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South Africa: Explosive Strikes, a Ticking Time Bomb

South African miners
South African miners protesting for a livable wage

AFRICANGLOBE – Africa’s largest trade union movement, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has warned that strikes in South Africa remain a ticking time bomb needing to be addressed urgently.

Strikes were commonplace in South Africa in 2012 with the most explosive being in key sectors like mining, agriculture, and the transport industry.

In an annual review, Cosatu secretary general, Zwelinzima Vavi said the country faced a crisis of unemployment, equality and poverty, this coupled with strikes, was explosive.

Vavi said this was the biggest challenge the country faced in 2012 and will remain so in 2013 and beyond.

He said the union will hold a conference in March next year to discuss various labour issues, including collective bargaining, a process at the heart of many strikes this year.

Vavi said they supported the idea of “strategic nationalisation”, which the African National Congress raised during the recently concluded policy conference.

“Not everything has to be nationalised, it will not advance the working class and poor,” Vavi said.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC), which is in an alliance with Cosatu, recently said nationalisation was not the answer.

But the trade union said it had major reservations on some aspects of the ANC’s national development plan (NDP) that was adopted at the party’s just ended conference.

The development plan is seen as a blueprint for the country and its development path in the next 5 years.

“Our policy is not to endorse the NDP,” Vavi said.

Vavi said Cosatu also sends best wishes to former President Nelson Mandela, currently in hospital.

Cosatu wished him a full recovery and “many more years to inspire us”.

Mandela has been in the hospital the past few days recovering from an operation.

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