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Amcu strike proves just how important it is for businesses to build relationships with trade unions

by , 20 June 2014
The platinum mine strike has entered its 22nd week. At the moment, it seems like it's not going to come to an end anytime soon.

This because Amcu is reportedly making new demands which go against an 'in principle' deal it struck with platinum producers last week.

South Africa's longest and costliest mining strike has put sharp focus on the need for businesses to build relationships with trade unions. After all, you can't shy away from the fact that the relationship between Amcu and platinum producers isn't good. And perhaps this has contributed to the strike going on for so long.

The good news is you can take lessons from this strike so your company doesn't suffer the same fate.

Here's how to build a good relationship with your workers' trade unions.

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Use these methods to build relationships with unions so you can avoid an Amcu type strike

#1: Listen

Small Business Chron says listening to your employees is the first rule of dealing with workers, unionised or not.

Employees want you to hear and address their concerns. They want to participate in making decisions that affect their work and their life.
Managers who sit in closed offices and are accessible to employees only through union representatives will have trouble building relationships, warns the site.

#2: Stay in touch

Meet regularly with union representatives to ask how things are going and to solicit advice and comment.

Don't confine these meetings to formal negotiation or conflict resolution sessions. Meet over coffee or lunch and, if you're the manager, meet sometimes on his turf. Don't just summon the shop steward into your office, writes business expert Bob Haring.

The next tip is crucial. If you don't do this, you'll shoot yourself in the foot.

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One additional tip to help you build relationships with unions

#3: Stress partnership

Emphasise that management and labour have a common goal - success.

Make union leaders or workers part of your team with joint meetings, brainstorming suggestions and similar cooperative ventures, concludes the site.

The important thing here is that you must be proactive. Build a good relationship with the union when there are no talks of a strike. If you have a good relationship, chances are, even when a strike happens, it'll be peaceful; you'll negotiate in good faith; end the strike sooner and get back to work because you trust and respect each other.

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