South Africa: For Sustainable Labour Relations, Give Workers Directors' Board Representation

opinion

There is no reason employees should be regarded as outsiders when the future of a company is at stake. They should be brought around the directors' table to be part of the solution. Then unions must pay the salaries of striking employees. This would sober everybody up.

The suicidal and costly strike at South African Airways shows the limitations of the power of trade unions in the current employment dispensation. But, more importantly, it shows more vividly the limitations of South Africa's labour regulations to foster a sustainable, accountable and more cordial labour relations.

A more sustainable labour relations regime would make employees feel they are part of the business, and partners with both management and the shareholders, all in the service of the customer. This would also end the violence against employers, non-striking employees, and the general destruction of property during strike action.

But workers can only feel they are part of the business when they are part of the decision-making process at the highest level, which is not the case in corporate South Africa. Let's take the large businesses, be it the mining houses on whose back the economy was built, or the large state-owned enterprises that employ...

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