Strike occurrence increased significantly in 2012 when compared to figures of the past four years, according to figures released by the labour department yesterday.
The Labour department report also noted a marked increase in violence and unprotected strikes in 2012, a year that will be remembered for the Marikana Massacre where 34 mine workers were killed killed by police gunfire.
Commenting on the report the Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant said “Let me take this opportunity first and foremost and condemn violence in any industrial action. Violence has no place in our society whose foundation as democracy is based on intensive social dialogue. Nothing yet has proven to work better than the ability to negotiate and reach consensus…”
The figures show that in 2012 South Africa recorded a total of 99 strike incidents compared to 67 in 2011, 74 in 2010, 51 in 2009 and 57 in 2008.
Working days lost during 2012 amounted to 3 309 884 in 2012 involving 241 391 employees. This compares to 2 806 656 working days lost in 2011 involving 203 138 employees. In terms of wages lost, R6.6 billion was lost in wages of striking workers during 2012.
The figures also showed that 44% of the strikes recorded in 2012 were unprotected. The labour department statement said key features of industrial action during 2012 include the following:
· 57.5% of workers involved in strike action during 2012 were from the mining sector where a strike wave was experienced;
· Median wage settlement rate during 2012 as reported by Labour Research Services varied between 6.9% and 10%;
· Working days lost by industry were most prominent in mining (82.4%), followed by manufacturing (5.7%), community (4.1%) and agriculture (3.7%) during 2012;
· Wages, bonus and other compensation still remain the main reasons for work stoppages in South Africa;
· In 2012, most workers who were involved in the labour unrest were members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM);
According to the report Gauteng, continues to account for the largest number of work stoppages. Gauteng experienced 42 strikes in 2012, up from the 33 in 2011. This presents an increase of 27.3% from 2011.
The statement said the COSATU stay-away and protest march in Gauteng against the implementation of the e-tolling had a major impact on the province although this was not a strike, but a protest action.
The Northern Cape, one of the smallest provinces in relation to economic output, continues to record fewer strikes than other provinces.