Over 940 000 working days lost to protests


Over 940 000 working days lost to protests
Cosatu announced a nationwide strike - Image - Die Vryburger

South Africa has lost 946 323 working days due to strikes.

The Department of Labour’s Acting Director General, Vuyo Mafata, on Thursday released the Industrial Action Report for 2016, which shows that the South African labour market lost a total of 946 323 working days as a result of 122 work stoppages.

This, according to the report, represents a 4.7% increase in working days lost in 2016 compared to 903 921 days in 2015.

Launching the report, Mafata said most of the work stoppages were due to wages, bonus and other compensation demands.

“In term of wages lost, the South African labour economy lost approximately R161 million due to work stoppages in 2016 compared to R116 million in 2015,” he said.

Mafata said the strike information analysed is based on the information supplied by employers in the Labour Relations Act (LRA) forms after strike incidents ended in workplaces.

“The strike report remains a useful piece of up-to-date information for various stakeholders including government departments, unions, employers, business, international organisations, research institutes, NGOs and students.

“The report provides a detailed account of companies affected by work stoppages and disaggregates information by province, duration, industries, nature and reasons of strikes,” Mafata said.

Mafata said the report still emphasises the Labour Minister’s concerns around the logic of pursuing strike action to the point where it damages workers’ interests.

“Either way, South Africa needs to find a solution for the seemingly faltering bargaining structure. Government, unions and business have an important role to play in order to maintain a stable labour force and fair labour practices that will attract investors and inspire economic growth in the long run,” Mafata said.

2016 Annual Industrial Action Report highlights

More work stoppages were experienced during “strike season”, which is the second and third quarters of the year. More strikes during this period resulted in more work days lost.

By nature of strikes, “strikes in company only” were predominantly higher, contributing to 56% of strikes which took place in 2016. This was followed by those workers who were locked-out at 26%.

Most of the work stoppages were due to wages, bonus and other compensation demands.

The time-loss ratio was at 59 working days lost per 1 000 employees.

A total of 7.6 million working hours were lost in 2016 compared to a total 8.2 million in 2015.

There were 90 228 workers involved in labour disputes in 2016, the lowest figure since strike records captured in 2013.

Of the nine provinces in the country, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, with relatively high performance economic activities, had experienced more strikes in all the four quarters of 2016.

By industry, the community industry was highly affected by strike incidents followed by the manufacturing and transport industries in 2016.

Establishments with more than 1 000 employees were mostly affected by industrial action during quarter two and three of 2016 at 41 and 40% respectively.

As reported by the Labour Research Services, the median wage settlement from various industries in 2016 was close to 8% compared to 7.4% in 2015.

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