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27 August 2010

Why strike when you can vote?

If you don't like working for this government, use your vote and choose another, says Joanne Hart.

If you don't like working for this government, use your vote and choose another, says Joanne Hart.

By now most South Africans are wondering if the current wave of strikes probably has anything to do with money, or whether it's all about power.  If so, I'm not convinced that it's the kind of power that will be used to do anyone any good. 

I know that there are casualties in any struggle, but that used to mean that the protagonists were laying themselves on the line for a cause.  Peaceniks braved bullets to put flowers in gun-barrels, anti-nuclear demonstrators held hands and sang in the face of armed soldiers, people carried placards across no-man's-land strips all over the world, people were prepared to be imprisoned rather than back down on something they believed in, and some of those prisoners went on hunger strikes to highlight their message.  The salient feature running through all those actions:  I believe in something enough to give up everything. 

What makes the action we’re experiencing now smell so foul is that the casualties are not volunteers – they are the ill and the helpless.  Pre-term babies and post-op patients are not acceptable losses - they're hostages to a cause that has nothing to do with them.  Basically the mantra appears to have changed:  I believe in something enough to take everything from someone else.

The same can be said for teachers, medical workers, the police services and the military – in fact pretty much anyone who goes on strike today (except for the notable exceptions of chain-store workers and mine workers).  Naturally, should the mines be nationalised, we would probably see mineworkers on strike within the year.

 
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