Faced with an upsurge in violent strikes, employers mostly feel helpless to prevent or curb — let alone understand — what is going on. Likewise, many commentators might urge tougher steps against union leaders and more drastic action against the strikers, but are at a loss to explain the phenomenon of radically upscaled violence. A new book suggests that the answer lies in the complex nature of SA’s socioeconomic and political life. Written by seven labour law experts, Strikes and the Law probes the problem of violent strikes, among other related topics. Given that SA’s legal framework includes a variety of accessible ways to resolve labour disputes, there should be no room for violence in resolving such problems. But the reality is different. Media reports and labour court judgments often highlight intimidation and damage to property during strikes, escalating to looting and murder. Examining the explosive mix behind this problem, the authors list growing mistrust between union lea...

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