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Take note! Your employees don't necessarily have to follow pre-strike procedure to go on a protected strike

by , 31 March 2016
In order for your employees to go on a protected strike, they are required to follow standard procedure.

This includes conciliation and notice procedures. In other words, they must first refer a dispute of mutual interest to the CCMA, followed by a notice of intention to strike and so on.

But this isn't necessarily the case in all circumstances.

That's right! In the following situation, employees can go on a protected strike without following standard pre-strike procedure...

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Unilateral changes

If you, as the employer, make unilateral changes to the terms and conditions of employment, your employees can refer the dispute.

In other words, if you make changes to your employees' terms and conditions, without consulting them first, they can refer the dispute, meaning that you can't implement the changes.

And if you've already implemented these changes, you must restore the original agreement.

You'll be required to do this within 48 hours, otherwise your employees will be able to go on strike!

To help you understand this more, here's an example:

Sally's Apples decides to increase its working hours without first consulting its employees.

The employees are outraged by this, and decide to strike over it.

According to standard procedure, they would be required to refer the dispute to conciliation and get a certificate of outcome, or wait 30 days before issuing a notice of intention to strike, and then strike 48 hours later.

But instead, while they're referring the dispute, the employee can demand that Sally's Apples stops the new working hours, or restore the original working hours if the new working hours are already in place.

Sally's Apples now has 48 hours to comply. And after doing so, it must maintain the working hours for 30 days from the date of the referral, during which the normal conciliation process will go ahead to deal with the dispute.
 
What can you learn here?

Understand that any unilateral changes you make to the terms and conditions of employment, within your company, can make your employees very upset because they weren't consulted.

The fact that the law provides for separate procedures in situations like this says a lot.

So it's advised that when you consider any changes to the terms and conditions of employment, first consult with your employees on the matter. And don't be surprised if 48 hours later you have a protected strike on your hands, leading to more losses than the gains you would have had from the changes.
 

*To learn more useful information on the dynamics of strikes, page over to Chapter S 02 in your Labour Law for Mangers handbook, or click here to order your copy today. 


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