THERE is one common denominator in those countries where unions have a major stake in government.
The first is that the primary task for the rationale of any union is to look after its own members. If it doesn't, it faces criticism from its members who query the expense of paying dues with little return.
Thus pay increases outstrip productivity and force the closure of companies, with lost jobs for the workers.
This has been patent in South Africa as among others the footwear and clothing industry are examples. Fifty years ago there were about 30 shoe factories, now one can count the number on the fingers of one hand.
Then there is the fate of labour brokers who supply temporary employment and naturally are outside the union net. All over the world there are farmers who must have labour to plant, lift and package crops, there are offices where a secretary goes sick and an immediate replacement is required, and a 101 other examples.
This temporary work also helps a woman with a family who would like to make some money but does not want a permanent job.
The present outcry over labour brokers is being engineered by Cosatu by calling these people "slavers" and seeking legislation to outlaw them. Neither Cosatu nor the SACP has ever had to stand for a seat in parliament, yet they have strong representation in the cabinet.
Dr Joseph Goebbels would have been proud of this insidious propaganda which could well take in the man in the street, but where the outcome will without doubt increase unemployment to add to the existing vast numbers. The reason, of course, is that this is outside the bounds of Cosatu.
In Europe, for example, the picking of vines is done by machine.
Recently I read an article on growing carrots for the commercial market. After advising growers how to plant, it went on to lifting, washing and packaging the crop, saying "although this type of work is ideal for the unemployed, with all the hassle of labour laws it is simpler and easier to buy machines".
This says it all.
The tragedy for South Africa is that the unions were part of the liberation movement and thus want their pound of flesh. These laws were brought in by Tito Mboweni, and are the same that France and Germany, whose unemployment rate is double that of the UK, are saddled with .
When George Soros visited Thabo Mbeki he warned that "if you can't fire don't hire". Apparently Mbeki said he realised this was so, but did nothing about it.
The public of South Africa should be made aware that this danger to jobs is threatening and that it is going to increase the numbers of the workless enormously. Be warned.
When any government anywhere in the world has unions in seats of power it ultimately become a basket case of failure for all the inhabitants other than the politicians.
John Duncan, Plettenberg Bay