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South African Labour issues

We now sit with the possibility that the wage impasse is well, passed. Which is good news, although early signs are that some unions have rejected the offer in its current format, a 7.5 percent annual increase and a housing allowance of 800 Rands a month. But most are considering it. Remember that the unions have come down to a 8.6 percent wage increase demand, plus a 1000 Rand a month housing allowance. This is governments best step forward thus far and a downright rejection has not happened.

A friend of mine who is well studied in matters economic (and by function political too) said something that kind of stuck with me. I am a firm believer that a fish rots from the head he said. Quite. Me too. And what we are referring to is the current wage hikes that the tax payer will have to bear the brunt of down the line.

And the questions raised about those high up in government seemingly "living the life". How do you tell a government clerk of sorts that there is no money when ministers splash millions of Rands on luxury vehicles and hotel stays, but sorry, we can't afford to give you a decent living wage.

And remember that in my mind anyhow, and many a political and economics commentator, this current wage dispute is less about the actual number, but rather the politics of it all. Zwelinzima Vavi, should these demands be closed in on, will have strengthened his hand significantly.

It is astonishing that both left and right of government will agree on many things about what is "not right" in government at the moment. We wait, apparently unions will return to government as early as this afternoon on whether this current offer is good enough. Otherwise expect even a stronger show of force, as sympathy strikes in the form of NUM and the like take place.

In fact the National Union of Metal Workers, which claims 232 thousand members and says that they are the second biggest union in South Africa. I believe them you know. All the member affiliated folks are about to go on strike because their demands for a 15 percent increase have not been met. And you might have heard about the petrol pump attendants, who are affiliated with NUMSA. So, whilst the government employees are on strike, so the metal workers will embark on a strike too. Makes business feel a little down.

There is another interesting piece, this time in the Business Day about corruption specifically, and the writer, human rights activist Rhoda Kadalie holds no punches. She is scathing of government in this piece, yech, and paints a short term ugly picture of what is happening out there, check this out: Creeping anarchy as the centre fails to hold. This is the lack of accountability and the creep (creepy) of it all, rather than the rush of it all.

We wait until this afternoon.