The labour debate continues

Johan van Zyl, Gordon’s Bay

Returning home from a visit to Somerset West, I passed some newspaper billboards at the side of the road containing headlines which all virtually translate to “More jobs lost”.

It set me thinking once again about the inevitability of labour protests discouraging prospective employers to make jobs available.

I am also sure that this contributes to entrepreneurs making use of mechanisation as a means of increasing production and raising profits.

When I watch robots assembling motorcars in a factory, I cannot help thinking that those tasks could otherwise have been done adequately well by skilled and dedicated workers.

Of course the machine can do it better and faster and without tiring, and I realise that many of those tasks are of a repetitive nature and might prove frustrating to many jobseekers.

But a job is a precious possession in a struggling economy, and it is better than having to sit on the street in a much more frustrating situation, wondering where your next meal is coming from.

But it seems to me that the labour unions are habitually disregarding the “threat” of mechanisation and they continue to discourage employers with mass protest actions.

Punishing labour legislation has not helped one iota.

Government is faced with the plight of millions of jobless people, together with a burgeoning population impacting on our struggling economy.

These two factors make a disasterous combination, and I’m not seeing the leadership addressing this dilemma.

I’m not saying workers should not be free to protest when necessary.

But to embark on the kind of action that led to Marikana can under no stretch of the imagination have the possibility of a satisfactory end result.

The same holds true for the actions that led to the burning down of schools, or to the destruction of railway carriages.

These acts of wanton vandalism are viewed as unforseen, unintended, not committed by members.

But to organise hordes of disgruntled people to march down public streets in a show of righteous protest against a mining body, municipality or whatever, is to open the door for criminal elements to wreak considerable havoc, eluding detection in the crowds as a bonus.

I’m thinking it is a far better idea to rather discontinue rolling mass action in favour of negotiation and open public debate to try to right the injustices of society.

This will not only contribute to the preservation of our precious infrastructure and allow the resources of the police to be available for crime prevention, but it will also set a better example for the youth of our country to follow.