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Act now to prevent a protected strike from crippling your business!

by , 21 January 2013
Protected strikes can result in loss of productivity, angry customers, financial losses, injury, damage to property and soured employee relations. Yesterday, we wrote about the effect of the Amplats job cuts for the investment sector. Today, Fin24 and IOL report that the Amplats strikers have already agreed to return to work, but they want talks to prevent further action. Here's how you can deal with strikes at your workplace.

Amplats labour leader Evans Ramokga said in the IOL article, 'The strike was only for last night,' adding that the strikers will press management to find a way to head off the proposed job cuts.

Often, that's all strikers want – to be heard and the chance to put their views across. There's no denying that strikes can cripple your business.
But do you know if it's even legal for your employees to go on strike?
Ivan Israelstam, CEO of Labour Law Management Consulting, says all employees have the right to go on strike. This right springs from the constitutional right to protest and engage in trade union activity. But, employees don't have to be part of a trade union to go on strike. Previously, for a strike to be legal, 50% + 1 of your employees first had to vote in favour of it. But this requirement for a majority ballot has been scrapped. Also, the concepts of legal and illegal strikes have been scrapped.
Instead, we now have the concepts of protected and unprotected strikes.
3 factors that will prove your employees' strike was protected

If the strike is protected, the strikers will have:
  • proof they've been to the CCMA or a bargaining council to have the matter settled peacefully,
  • a certificate from the CCMA proving that conciliation failed to settle the dispute or it's been 30 days since the conciliation, and
  • proof that they've given you at least 48 hours' notice that they're going on strike if your business is private, or seven days if the employer is the state.
You can never dismiss employees for going on a protected strike because the employees are 'protected' by law from dismissal. This type of dismissal will be regarded as automatically unfair. You'll have to pay each dismissed employee up to two years' remuneration in compensation, or reinstate them with full back pay calculated from the date of the dismissal.
There are 12 steps to deal with protected strikes, all set out in the Labour Law for Managers loose leaf service. Click here to order your copy and use all the expert advice!
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