Unions' interests are not above those of the country - Times LIVE
   
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Unions' interests are not above those of the country

The Times Editorial | 2012-08-15 00:16:54.0

The Times Editorial: The continuing deadly strike at Lonmin platinum mine, the world's third- largest platinum producer, has exposed the fault lines in our labour union movement.

The right to organise workers across all sectors of the economy is becoming difficult as jobs continue to be lost.

So far South Africa has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and the mining sector tops the list. The mine's share price dropped almost 5% in London and 4% in Johannesburg yesterday after the owners decided to halt all its operations.

The ongoing clashes between the National Union of Mineworkers and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union at the mine in Marikana, in North West, comes at a time when the sector is grappling with declining world prices for its precious metal.

This battle, which has so far claimed about nine lives, including those of two police officers, is about the capitalist approach unions have adopted to keep their coffers full. The right to organise and negotiate on behalf of workers comes at a price but it also carries with it a sizeable profit if the union has big numbers.

Since AMCU started recruiting workers at the mine allegations have surfaced that all kinds of underhand tactics are being used by both unions to gain the upper hand.

As the standoff between the two unions' members continues, South Africa's image is being tarnished for foreign investors who are influenced by a country's level of economic stability. With the international press having picked up on the story, our economy and the image of the country is being rubbished.

Now that the police have moved on to the mine to try to restore law and order, both unions should be forced to the table and told that their interests are not above those of the country.

The right to organise workers comes with constitutional responsibilities.

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