The 2013 collective bargaining process is going to be very difficult because workers are no longer simply satisfied with a CPI-linked increase, but want a living wage, Numsa said on Wednesday.
"Workers are inspired that a real revolution is possible which will speak to the lives of people," said National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) first vice president Andrew Chirwa.
He was speaking at the opening of Numsa's conference in Johannesburg, to prepare for next year's bargaining processes.
"The 'increase' has failed to the change the lives of workers," he said.
Chirwa said that in South Africa, and globally, there was a revolution and strikes by workers against low pay, short time, exploitation and casualisation.
In South Africa, workers had made it clear that CPI-linked percentage-based increases were meaningless and had already made gains (in a recent mining sector settlement) by translating a demand for R12 500 a month into an increase of around 22 percent.
Simply explaining that their high percentage increase demands were unrealistic in terms of Consumer Price Indices was no longer relevant to them.
Any union which approached collective bargaining like this in the future would find itself considered irrelevant, he said.
Workers knew all the economic indicators, but at the same time spent disproportionate amounts of their low income on transport, and were struggling.
"The CPI does not take into account those realities," he said.
Even workers in the relatively well-off sectors such as the automotive sector reported that they were battling.
The recent violence in mining strikes in North West and in farming strikes in the Western Cape, was a reflection of the exploitation people had had to deal with beyond 1994, the year South Africa's first democratic government was elected.
"Workers have had no choice but to confront capital directly, beyond collective bargaining," he said.
On page two... Capitalism had become a form of internal colonialism...