Thursday, February 02, 2006

South African Privatization Struggle

Who Will Blink First?
Business Day (Johannesburg)

THIS week's strike by the main four trade unions at Transnet is a new and important test for the relationship between government and labour. Critically, it will show just how firm government is prepared to stand on its new economic strategy in the face of intense trade union opposition.

Tension between government and labour over Transnet is nothing new. It's been going on for more than a decade, ever since government first decided to pursue a privatisation strategy, to which labour vehemently objected. These objections were based on a wide range of issues, both ideological and practical, but at the heart of the matter they were about jobs. International experience showed privatisation of a big state asset inevitably led to job losses as new private operators sought to streamline operations and improve profitability.


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