Johannesburg - Strikes in the mining industry over the past few years have increased and are lasting longer, labour relations expert Andrew Levy said on Wednesday.
“While strikes are increasing at a reasonably gentle rate, the workdays (lost) are going up quite steeply,” he told the Mining Lekgotla in Johannesburg.
“That indicates that strikes are becoming bigger and strikes are becoming longer.”
Levy said there had been a “very rapid” rise in strike action in the country in the past two or three years, describing this as a sustained and steady growth in strikes.
“Based on the information we should expect more strikes in the future.”
He said strikes from 1995 to 2012 were studied.
In the beginning there was a decline, but 2003 and 2004 showed an increase.
This had become a continuous rise.
Strike-related events in Marikana in August last year didn’t necessarily have an impact on the rise.
Forty-four people were killed during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West, last year.
On August 16, 2012, police shot dead 34 people, almost all striking mineworkers, while trying to disperse and disarm them. Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.
Levy said there had also been a rise in strike-related violence.
“The biggest concern I think everybody has is the obvious increase in violence, destruction of property... and that grossly mars the constitutional right to strike.”
Levy said labour negotiations were not being managed properly which led to strikes.
Government needed to act and negotiate with unions to avoid strikes. Changes to the Labour Relations Act were also needed to remedy the situation, Levy said.
“I want to see the return of bargaining in good faith. I think the bargaining that we are seeing now is clearly not in good faith,” said Levy.
“Unless we see some kind of labour reform, I don’t see any necessary change in our labour environment.”
As the lekgotla continued in the Sandton Convention Centre, about 20 Economic Freedom Fighters gathered outside the centre singing struggle songs with posters in hand. - Sapa