2000

UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT

MEDIA RELEASE


 UDM VIEWS ON THE NATIONAL STRIKE

MEDIA STATEMENT ISSUED BY GERHARD KOORNHOF, MP
SPOKESPERSON FOR FINANCE

The UDM agrees wholeheartedly with the concerns of the Labour Movement, it is undeniably true that jobs are disappearing at a frightening and ever increasing rate.

However much we agree with the stated purpose of this strike, we cannot condone the method and the timing thereof. We can only ask why, if Cosatu saw no other avenue than striking, it did not choose to hold such a strike on Worker’s Day? It would make perfect sense to their members, without the sacrifice of a day’s salary and placing their livelihoods at risk. On another level it would not hurt the economy directly by sacrificing a working day. But perhaps most importantly, it would demonstrate to employers that Cosatu has the power to mobilise thousands of workers, and simultaneously, also has the constraint not to hurt the employers and the economy unnecessarily. This would have given Cosatu incredible leverage in the negotiations that must address these concerns.

Surely it is evident that a national strike will do massive damage to the economy, especially in the current context of a plunging Rand value and investor scepticism towards South Africa and the region.

We have called on numerous occasions for Cosatu, Business and Government to address these issues in the relevant forums, such as Nedlac. Let us not forget that Nedlac was created to address exactly these concerns that Cosatu now wish to address by striking. Strangely, we now hear Nedlac apologising, on the eve of this strike, for not addressing Labour concerns. Is this not proof enough that the forum created to avert unnecessary disruption in the economy has not been doing its job. This is a charge against all participants, including the Labour Movement. Surely there were, and are, more avenues of communication to be explored, before this confrontational step was taken.

Undoubtedly this step will widen the gulf between the different role-players. Cosatu needs to realise that no amount of good intention will remove the taint of blackmail from their action. This strike serves only to complicate the negotiations, which must of necessity occur for their concerns to be addressed.

Enquiries:
Dr. Gerhard Koornhof

Cape Town
10 May 2000