Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM – 07 July 2009 – South Africa’s powerful trade unions “’ including mine workers “’ will continue to escalate strike action, endangering key sectors in an economy already in recession, unless President Jacob Zuma’s government meets demands for pro-poor policies.
Reuters reports that increased strike action from unions under the COSATU labour federation is a sign they are starting to force their agenda in Africa’s biggest economy in the absence of a strong stand by Zuma.
Gold miners and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) “’ which has vowed to strike if pay demands are not met “’ meet today for key wage talks, while unions in the platinum, chemical, paper and petroleum sectors have also warned of strikes. COSATU has threatened national strikes.
“There is potential for this to escalate,” said Mike Davies, Middle East and Africa analyst at Eurasia Group. “There will be areas of tension that will develop, not only over strikes but a broader tension is likely to arise between the unions and the alliance partners,” Davies added
COSATU has backed a call by the ANC’s militant youth wing for mines to be nationalised “’ a thorny issue in a country which is the world’s biggest platinum producer and no. 3 gold producer.
“The news is clearly worrying. There is some struggle within the ANC alliance to change policy direction, for payback of what the left sees as its dues for getting Zuma to power,” said Peter Attard Montalto, emerging markets economist at Nomura in London.
In the latest strike action, nearly 70 000 construction workers will down tools tomorrow over wages, which could halt work on stadiums for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Unions at state broadcaster SABC will also strike this week, raising the possibility of a nationwide television blackout for the first time since television arrived in South Africa three decades ago.