When working conditions become strategic

More sad news from South Africa recently. A worker in the wine industry has been killed in protests over labour/working/living conditions in the country.

It’s probably premature to suggest that the mining strikes are spreading to lots of other sectors in South Africa.

And it may also be too early to say that violent protests may become more common in supply chains.

But it’s entirely possible. And it’s likely that if and when that happens governments will react strongly.

Slowing growth and rising costs of resources and the cost of living do make this more likely. 

Companies often bear the brunt of this government reaction, particularly when street riots and/or votes are at stake.

This may soon make working conditions and worker satisfaction much more strategic for companies.

Of course, accidents, protests and poor working conditions have been taking place for centuries.

What’s different now is the new technology facilitating instant reporting, knowledge transfer and, as we saw in London last year, bigger riots and greater unrest.

Supply chain heads wanting a bigger budget for supplier engagement and working conditions improvements may want to present this scenario and supporting research to their bosses. Here’s one way. And here’s another.

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