The strike has made me think a lot about the forces behind the strikes. I know the demands are for 14% and the employers are offering 7% but the fact of the matter is that the difference on a R4,000 salary is not so big.
Take into account the loss of wages for a week of striking and the outlook is pretty grim – the make up for the loss of wages on a 14% increase or a 7% increase is going to take months.
That is if the company the striker is working for actually survive the strike and does not have to close their doors because of the crippling damage.
When these issues of retrenchments or even closure of the company is raised with the employees they just shrug it off and say that they want what they want. What has happened to this great African cry of Ubuntu? Is that only to be used when it is convenient, or when they are at the receiving end of Ubuntu?
Is this strike really about salary increases and extra leave or is this strike to bring all the people, employees and employers back into line after the dismally poor results of the elections? I don’t know – do I see a Third Force where there is none?
I do have a lot of empathy for the people working in the Metal Industries – how they survive on R4,000 is beyond me but can’t they see that you can’t earn R50,000 a month when you are sweeping the workshop floor day after day. At a R4,000 salary the difference between 14% and 7% is R280 amonth. A guy on R4,000 has now already lost R1,000 just for this week of striking. Does it make any sense?
What scares me even more is that the Zimbabweans at my work place are laughing at the ignorance and the illiteracy of the young South Africans. I’m now talking about people that has been educated after 1994. Isn’t that part of the problem – there are promises and promises but in reality nothing much has changed for the poor people at ground roots level.
How do we change that. How do we get the government to see that the culture of taking has to stop and we have to educate all our people and that can be the change? We have to change the people’s attitude to stop expecting everybody else to look after them, to stop expecting everything for free to take responsibility for their actions.
20% of our population live in RDP houses! Where does this sense of entitlement come from – why should the government give you a house? Normally people has to work for a house and pay off a bond for the better part of their lives? How can the small 5% or so of tax payers keep on carrying this whole nation – surely sooner or later this is going to implode.
I think I’ve really been playing ostrich about this country but the mindless violence of yesterday has woken me up. Are we sitting on a ticking time bomb?