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Strike culture in South Afirca

April 24, 2013

I just want to post some thoughts before I head to school to see if there’s really a teacher strike today. People like strikes in South Africa. It’s pretty much their favorite negotiation tool, and it’s a right provided by South Africa’s new constitution. It’s almost always about money. The ongoing bus strike is for an 18% raise across the board, and the rumored teacher strike will be because teachers haven’t been paid for work they did recently.

I would think that striking is such a powerful image in South Africa because years ago, people marching in large groups with picket signs really did bring a significant change in the government. Now you see the image of the picket march being used in the most incongruent of places. There’s a poster at my secondary school featuring cartoony people picketing AIDS. There’s a chapter in the Life Orientation groups with some kids picketing crime. When I was in training, there was a TV commercial for Maggi seasoning, featuring a mob of women happily marching on another woman’s house because she was using the wrong seasoning. (I tried to find it on Youtube but couldn’t; it wasn’t very good anyway.)

The impact these strikes have are real. When I first arrived in Venda, there was a municipal strike. Imagine, if you will, being at City Hall for a near-tropical African city, with carefully groomed and cultivated plants, and trash overflowing in the streets because no one will take it away. I remember in the States hearing about standoffs between unions and companies, but it always seemed so distant.

My question is this: what image of real people do we have in the USA that’s so popular it permeates print and advertising? South Africa has strikers. I would think in America we have revolutionaries defying status quo to do what they believe in, because that relates to the founding of our country, but I can’t think of any examples.

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One Comment
  1. Rugged individualist like the Marlboro man, Indian Jones, Amelia Earhart, the officer who delivered milk to the home of a toddler when they locked in during the Boston crisis.

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