There has to be a better, less expensive way for employers and employees to resolve disputes without workers resorting to strike action. It has simply become too costly for individual workers who down tools over mainly wage-related demands, with some taking more than seven years to recover from the impact financially. The Department of Labour’s Industrial Action report has shown once more that there are no winners when workers head for the picket line, but the biggest loser is labour. In 2017 workers lost R251m in wages, compared with R161m in 2016, a 56% increase. Among the workers who take to the streets to express their dissatisfaction are the country’s majority working poor, who earn less than R3,500 a month and have few assets or savings. Industrial action also has costly consequences for the economy and affected businesses. A total of 960,889 man days, the most time yet, was lost to strike action in 2017, and because the law prohibits employers from hiring casual labour, produ...

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