Why violent strikes?

I’m not privy to the inside story on the strikes experienced in the fruit sector recently. According to what I’ve read, Dutoit Group in the Western Cape and Umbhaba Bananas in Mpumalanga have been at the forefront of the current wave.

Allowing for a touch of sensationalism from the media, the strikes involved violence and intimidation and one wonders what is really behind them.

Both farming groups are leaders in their sectors, which invites the obvious question: why are they being targeted? My experience with large farming operations around South Africa is that they treat their workers very well. In fact, most farmers treat their workers well; the public only hears about the minority who do not.

I’m not suggesting all is rosy in agriculture – there’s always room for improvement – but when it comes to these targeted farming groups, it’s clear there is more to these strikes than an argy-bargy over pay increases.

Politics?

We all know there’s a nasty tussle between the ANC and the DA for control of the Western Cape. Do these disruptive strikes in a major fruit-exporting sector have anything to do with it? Never mind the merits of a case; when the strikers are allowed (and encouraged?) by their leaders to go on the rampage, then one can only conclude that they want to make the region ungovernable.

In particular, I find the destruction of property that seems to go hand in hand with strikes appalling and self-defeating. The Dutoit Group suffered severe damage to property some time ago. Why? What does destroying the source of one’s livelihood have to do with better wages?

Rights and responsibilities

I have no problem with a person’s constitutional right to strike in a legal way. I have a serious problem when that same person decides to go on a spree of destruction to apparently make a point. I have a further problem when the political and trade union leadership by and large say nothing to condemn these illegal actions.

Yes, on the odd occasion some leader will mumble something about the destructive behaviour and violence, but mostly they stay silent on the issue. Surely this implies approval?

The Constitution applies equally to every citizen. It does not grant anyone the right to abuse the rights of others.