It seems to me that everywhere you turn there is a strike on. Metrorail, Game, energy workers, miners, metro police, post office, taxi drivers - it seems like all sectors have either been on strike or are currently on strike.
But Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana was at pains at the Annual Labour Law conference to stress that this was nothing out of the ordinary. This is stike season and this is normal, he told the lawyers and unionists present. The subtext was that it really was NOT because President Jacob Zuma had made a pact with the unions and they were now exercising their part of the bargain!
With power and food costs rising rapidly over the last years its not really surprising to me that unions are making demands for significant percentage increases. My household electricity bill has doubled over the last two years for the same amount of electricity. Those without much disposable income must really suffer in times like these.
But amidst all the doom and gloom and strong allegations about exploitation wages and shrinking buying power, its good to see that at least one union is focusing on the really important issues.
Demands for wage increases, housing allowances and pension benefits are SO last year. The metalworkers union Numsa is focusing on the SABC. And not even the rather trivial issue of the broadcaster being more than R1 Billion short of funds which is likely to devastate the local production industry.
"Numsa abhors the decision of the SABC to delay the live soccer match between Orlando Pirates vs. Mamelodi Sundowns, scheduled for this evening 19 August 2009, Ellis Park, Johannesburg. This decision is totally an insult and provocative to the millions of workers and the poor who rely on SABC for live soccer broadcast".
Clearly the dialectics of historical materialism are at play in the public broadcaster (I have no idea what they means and must make a note to ask Minister Dr Blade Nzimande to explain it to me)!
Of course the whole issue could become moot if Numsa's more curtly abbreviated colleagues at Num have their way. If the mineworkers union goes on strike the power will go off and noone will be able to watch Orlando Pirates play Mamelodi Sundowns.