Workers Were Pawns in This Tussle for Political Power

Cape Times (South Africa), September 9, 2010 | Go to article overview

Workers Were Pawns in This Tussle for Political Power


Now that the labour unions have decided to suspend the strike while negotiations are being undertaken, it is time to look through the settling dust.

It is time to examine the income and expenditure statement, as well as the balance sheet of this transaction.

The government may pat itself on the back that it has brought about an end to the strike - albeit temporarily - while on the other hand labour unions may be happy that they made the government budge from its initial offer.

I think workers had reached their limit.

It was not easy to get to where the parties are today.

The battle has been hard and bruising and, as with all battles, there are casualties - most of them innocent.

This is where the balance sheet becomes sticky.

Who is to blame for the terrible impact this battle had on the innocent bystanders?

Finger-pointing becomes commonplace, making it important to look at how we got to this point.

I believe Polokwane was the starting point. There is an African idiom that goes: "Beware of those who carry salt on a hunting expedition."

In all situations opportunists will seek benefit for themselves and not those they claim to represent.

Many resolutions were taken in Polokwane, including the one relating to the improvement of public sector wages.

The police, teachers and nurses were particularly mentioned as being in need of urgent attention.

With this in mind workers proclaimed President Jacob Zuma as their leader and of the poor, worthy to lead the ANC and the country.

This raises the question: is the failure of the Zuma government to live up to expectations of raising salaries of the public sector the sole and primary reason for the debilitating strike?

I think not.

Polokwane resolutions were a political package meant to bring about a new era on the political landscape, characterised by the significant role to be played by the alliance partners who felt neglected under the Thabo Mbeki government. …

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Workers Were Pawns in This Tussle for Political Power
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