Unions do not create grievances: analysts

Unions do not create grievances. That’s the view of two defence analysts writing in the ISS today about last month’s mutinous riot at the Union Buildings.  

News just in is that defence and military veterans minister Lindiwe Sisulu (pictured) will tommorrow address an extraordinary meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans on the violent protest.

Institute for Security Studies Peace Missions Programme Head Henri Boshoff and Stellenbosch University Professor of Sociology Lindy Heinecken note that it was the inability the country`s military leadership to resolve grievances or address the aspirations of military personnel that led to the formation of unions in the first place.
“Where the grievance procedures are not functioning properly (over 4000 grievances remain unresolved); where the chain of command is dysfunctional and political leadership remains insensitive to the needs of soldiers; what alternatives remain for soldiers but to protest?
“Unfortunately our history shows that militant action works and this where things have gone horribly wrong,” they say in their blog of the August 26 riot.
“Unlike other employees, we have disgruntled armed soldiers voicing their anger publicly at the State.
For the sake of the country it is important to break the impasse between the management of the SANDF and the soldiers and so bring stability to the SANDF. For this, there needs to be a spirit of cooperation, not suppression. Surely the ‘defenders of our democracy` have the right to be heard?”
Boshoff and Heinecken add the protests came on the 15th birthday of the SA National Defence Union that organised the protest.    
The Sunday Times, meanwhile, reports that more protests are in the offing. It quotes Sandu chief negotiator Jeff Dubazana as saying demonstrations are planned for September 14.
This may run foul of an interdict obtained by the Ministry of Defence last week that prohibited unions from illegal protest and also prohibited their officials to encourage the same.
The report added that the protest would enjoy support from the uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association, but the group this morning denied this.   
Defence and veterans minister Lindiwe Sisulu last month ordered the provisional dismissal of all personnel involved in the August fracas, giving those identified 10 days to make representations why they should not be dismissed.
To date 1420 soldiers, medics and airmen have been given dismissal letters — 1333 from the SA Army, 80 from SA Military Health Service and seven from the SA Air Force.
SANDU said it would challenge the dismissals in court.
Defence head of communication Siphiwe Dlamini said this afternoon that to his knowledge this has not happened. He has also not heard of any planned protests.
Radio reports indicate that the union will instead ask the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans to intercede.  

The committee has not yet commented on the mutiny but earlier this year unanimously slammed SANDU rival the SA Security Forces Union for comments made regarding Chief of the SA Navy, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu.

SANDU could not be reached for comment.


Pic: Defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu.