Find am­i­ca­ble way of re­solv­ing job im­passe

Daily News - - METRO -

THE STAND- OFF be­tween the labour move­ment and gov­ern­ment must be re­solved as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

We are at the precipice due to our econ­omy be­ing in a bad state. More than 2.2 mil­lion work­ers lost their jobs in the sec­ond quar­ter due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics SA, labour force sur­vey data shows that 640 000 of the 2.2 mil­lion job losses were in the in­for­mal sec­tor with a fur­ther 311 000 in the do­mes­tic work sec­tor.

This is cat­a­strophic for a coun­try like South Africa which has an un­em­ploy­ment rate of 42%.

The is­sue of the gov­ern­ment reneg­ing on the three- year agree­ment with pub­lic sec­tor unions should have been han­dled dif­fer­ently. The gov­ern­ment has an obli­ga­tion to hon­our the spirit and let­ter of the agree­ment.

Fail­ure to do that will send the wrong sig­nals to other bar­gain­ing coun­cils of var­i­ous sec­tors. Labour re­la­tions al­low for the ex­emp­tion in the event a com­pany can’t af­ford to pay the wages as agreed. How­ever, there must be com­pelling rea­sons why they can’t pay, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sures con­firm­ing the dire sit­u­a­tion of the com­pany.

The gov­ern­ment should also have com­pelling rea­sons for why it can’t pay the pub­lic sec­tor work­ers while bil­lions of rand are be­ing squan­dered by gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and state- owned en­ti­ties.

The gov­ern­ment, un­der the aus­pices of the pub­lic ser­vice sec­tor co- or­di­nat­ing bar­gain­ing coun­cil, and the labour unions should find an am­i­ca­ble way of re­solv­ing the im­passe rather than this tit- for- tat ap­proach which re­sulted in the mas­sive stay­away this week.


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