additional % over this 5 year perod.
    4. Senior employees earning more than RX should have their salaries and benefits capped at this amount for a specified period. 
    5. There should be no industrial action over this period of any nature as the objective would be to allow companies to recoouperate and instill in employees a need for increased productivity. This would be a time for working together for the good of all where all are involved and many would be called on toe make some form of sacrifice. There is no gain without pain.               
  • Rufaz M Mavhure

    We have a consumption government rather than a productive one hence the silence. The government spends more on paper signing positions which are not productive.Imagine a Minister,a DG etc all earning millions ,diving million cars at no sweat.Will they see the logic of a double digit increase? We are still in the Shakespeare era “some animal are more equal.” Some labour unions bosses are like ‘soccer captain with football boots but telling the barefooted players to play in gravel and thorny fields”.Do they really negotiate in faith ?

  • Brian Moores-Pitt

    It is wonderful that we still have forums in this country where all views can be openly expressed.  One sincerely hopes that this is allowed to continue.  I do have a question though.  Are SA and Cuba the only countries left that still espouse this particular dialogue?   My understanding of the realities of global economics is that this philosophical diatribe has been discredited so many times in the modern era that it has been “flushed into the museums” of the world.  After all, even Minister Blade and Juju now prefer the rather substantial fruits of their labour .