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Lonmin fires 235 workers! Do you know when YOU can fire an employee who's been on strike?

by , 21 May 2014
Lonmin fired 235 essential services employees on Monday. This is, after they failed to report for duty.

Lonmin says while these workers weren't on strike, they've been absent ever since the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) started its wage strike four months ago. The company says a recognition agreement signed with AMCU prevents essential services employees from striking.

While some workers say violence and intimidation is the reason for their absence, the company says that's not the case.

In an iol report, Lonmin's spokesman Happy Nkhoma says 'these are employees who have been absent since January 23, and the recent intimidation doesn't explain their absence.'

These mass dismissals have raised questions about when employers can legally fire an employee who's on strike. Read on for the answer, so you can comply with the Labour Relations Act (LRA)...


Legally dismiss striking employees without being taken to the CCMA...

When it comes to dismissing a striking employee if you don't follow the right procedures you could be taken to the CCMA...

Discover how you can avoid being taken to the CCMA by legally dismissing a striking employee.

Click here to find out more.


Here's when you're allowed to fire an employee on strike

You can fire your employee if he goes on an unprotected strike.

BUT, it's not that clear cut.

You first have to go to the Labour Court to get an urgent interdict to stop his strike action.

In the iol report, Lonmin says it got a court order on the 27th of February and asked workers to return to work on May 12.

And that means if your employee continues to strike despite an interdict, like the workers at Lonmin did, you can dismiss him.

But, you must consider these three factors to ensure dismissal is fair:

  •  The seriousness of the contravention of the LRA;
  • Attempts made to comply with the Act, and
  • Whether or not the strike was in response to unjustified conduct on your part as an employer.

Check out this article. In it, we give you a breakdown of what you must do in each step.

But there's one important point to keep in mind when you dismiss an employee on strike…


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With more than 500 pages in the original binder, Labour Law for Managers covers all aspects of employee-employer relationship, down to the smallest details.
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Here's what you must remember when you dismiss an employee on strike

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service says if you dismiss your employee straight after the start of the strike, the Labour Court could find you guilty of unfair dismissal.

But, if the strike goes on for a long time and results in irreparable economic harm to your business, the court will probably find that the dismissal was fair. For this to happen, however, you'll have to 'place the court in a position where it can assess the harm,' adds the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

If, say, the essential services employees accuse Lonmin on unfair dismissal, the company could show or argue that dismissal is fair because its lost about a third of annual production due to the four month long strike.

There you have it. You're allowed to fire an employee on an unprotected strike. But, you have to follow the LRA to the letter.

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