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Here's what to do when a picketing agreement is breached

by , 24 January 2014
Industrial action can take many forms. The most common of these is strike action. In fact, at the moment, there's a wage strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Workers (Amcu). But, there are a number of alternative forms of industrial action besides the infamous strike. Go-slows, secondary strikes and picketing are the more familiar alternatives you may also experience. We'll look at picketing and how best to handle this form of industrial action. So read on as we tell you about a picketing agreement and what to do when it's breached.

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, picketing is a form of industrial action designed to dissuade suppliers and employees from entering the employers' premises during a protected strike or lockout.

The purpose of this action is to peacefully demonstrate support of a strike or opposition to a lockout. It can either be protected (lawful) or unprotected (unlawful).

When it comes to pickets, you need to prearrange and agree on the rules concerning picketing with the trade union by agreeing on the issue in a collective agreement.

This agreement defines the procedure to follow when employees picket.

But rules are broken all the time and you'll know very well that industrial action in South Africa is getting more violent.

And this brings us to this question: What happens if a picketing agreement is breached?

The following MUST happen when a picketing agreement is breached

If this agreement is broken or either party alleges there's been a breach, one or both of the parties can refer the dispute to the CCMA after giving notice to the other party of its intention to do so.

The CCMA must in turn attempt to resolve the dispute through conciliation, but if the dispute remains unresolved, it may be referred to the Labour Court for adjudication.

There will be no arbitration process by the CCMA unless the collective agreement provides otherwise.

Keep in mind that picketing rules can be re-established, revised, supplemented or modified by the CCMA several times for the same industrial action. You and the union are allowed to call upon the CCMA to establish picketing rules each time there's industrial action.

Knowing what to do when a picketing agreement is breached will help ensure you handle pickets effectively.

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