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Employees on an unprotected strike? Send them a legally compliant ultimatum with these 4 elements

by , 16 March 2016
Employees from waste-management service, Pikitup, have been on an unprotected strike for about a week now.

Without notice, they took to the streets over wages, causing many disruptions in the city of Johannesburg.

But Pickitup has had enough!

As reported on SABC News and IOL, they issued an ultimatum to the striking employees, warning them of the consequences if they didn't return to work by 12:00 on Thursday the 10th of March, after which they started handing out pre-dismissal notices.

Now if your company is in a similar situation to Pikitup's, namely an unprotected strike, then you can definitely follow in their footsteps in issuing ultimatums to the employees.

You see, if your employees are on an unprotected strike, it's considered misconduct. And you can treat it as such.

So send out an ultimatum and ensure that the following 4 elements are included in it to make it legally compliant and fair...


Discover the essential components of a strike and effectively manage striking employees...

If strikes aren't managed properly they could spiral out of control and become violent...

Leaving your company crippled by work disruptions and loss of profits...

Discover how you can avoid strikes from ruining your company here.
Element#1: Clarity

You must ensure that the ultimatum clearly states the employees must return to work or face dismissal. Because if you're not clear as to what the consequences will be if they don't return to work, and you dismiss them, it could be seen as unfair.

So don't warn employees of the consequences by using vague terms such as 'disciplinary action'. Be blunt!

Element#2: Reasonableness

The ultimatum must be reasonable.

In other words, you can't go attaching unreasonable terms and conditions to the ultimatum to return to work. If you do so, they must be legal.

For example, you can't go saying that the employees must return to work, and also that they must now accept your wage-increase offer.
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Element#3: Interpretation

If and where necessary, you must get an interpreter to translate the ultimatum in a language that the employees will understand.

Element#4: Time

You must give the employees enough time to seriously consider the ultimatum and its potential consequences.

If applicable, let the union involved know of the ultimatum. The chances are they'll intervene as most unions don't want their members going on unprotected strikes.
IMPORTANT: Before issuing a final ultimatum, you must get in contact with the union involved. For example, this could be as simple as a telephone call.

Also, remember that if your employees go on an unprotected strike, you must first go to the Labour Court for an interdict…
*To learn more on dealing with unprotected strikes, go to chapter S 02 in your Labour law for Managers handbook.

Don't already have it? No problem!

Simply click here to get your copy today. 

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