How we honed violent protests: iLIVE
Violence and intimidation during strikes has been a significant issue in the labour market for the last 10 years.
Both the government and employers have condoned such activities and have not pushed for the full extent of the law to deal with this kind of behaviour.
What has unfolded over the past few weeks at the platinum mines is a direct result of not dealing with the issues as they arose.
Violence has been a common occurrence at mines well before the Marikana incident . However, we might well regard Marikana as a flash point, a sad example of just how chaotic is our labour market.
We have seenlarge industrial strikes in which a number of people have been injured and killed.
The question is: what have the police done in these past incidents to bring to book the people who were responsible for intimidation and murder?
If one reviews the past 10 years, one will see very few people were charged and prosecuted.
Furthermore, very few resources were deployed to ensure that violent and riotous behaviour had no place in our democracy.
What is worse is that the government knows violence and intimidation in strikes is a problem.
At the Nedlac negotiations in 2011, legislation was proposed that would control and condemn the use of violence in strikes.
The most obvious proposal, which is internationally recognised, is that strikers would no longer enjoy protection if they engaged in violent activities.
There was huge opposition to this proposal and others, and the government has relented on most of its recommendations.
Research has found that one of the most common features of strikes worldwide is that most employees would like to go to work peacefully and continue to do their jobs.
A small minority use violence to influence employees - who would ordinarily want to go to work - not to go to work.
It is my opinion that this is exactly what is happening on the mines.
Most people are prepared to conduct themselves in an orderly fashion and abide by agreements. There are only a few people who use violence to get their way.
Violence and intimidation is against the constitution, but the lax attitude towards it has fractured our labour laws .
The principle of one union per workplace needs to be shored.
Rivalry in unions today is about membership and fees, and fees equal a business.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, or Amcu, boasts around 30000 members, and membership fees provide healthy monthly earnings. Unions are a lucrative business.
To some extent we have lost the ability to account for workers' monies and have workers' interests solely at the centre of the debate, which is really the founding principle of a trade union.