South African Economy Paralyzed As Miner Strike Spreads To Truck Drivers
While we have been predicting that the South African miner strike, which started 2 months ago, and which despite (or rather due to) a one-off concession by Lonmin to hike worker pay by 22% is more entrenched now than ever, would spread to other countries, we failed to anticipate that it could also move to other domestic industries. Which is precisely what has happened as 20,000 truck drivers in the South African country decided to go on strike following the example of their miner brethren, demanding a 12% wage hike, and in the process crippling the South African economy, bringing virtually every industry to a halt. Why did they take the risk? Because they suddenly realized that they have all the leverage in a globalized society in which as we explained in "Trade-Off: A Study In Global Systemic Collapse", even a several hour complete trade paralysis can and likely will lead to total social de-evolution: an outcome which the status quo which determines wages paid to workers, would seek to avoid at all costs. Next up: the second global worker revolution. Marx would be proud.
ATMs lacked cash, fuel stations were running dry and hospitals saw vital coal supplies diminish Tuesday as South Africa felt the pinch from a truck drivers' strike that entered its second week.
The strike has halted the delivery of goods across the country, as more than 20,000 workers dig in on their demand for higher wages.
Fuel pump stations have begun to dry up in several areas in Gauteng province, the country's economic centre, according to the South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA).
"Some garages in Gauteng have been reporting fuel shortages since this past weekend," said Fani Tshifularo, the association's spokesman.
"Unfortunately garages do not keep large reserves of fuel on premises, so shortages are likely to occur faster," he said.
On Tuesday hundreds of strikers brought central Johannesburg to a crawl, as they marched across the central business district. They handed a memorandum of demands to the offices of the transport sector bargaining council, before dispersing.
"We are here to protest that we need a 12 percent (pay rise). Whatever the employer is promising us, it's just peanuts," driver Mabule Molelemane said.
Other protest marches were held in major cities across the country.
According to transport authorities, 80 percent of all freight in South Africa is conducted by road.
Next steps: hoarding as society realizes that suddenly the trading arteries of society are jammed up, and it is every man, woman and child for themselves. Sure enough, the warnings begin:
SAPIA warned the public to refrain from panic buying, saying the shortages were not yet widespread.
Since the beginning of the stayaway, striking drivers have torched delivery trucks and assaulted non-striking workers, aggravating the supply crunch.
"We are concerned about the safety of our workers, as a result plans have been made to provide additional security to non-striking workers to deliver fuel," said Tshifularo.
The strike has also halted the delivery of coal to public hospitals, which need the fuel to operate boilers for cooking and water heating.
The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, the largest public hospital in the country, said it had not taken delivery of coal since last week.
And while the dramatic risks and implications for both the South African economy, the region, and the world in general can not be overstated if this economic paralysis continues, the irony is that with each successive striking victory, more and more workers both in South Africa, and everywhere, will soon be empowered to demand equitable treatment, which means higher salaries, which means less corporate profits, which means higher prices for everyone.
We hope the Wall Street sell side community is starting to get the picture.