So the Public Sector strike is over. In Unite and Conquer I did some frightening calculations based on a two week strike and a final agreed increase of 9%. This is what I said on 4 June;
“If the strike lasts two weeks, the average State Employee, earning R6500 pm, could forfeit R3250 in salary, and assuming that they eventually get say a 9% increase (R7020 pa), this will only net him an annual increase of R3770. If he had accepted the States initial offer of 6% he would have got R4 680. Now where is the logic here?”
Let’s look at what has actually transpired;
Our average State Employee, earning a mere R6500 pm is going to forfeit a FULL months salary (the strike lasted 4 weeks) of R6500. His 7.5% increase has netted him an annual increase of R5850. He is thus R650 worse off than when he started the strike. If he had accepted the States initial offer of 6%, he would have got R4680 more. The cost of the strike to this poor average Joe is thus R5330.
Yes, yes, I know, this simplistic example is full of holes. Yes, I know that there were other benefits negotiated eg. a R500 housing allowance and increased Medical Scheme contributions. He also gets three months to pay back this lost salary. But hey, better off? I really don’t think so.
Now let’s look at the timing of this strike and also when it ended. On the second day of the ANC Policy conference. Co-incidence? I don’t think so. A big whip? Yeah, exactly.
COSATU and the SA Communist Party have suffered a mortal blow, whatever web the spin doctors spin. Firstly, a disastrous strike costing it’s members a fortune, and then a public rebuke by Thabo Mbeki in his address to the conference.
A split in the Alliance? Well why not? It would be good for democracy, Mbeki could end his term with the ruling party firmly set on an economic growth path, and the shackles of the left could finally be shed. And then watch the party fly. Hell, even Synaptoman could be tempted to give the old “A” party a vote.
In conclusion, and with the utmost respect to my fellow blogger, Walton, I strongly question the relevance of organised labour in a developing country like South Africa.
Under the dreaded Apartheid, the labour movement was the only means of political expression that the ordinary worker had. Apartheid has ended, the ballot box beckons.
The ordinary worker would never have agreed to a strike if the consequences had been spelt out to him in the following form;
We want to embark on strike action against your employee (which is actually a power struggle within the ANC/SA Communist Party/COSATU Alliance), and need you to kindly tick your preference as to its duration, and then sign this letter in agreement thereof. The duration and what you stand to gain/-lose are set out below;
1) Accept the States offer of 6%
= you get R 5850 more per annum.
2) We strike for 2 weeks and get 9%
= you get R 3770 more per annum (after lost wages which actually equals 4.8%)
3) We strike for 4 weeks and get 7.5%
= you get R650 less per annum and owe even more to the Micro Lender.