Two weeks ago, the two major truck driving unions – South African Transport and Allied Workers Union – went on strike across the country. The industry workers are demanding a wage increase while their employers are trying to argue them down.
A short summary of the issue:
A longer analysis of the strike’s effect on ZA businesses:
The media loves this strike. Every morning the radio DJs discuss gas and food shortages. Every evening the news anchors report driver-on-driver violence.
Some truckers are continuing to drive despite the strike. Consequently, several striking workers have targeting the driving trucks for vandalism and violence. The media loves to report the few rock throwing and truck burning incidents over and over again.
Mostly, however, I was ignoring the strike. Who really believes the news anyway?
Then yesterday I went to a gas station to fill up and they didn’t have any gas left!
What? This strike is actually affecting me?
I wasn’t worried. I still had enough gas for the next few days. But it might change my weekend plans if I couldn’t drive out of the city.
But you know what? It actually felt good to have my own life affected by external issues.
In Canada, we always hear the media say things like, “Expect the price of flour to increase 300% because oil prices in the Middle East are affecting food prices in Africa” but these threats rarely pan out. Our everyday lives are shielded from international problems.
In fact, we’re even shielded from domestic concerns. BC Hydro wants to build another dam to provide BC residents with electricity? No way! They want to raise electricity prices to curb usage? Absolutely not! BC Hydro’s business problems shouldn’t affect my personal electricity bill!
This gas shortage, on the other hand, made me feel like I was part of history! Like experiencing the United States gas shortage in the 1970s.
Luckily, however, I was able to fill up at a different station this morning.
Thank goodness. The excitement of being “part of history” would wear off pretty quickly – probably as soon as I experienced a slight inconvenience.