Labour Department Says Most Workers on Strike ‘Were Skilled and Well Paid’


According to the Department of Labour’s industrial action report for 2011 the majority of work stoppages last year which lost a record R1bn in wages were from skilled, private sector workers.

The cost of work stoppages rose from R407m in 2010 and indicated that it was highly paid, skilled workers who had put down their tools after more than R1bn in wages was lost due to the “no work, no pay” principle. These work stoppages included action by employees, such as strikes, and action by employers, such as lockouts.

Many wage settlements in the public sector last year were negotiated peacefully and quickly and because of this the public sector only lost approximately 200, 000 days as opposed to the private sector which lost more than 2.5 million working days. This number was down from a combined total of 20.6 million in 2010.

It is now believed that the public sector numbers will drop further this year and is looking at a peaceful period as this week a three-year wage agreement was struck between government and unions. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomed the agreement which was agreed to by all public service unions.

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