Unions can serve a useful function by ensuring that management does not abuse its employees but when they become too strong and militant they can abuse that position by holding the country hostage to their excessive demands.
Main picture: Earnings of train drivers as compared with other professions
Take the case of Eskom where the average salary is greater than R700k. Despite this gross distortion in their wage packets, during the latest wage negotiations the Unions demanded huge increases not only in their base rate but in all the allowances such as housing. If the company had acceded to their demands, the cumulative impact would have possibly doubled an already bloated wage packet.
When their excessive demands were not acceded to, the Union members went on strike. In true bully-boy fashion, they then went on a campaign to destroy company property and intimidate employees in their homes. The country was brought to its knees by load shedding which peaked at level 6. Yet in spite of being insolvent, Eskom bowed to their demands and settled on a an increase of 7% plus increases in certain allowances.
Train drivers in the UK
In the UK it is the train drivers who have ramped up their pay to exorbitant levels. The train drivers are now in the pound streets as they earn roughly double what nurses, Police Officers, Social workers and Teachers earn.
Let’s face it. It might be a responsible job but it’s piss easy. The most important job requirement is to stay alert. The number of signals and signs to be read are far, far less than what every driver has to know and there are no mechanical coordination skills required to steer the train or to get it to pull off smoothly.