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Unions in general.

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It has come to my attention that Unions are really passive, passive to the point where there is n longer any transparency between member and union. When you sign-up with a union you believe you are protected against abuse but are you?

My research states no. There are large companies in South Africa that still have no union representation at all. This is indeed interesting considering that it is within in our constitution that we have a right to be a member of a union.

Exercising these rights are not as simple because “some” companies simply state that “unofficial benefits” will be lost if a union is instated.

Then the biggest loss “in my opinion” is the labour broker phenomena that infected almost every workforce in South Africa. Again the unions proofed powerless to stop labour brokers from “taking over” and indeed control employment, where an employee can once again be “replaced” for no reason at all.

Unions to a point proofed to be powerless as strikes are ineffective and rendered useless by law and government. A classic case and point would be our only provider of electricity; people may strike as long as they are working in “none critical” arias. Thus they are still able to produce power regardless of a strike and in turn they have virtually no losses as their contracts are honoured.

So the biggest question of all now looms over unions; can they still protect their members?
Are seemingly “reasonable” strike procedures really that reasonable?
Why do large companies have the ability to keep unions away?
Do unions still have power?

These questions are not to be taken lightly because it will affect the labour community directly. More to the point is the fact that many workers in South Africa have no protection at all.

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  1. Dave A's Avatar
    "In my opinion" I think it is unions and labour regulation overstepping the "reasonable" mark that has led to the increasing popularity of labour brokers with business. If a business could hire and fire as easily as the labour brokers seem to be able to do it, why would a business want to incur the additional cost of a labour broker?

    Looking at the state of the unions themselves, I think their problems of late is they've been burning up their goodwill with their members trying to play a power game that is for the benefit of the union leaders more than the member workers themselves. Of course those leaders say that what's good for them is good for their members too - but is that really true?
  2. tec0's Avatar
    Yes indeed, why does one need labour brokers? Fact is there are many ways to fire a bad worker and get a good worker. But my problem is with the unions not enabling “good standing” with companies and at the same time they ignore their members. Basically the unions will only deal with a case if it benefits them to do so. This can be financial and or media exposure.

    They are not what they claim to be. Fact is unions can only fight a case if “rules” where broken same as everything else. If an employer plays within the rules a union is about as useful as a blindfold in a coffin.

    I think that employees must rethink their strategies and employers must empower themselves. Equality by education is a start forcing town bylaws are counterproductive. If companies start petitioning against the bylaws that will help and it will open the door to negotiations.

    The key is communication, moral standing and education. With these three relatively simple systems we can start to build a future again. Right now we are just tearing each other down and in the end if nothing can float then everything will sink...