South Africa experienced less strikes last year compared to 2010, says the Department of Labour.
Last year, the department recorded a total of 67 work stoppages. This shows a slight decrease compared with 74 incidences in 2010.
Releasing the Industrial Action Report in Pretoria on Wednesday, Department of Labour director-general Nkosinathi Nhleko said the number of working days lost to work stoppages in 2011 also decreased to 2 806 656 compared with the 20 674 737 days lost in 2010.
According Nhleko, during the last five years the department had recorded an average of 65 strikes a year.
Asked what contributed to the reduction of strikes in the past year, Nhleko said this could be attributed to the absence of public servants strikes and perhaps better negotiation skills between the employers and employees.
"Causes of strikes remain the same in most instances and negotiation skills contribute to less strikes," he said.
In a bid to reduce strikes, Nhleko said the department would continue to call on employers and trade unions to sharpen their negotiation skills. He said in most instances the causes of strikes were wages, bonuses and other compensations. Other causes included working conditions, refusal to bargain, retrenchments, disciplinary matters, trade union recognition and grievances.
According to the department, in 2011, data indicated that more than half (52.3%) of the strikes lasted between six and ten days – up from 44.4% in the previous year. These were strikes involving the mining and manufacturing companies.
The longest recorded strike in 2011 involved Sam's Tissue Products and the Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union, which lasted for 67 days. The strike started on September 15, 2011, and was only resolved on January 9, 2012. About 4 898 workdays were lost during the strike action involving 79 workers.
Deputy director-general Les Kettledas explained that people resorted to strike action after failed negotiations. He also cited other factors such as an increase in food and transport prices.