Workers urged to be financially prepared when taking part in strike action

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More than 40 000 Transnet workers have downed tools demanding a double-digit pay rise.

With the threats of more industrial action in the public sector, financial advisers are urging workers to be financially prepared when taking part in strikes.

Experts say it could take up to six years for striking workers to recover from the money lost during the few weeks of a stay away.

But adds that workers’ demands are justifiable as they are battling to cope with the high cost of living.

Many workers are embarking on strikes in a bid to force the employer to offer them a better salary increase that can beat inflation.

Strike action usually means a company can impose a no work no pay rule.

This is likely to hit hard on the pockets of many striking workers who are already battling to deal with the escalating costs of food, electricity and transport.

The current high interest rate environment has also put a strain on many households who are servicing debts such as home loans, car finance as well as unsecured debt.

But workers have been urged to be weary of the financial costs of the strike.

Financial Adviser at Bryan Hirsch Colley and Associates, Bryan Hirsch says, “Let’s say someone is earning R20 000 a month and for three months they don’t get a salary, that’s a loss of R60 000. If they do get, let’s say an 8% increase, that’s R1 600. It will take them 5-6 years to make up what they lost over this period of time.”

Union members in many developed countries have what is called the union’s strike fund to provide members with some financial support during industrial action.

Many South African labour unions don’t provide such assistance.

But the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) says it is considering a strike fund to ensure that its members get some money while they are on strike.

Satawu General-Secretary Jack Mazibuko explains: “Strike fund is something that comes from the union. Emanating from the subs [subscription fees] that members are paying. So, there is a portion of money that we will put aside to assist workers that are on strike. Because you know the strike it is no work no pay. Employees are losing salaries during the strike.”

Experts say that the longer the strike lasts the more it will become a financial burden on the workers.

They have called on striking workers to make arrangements with their creditors to defer payments during the industrial action.

Workers are also urged to have an emergency fund that they can dip into during the strike. 

Transnet strike

Meanwhile, talks to end the Transnet strike have deadlocked.

The talks continue to drag on with the unions demanding 12 percent and the company now offering a revised increase of between 4,5 and 5,3 percent.

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