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Why Strikes would be less frequent in an Open Opportunity Society July 17, 2011

Posted by cmfry in DA, Politics.
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Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyp...

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This past 2 weeks, South Africa has been subject to yet another striker season. In a previous post, I outlined how the use of violence has highlighted the need for greater synergy in the South African market place. This is all to clear, as this the National Employer’s Association of South Africa (NEASA) has now turned to the courts, and have gained and interdict against striking workers to prevent any further damage to property.

Now, as stated earlier, synergy exists in its purest form when effective collaboration happens. Dr. Tim Stagich, in his book , “Collaborative Leadership and Global Transformation”, has noted that the foundations for effective collaboration between any parties would be:

  • Reciprocal benefit (where all parties are advantaged from any decision made)
  • A Healthy respect for one another
  • An Appreciation of diverse contributions to be made 
  • A shared understanding of how these values work in a collaborative process

The absence of these values in the present situation, and to a large extent in many of our communities,  is painfully clear. I would venture to guess that one of  the main reasons that the workers would put forward for the strike would be that they feel that they have lost a significant amount of dignity, through a continuous erroding of resources (Money, power, etc) which has critically eroded their opportunity to maximise their own potential.

But what if we create the platform for them to do just that? What if we create a sustainable environment for people to interact with one another in a collaborative, synergistic way in a way that only South Africans can?

The Open Opportunity Society for All notes three concepts that are critical to creating a sustainable environment for the individual to maximise their potential. They are:

  • Individual Freedom under the rule of law
  • Opportunity with responsibility
  • Full equality for all

Once we have a society where these 3 factors are present, the right to human dignity will become entrenched, and from that space of human dignity, a healthy respect for one another, an apppreciation of divergent views and how these values can work in a collaborative way can be achieved. This, then would form the basis for the transformation of our society into one where the quest for reciprocal benefit would be sustainable. Furthermore, once a lasting sense of  human dignity is achieved, a deeper commitment to achieving a collaborative society is generated.   

A classic example of this technique, as quoted by Stagich in his book, is the peace agreement between Egypt (under Anwar Sadat) and Israel (with Menachem Begin as prime minister) with former US president Jimmy Carter as facilitator. The process moved toward a general understanding between the two parties once a mutual respect was built. This led to differences being transcended, and ultimately, a peace accord signed.

For more on the Open, Opportunity Society, please see a short policy platform here.

In closing, the quest for achieving this level of cooperation will not subvert or diminish the right to strike, neither should  it superceded any right of any individual. However, once we, as a South African society, can learn to resolve our differences without using the tactics of the past, we will truly be on the path to acheiving an even deeper level of greatness than we already have.

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Strikes and Synergy July 12, 2011

Posted by cmfry in Politics.
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National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

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South Africa is dealing with yet another strike season. This time around, it is the National Union of Metal Workers (NUMSA) who have led the cause, and are into the second week of the industrial action. They are asking for increases of 10-13%, while employers are offering an average of 7%.

The right to strike is one of the many rights that were part of the overall struggle against apartheid, and no one would deny any worker’s right to strike, provided it is within the confines of the law. However, as outlined by ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete, when the strike trun violent, and in some cases, even deadly, then they lose not only the point of the action, but also the sentiment of the public in supporting their right to the action.

Now one could add that the violence associated with strike can be traced back to the armed struggle and the violent uprisings that marred the 80’s in this country.

The violence, however, highlights a greater divide within the South African workplace. It is alarmingly clear that there is virtually no synergy between employer bodies and trade unions in this country. Moreover, there is precious little desire on both sides to create synergy in this most vital of partnerships. And Synergy, is exactly what we need in the current market conditions. Without it, the South African workplace will not realise the potential that lies within.

So, just how do we create that Synergy? Your comments welcome…