Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

2 July 2014

South Africa: Numsa Strike - It Is About Politics, Stupid!

Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht/Sapa
Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa march for better wages in Cape Town.

analysis

Trust Zwelinzima Vavi to tell it like it is. "A demand for a living wage is political, because it is politics that allowed such conditions 20 years into a democracy," the Cosatu general secretary said, addressing striking metal workers in Johannesburg on Tuesday. The Numsa strike is complicated as it is not just about wage demands, and therefore reaching a settlement is more than a numbers game. Numsa says the strike is not about "economic sabotage" but its critics claim this is a show of force to open the way for its political agenda. Government is therefore eager that the plug be pulled on the strike before Irvin Jim gets into his stride.

If ever there was a strike that has caused jitters, it is the current one by 220,000 members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) in the metal and engineering sector. It is not only the fact that it takes place so soon after the five-month platinum strike that battered the economy, but also because it involves the militant Numsa, which is quite clearly baying for a big fight.

Numsa has had a big run-up to the strike, including being at...

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