The trade union movement in South Africa has become a major force since the advent of democracy in 1994. The union movement was an important component of the ANC’s gaining power and the labour laws in South Africa tend to heavily favour employees over employers. When looking at a share it is important to consider its union-exposure. Companies with large semi-skilled or unskilled workforces (like those in the gold and platinum sector) tend to be more susceptible to strike action, while service companies usually have very little union exposure. In America the CEO of a company can fire an employee simply because he does not like that person’s face. There are no “letters of warning” and meetings necessary with the employee. If the boss does not want you, you are out. They work on the principle that the easier and cheaper it is to fire someone, the more businesses will employ – because there is no great risk in taking on an additional staff member. In South Africa, it is highly risky for a businessman to employ someone – because they might be very difficult and expensive to fire. This situation together with regular strike action keeps our national unemployment rate at absurdly high levels.

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