South Africa should invest in improving workers’ economic literacy to strengthen the country’s labour relations, an analyst said on Thursday.
“One of the things that is a by-product of 15 to 20 years of Cosatu’s view of the world is that employees do not believe a single word that management says,” labour economist Andrew Levy told a Bureau for Economic Research conference in Johannesburg.
“They [workers] also have no understanding whatsoever that a 60% increase is not obtainable. In fact it is bad negotiation. Because you are going to have to make the biggest move down from 60% to an area where there is a reasonable view of settlement – 8% to 9%.”
He said workers needed to understand the economic context within which their companies operated. This would better inform their wage demands.
“The price for not changing is that the currency will continue to slide, unemployment will continue unabated, violence will remain with us. This is the price that South Africans should not have to pay.
“We are at war with unemployment. This is the time for common sense and determination.”
The National Union of Mineworkers recently announced it would seek wage increases of between 15% and 60% from mining companies.