Eish!!: Do the strikers know what they are striking for?

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Do the strikers know what they are striking for?

Probably the longest title for an Eish!! post so far, but I couldn't come up with a shorter one.

For the sake of the readers outside of South Africa, we have been experiencing a civil servants general strike since Friday. They are demanding a 12% pay increase, the government are offering 6.5% (up from the original offer of 6%). Although our government have been at pains to assure us that their offer is actually quite a bit higher than then 6.5% as they have also offered various better additional perks and subsidies like medical aid upgrades etc.

Naturally the newspapers and talk (& music) radio stations have been abuzz with comment regarding the strike. One thing has stood out for me, however, and herein lies both the problem and potentially the solution. All those that have been sympathetic to the strike have quoted the "low" salaries paid to teachers, police men and women and nurses. I have yet to hear someone call in and say "I know this clerk in Home Affairs. He only gets paid R uvwx.yz a month for all the work they have to do."

The government have said that they are to substantially increase the packages offered to those professions mentioned above as well as others identified as been currently under resourced and difficult attract personnel, architects and civil engineers been two vocations I recall being mentioned.

So, in my opinion, these guys are striking over a battle they have actually already won. They are actually fighting for their colleagues (I use this term extremely loosely) in those areas which actually do not deserve even the 6% been put on the table. I mean, unless you have made onto the top scorers list in Tetris of course ;-)

Surely, what they should be doing is petitioning their Union representatives, whether or not they are aligned to COSATU, to negotiate increases and conditions of service specifically for their professions. Why do they want to be bundled in with all the other schmucks? There is no way that this can be beneficial for them. Think about it. A nurse, who we all seem to agree is not paid sufficiently, gets the 12% she so desperately wants. However the Tetris champion gets his 12% as well. What nett gain has the nurse actually got in the greater scheme of things? Not much in my opinion.

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Hey Eishman,

Thanks for visiting me, this is my courtesy visit after you posted a comment on my blog on the same issue.

I think the workers need to take charge of their own individual careers and rather fight a more defined battle...else we are gonna see more and more strikes every year...

Nice post, not something i had considered.
However i respectfully disagree. Simply put there are 2 issues here; 1 is payment and 2 control.
The strike is about payment, which i think everybody agrees is pathetic. The issue of control, and rewarding good work, is a similar but seperate issue. While the state has made some small gestures, paying basic bills is not something that govt staff should have to worry about. More to the point, if money is an issue, lets bring the MP's down to this level that they are offering, if the govt truly believes in the fairness of the offer, they should have no objection.

Thanks for popping by Pitso, I will certainly be making 'Thinking Aloud' a regular stop in my web travels.

Abraxas, I really appreciate the respectful disagreement. You make a strong point, that's the beauty of 'new media' isn't it? Our opinions are shareable and can be heard/read/viewed.
My perspective is that anything other than an inflation based increase needs be motivated by some sort of productivity, market and/or responsibility scale.
After all surely the level of remuneration and consequent standard of living is what the employee would have agreed to be acceptable at the time of entering the civil service?

Hey sharing ideas rules!!!!!
You hit the nail with the statement regarding "inflation based increase". Now even parliment agrees with you there, they recently awarded themselves 12% to keep up with inflation.
The govt staff have been tied to an effective 3% per annum for the last 3 years, with the govt trying to tie them down for another 5 years to 6.5%. Now this is completely unacceptable, something that will only further impoverish teachers nurses and so on.
With petrol getting more expensive by the day, and credit lending rates increasing, and petrol getting more expensive daily, surely the govt realises it has to support it's staff.
Once you have security, then performance based accounting can be implemented, but while people cannot afford the basics, they will never be overly enthusiastic about giving their best.

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