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Strikes - Here's how to deal with them!

by , 20 August 2013
Yesterday, about 30 000 workers downed tools in the auto-manufacturing sector. And this latest strike action will cost the industry about R600m a day! This is in response to the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) demanding pay rises of 20%, while employers are only willing to go up to 6%. Keep reading to find out the 12 steps that'll help you deal with a protected strike.

And I bet you probably don't think this could happen to you, but it can. And you need to know the workings of strikes to protect yourself. 

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Discover the essential components of a strike and effectively manage striking employees...
 
If you don't manage strikes 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
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12 Steps to deal with protected strikes
Use these 12 steps when dealing with striking employees:
 
Step #1: Make sure the strike is a protected one. Because you can't use court interdicts or dismissals to deal with protected strikes.
 
Step #2: Make sure strikers understand why you can't meet their demands. Discuss this with them or issue notices explaining your decision. 
 
Step #3: Negotiate. Compromise on demands that you can afford and are fair. For example, think
about shortening working hours for staff not directly involved with production.
 
Step #4: You could also sit it out. In other words, let the employees strike and you continue with your business. But you must only do this if you: 
a) Aren't in a position to give in to their demands;
b) Haven't been able to settle the dispute through negotiation (steps 1 and 2 above);
c) Are sure you've made reasonable counter proposals which the strikers have rejected. Even if you've tried to negotiate, check if your proposals are reasonable or could be improved; And 
d) Are in a strong financial position and can keep production going while the employees strike.
 
Step #5: You have the right to take industrial action known as a 'lock-out'. This is where you stop employees from coming to work by locking them out of your premises. Only do this if it's necessary to prevent damage, violence or obstruction of operations. 
 
Step #6: Bring in replacement labour where it's practical. Do this carefully as it could provoke violence from striking employees. Provide extra security to prevent attacks on the temporary workers.
 
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Legally dismiss striking employees without landing up at the CCMA...
When it comes to dismissing a striking employee if you don't follow the right procedures you could land up at the CCMA... Discover how you can avoid the CCMA by legally dismissing a striking employee.
 
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The final six steps to dealing with strikes...
 
Step #7: Evacuate non-striking employees if they're in danger.
 
Step #8: Pay special attention to protecting lives of employees and dangerous or strategic fittings, such as fuel depots or electrical generators.
 
Step #9: Don't discipline or dismiss employees for going on a protected strike.
 
Step #10: Don't provoke strikers, e.g. don't taunt them by doing a mock toyi-toyi.
 
Step #11: Deal with sabotage, blockades, picketing or other disruptive or prohibited conduct during strikes in a firm, but restrained manner. Bring in police or security personnel if you need to, as a preventive measure.
 
Step #12: Don't pay employees for the period they're on strike!
 
While the principle of no-work no-pay might sound a bit harsh, the reality of how much production and profit you lose each day employees strike, is much harsher. Turn to chapters S18 and S19 of the Labour Law for Managers to find out the four steps to beat strikes and how to handle secondary strikes. Not a subscriber? Click here now.
 
Until next time,
 
Taryn Strugnell
 
P.S. Do you have a question about striking employees? Sign up to www.labourandhrclub.co.za and get an answer to your question today! 

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