Johannesburg - The strike problem in the country can be solved by bringing more democracy into the workplace, the Cape Chamber of Commerce said on Friday.

“Workers are the ones who lose their pay when they go on strike so they should be given a better opportunity to express their views,” chamber president Janine Myburgh said in a statement.

This could be done by allowing workers to take part in a secret ballot before a strike begins.

She said there was reason to question whether union bosses accurately reflected the views of their members.

“The level of violence and intimidation that accompanies most of our strikes suggests that they do not have the popular support claimed and that most of the pressure comes from a small minority of workers.”

Myburgh said business, unions and the department of labour had agreed at the National Economic Development and Labour Council that a strike ballot was needed.

However, this requirement was dropped by Parliament when the legislation came before it, without a proper explanation.

“Strike ballots are used in many democratic countries and they have proved to be very successful.

“Not only does it give company bosses a better understanding of their workers' feelings, but it is also a check on the power games that get played in some unions,” she said.

The chamber supported taking legal action against unions for damages suffered by business during strikes, demonstrations and picketing.

Company bosses and unions should be held accountable for excesses. - Sapa