South Africa: Releasing the Prisoners From Their Dilemma - How to Resolve Labour Tensions in South Africa's Mining Sector

document

SAIIA Policy Briefing 81, December 2013

On 16 August 2012 South Africa was thrown into tumult as police opened fire with live ammunition on a crowd of striking mineworkers at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine, killing 34 people.

The policy briefing examines the institutional factors that contributed to this tragedy and that remain in urgent need of reform. It argues that current institutional arrangements - especially labour legislation - create strong incentives for rival unions to value violence over co-operation.

An effective prisoners' dilemma (PD) exists. Mining companies simply cannot afford to offer the kind of wage increases that are being demanded.

Competing unions refuse to temper their demands, as they cannot risk being seen as weaker than the other for credibility's sake. For mining firms and unions to revise their dominant strategies, a number of policy interventions are required to transform the PD into an assurance game (AG). The latter requires a focal point around which stakeholders can converge.

The briefing proposes that a strengthening of the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to punish illegal or violent strikes by removing an offending union's bargaining rights may constitute such a focal point.

It also offers a number of other key recommendations to prevent further labour unrest and consequent mining industry decline in South Africa.

Download - English (258.39 kB)

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2014 South African Institute of International Affairs. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.