Over 10 million work days lost to industrial action in 2014

SEPTEMBER 17, 2015

While there were fewer strikes at workplaces in 2014, the amount of work days lost was way worse than in 2013, this is according to the 2014 Annual Industrial Action Report released by the Department of Labour on Thursday.

According to the report, last year, the country saw only 88 incidents of industrial action – down from 114 in 2013 and 99 in 2012. While fewer workers, around 118 566, were part of the strikes, they were more protracted resulting in many working days and hours lost – around 10 264 775 work days.

In comparison only 1 847 006 work days were lost in 2013. This is a jump of about 455.7%.

“The increase in 2014 is explained by the strike duration in the mining industry while in 2013, it was due to more workers being involved in strikes than in 2014,” the Department of Labour explained in a statement.

Of the 88 strikes last year, only 52% were protected while in 2013 the same percentage was unprotected.

The most labour unrest was recorded in the Community, social and personal services industry followed by the manufacturing sector.

Very few strikes were recorded in the Finance and Utilities industries.

“Wages, bonus and other compensation disputes remain the main reason for stoppages in 2014 – at 98.4% of working days lost,” the Department of Labour said.

It said that more working hours were lost in 2014 compared to 2013 as a result of industrial disputes.

“Hours lost increased by 608.6% from 2013 to 2014. In the past five years, the working hours lost was highest in 2010 and lowest in 2009,” said the Department.

“Regarding impact on the economy in 2014, about R6.1 billion in wages were lost due to strike as compared to R6.7 billion in 2013. This represents a decrease of 8.25%.”

The North West and Limpopo provinces were the worst affected by the strikes at 46.3% and 37.4% respectively.

“In many industries, wage settlements were lower than the initial demands by unions.”

The trade union accounting for more work days lost in 2014 was AMCU (92.2%), followed by NUMSA (2.59%) and NUM (1.4%).

“[This is] unlike in 2013 where SATAWU had more members participating in strikes and more working days lost.”

In terms of duration, in 2014, the average strike lasted for 16-20 days unlike in 2013, when the average was 1-5 days.

“On the other hand, strike incidents were mostly recorded from companies’ of less than 49 employees in 2014,” the Department said.

“This is the same trend as in 2013.”

By nature of work, the Department of Labour said that in 2014, out of the 88 strikes, most were “strikes in companies only” at 50% and “lock out strikes” amounting to 29.5%.

Read the full report HERE.

Image: WSJ.