takes Quixote-like view of labour as evil giant
...From reading "Business community must take back power" (Business Report, July 11), it appears that writer Ivor Blumenthal, chief executive of the Services Sector Education and Training Authority, has mastered all these tricks.He
pretends to direct his
annoyance at organised business for not defending the interests of the business community - whatever he
means by that.But a closer reading of his
article reveals a man obsessed with crushing the labour movement.He
seems angered by what he
perceives to be the unlimited power of labour; a power he
expected organised business to contest.So he
calls for business to take back what he
feels has been taken away from it.
really says is that we should call for the emasculation of all labour rights, to prove that the leadership of organised business still articulates the sentiments of the business community.
What is it that we must take back?When and how was it taken away from business?Blumenthal
is angry with the power of labour - an entirely imaginary power.He
is angry that Business Unity South Africa and other voices of organised business have either abdicated their responsibility or lack the skills, capacity or will to do what he
ridiculously claims is the need to regain the power base of business.
According to Aristotle: "Anybody can become angry; that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody's power; that is not easy."
We are left rather bemused by the misdirection of the anger that comes out of Blumenthal
It is not clear from the article what he
wants organised business to do on the issues that he
raised to illustrate his
Who should organised business have locked out when the public sector workers went on strike? His
infantile charge that we should have come out in support of the government, by virtue of the fact that it is an employer too, presupposes the end of organised business as an independent voice: it calls for the dissolution of the independent voices of business and government, in favour of government and business speaking in one organised voice, especially on labour relations.
view is hidden in such calls as business standing up for its "share of the power relationship", it is clear that Blumenthal
favours a totalitarian outlook that sees "progressive South Africa As One" (represented by government and business) and labour as, at best, a nuisance or, at worst, a force whose destruction business and government should work to realise.
The most dangerous aspect of Blumenthal's piece is the sense that the business community never stands up for issues on behalf of business, even when it disagrees with labour and the government.
(Where it suits Blumenthal
, organised business must stand up to the government - as he
said FirstRand should have done when instead it pulled its advertisements protesting high crime rates - but when it comes to strike action, the government and business should speak as one!)
Bereft of facts to substantiate his
does the predictable: he
gets personal and insults every leader of organised business.Instead of strengthening his
argument that local organised business is not playing its role sufficiently - a perfectly legitimate line of argument - he
accuses all organised business of taking instructions from social partners, and of cowardice and incapacity.
The world of organised business therefore needs our Don Quixote - Blumenthal
- to lead a revolution against its inept leadership.
Coming from the skills development fraternity, our Don Quixote is probably looking at developing a skills development programme that, under his
supervision, will qualify us for the leadership of organised business.
Contrary to the ridiculous assertions of Blumenthal
, organised business continues to speak strongly on its own behalf, and does so without fear or favour.
Where we disagree with the government or labour, we express our disagreement.As organised business, our constituency is business, and we will always advocate on its behalf.
It may well be that our disagreement with Blumenthal
is that we do not believe that the test of good business leadership is through "permanent hostility to government and labour", but rather through partnership driven by honest co-operation and disagreements - just as we do not believe that the test of relevance for the trade union movement is the number of industrial actions a year.