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Four instances when you can discipline employees who strike

by , 05 November 2013
It seems like workers have an unparalleled right to strike whenever they're unhappy with working conditions, wages or working hours. But the truth is, there are instances in which a strike is not allowed - which means you can discipline or dismiss anyone who does strike in these cases.

Below, the experts behind the Labour Law for Managers Handbook explain when exactly your workers aren't allowed to strike.

You can discipline striking employees in these four instances
1.       If they're bound by a collective agreement that prohibits a strike for the issue in dispute. For example, if a collective agreement provides for a wage increase of 10% for year one, the union can't demand that the increment be increased to 11% for year one.

2. If they're bound by an agreement that requires the issue in dispute to be referred to arbitration;

3. If the issue in dispute is one that a party has the right to refer to arbitration or the Labour Court in terms of the Act. For example, if an employee has been dismissed his fellow employees cannot embark upon a strike demanding that he be reinstated.

4. If that person is engaged in an essential service or a maintenance service.

Plus, no person may participate in a strike if that person is bound by an arbitration award or collective agreement that regulates the issue in dispute or any determination made in terms of Section 44 by the Minister that regulates the issue in dispute. For example, if the collective agreement or determination regulates the provision of a shift allowance then employees may not strike for a further or increased shift allowance.

If your employees DO strike in any of these instances, the strike will automatically be unprotected – meaning that you can take disciplinary action against the employees involved, and they won't be able to challenge you. Just be sure to follow the correct disciplinary procedures.

Remember that you do have the power to manage and prevent strikes in your workplace. You just need to know when you can – and can't – discipline your employees, 

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