MEC urges unions to work with management

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Durban - KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Mike Mabuyakhulu has urged labour unions to work closely with management during the global economic downturn.

"Government is aware that labour faces the toughest time in this period of recession because continued job losses creates not only social and economic hardship but also it leads to psychological and emotional stress.

"We therefore believe that the unions have to work more closely with the management in tough economic times," said Mr Mabuyakhulu.

He was addressing delegates on Thursday during the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Recovery and Jobs Summit in Durban. The theme for the summit is: Roadmap towards economic recovery.

Mr Mabuyakhulu said both unions and management must work hard to reduce counter productive engagements among workers and business management to avoid uncertainty. 

"We believe that both parties must work hard to avoid job losses by coming up with arrangements such as short working days, half working days, unpaid leave, extended education and training leave, among others," said MEC Mabuyakhulu.

The MEC said labour, however, must be considerate in its decisions and ensure that unions carefully assess all actions that maybe critical to getting the economy out of the recession quicker.

"We believe that in order for this partnership to work, it should be a process of give and take. Therefore, much like labour, the business community has a responsibility to open the avenues of communication and constantly inform the workers if a company is facing economic difficulties.

"The effect of the economic situation becomes more bearable for workers when they have been kept abreast of all attempts to rescue the company," said MEC Mabuyakhulu.

Trade union federation, COSATU Provincial Secretary Zet Luzipho said they were looking to partner with management and hoped they would find a common ground in finding the ways of preventing the job losses among the workers in the province during this time of recession.

"We also committing ourselves to work together with the management and the government in order to find solutions in the different problems that the workers are facing in this difficult time, said Mr Luzipho.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday government and unions partnered to form a Ministerial Strategic Team to deal with service delivery challenges and wage negotiations, among others things. 

The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) will form part of the newly established Ministerial Strategic Team.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka said the team will play a lead role in avoiding the conflict between the employer, labour unions and the community, while addressing the root causes of the prevailing challenges.

"We have taken this initiative because we believe that for workers to accelerate good quality services to the masses in local government they must be a good working relationship between the employer body and the labour unions.

"The challenges faced by our municipalities need a collective approach as government alone cannot resolve these issues. 

"In this way, we want to work together in pursuit of strategic repositioning of municipalities in order to respond to these prevailing challenges," he said. 

The team will also comprise of members from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), National Treasury, Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs as well as the Department of Public Service and Administration.