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Advice for judges and business owners alike: The secret to prevent a strike over salary expectations

by , 15 March 2013
Just when you thought you'd seen it all concerning strike action in South Africa: the very people tasked with setting an example and overseeing strike action and considering going this route themselves. That's right, South African magistrates are grumbling over salary expectations and threatening to strike if their demands aren't met. Here's how to handle similar situations in your company to prevent a strike from crippling your business!

South African strike action is never-ending.
The latest to contemplate striking?
Magistrates themselves!
The reason?
Magistrates are demanding a single pay structure for the judiciary.
This would put their salaries and benefits on the same sliding scale as those of judges. 
But this could see their salaries increase by almost 100%, which is why there are fears of strike action.
If the magistrates do go on strike, 'the respect with which members of the public looked to judicial officers would be undermined', says iAfrica
That's why Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said at an economic development forum yesterday that South Africa needs business and labour to co-operate, says the Business Day's BD Live website.
'A fractious and conflict-ridden shop-floor is not conducive to the joint effort that is at the heart of successful industrialisation in a society,' said Patel.
At the heart of fixing the problem is communication.
Institute an open door communication policy in your company to prevent a strike!
So the easiest way to prevent your employees going on strike is to make sure it's clear that you have an open door policy with any trade union representatives in your company
This way, your employee representatives can discuss any issues of concern with you before resorting to strike action. You'll be able to address and sort out issues immediately, says FSP Business.
This will establish a relationship of trust between you and your employees, and make them more likely to approach you with issues before deciding to go on strike.
If you're still concerned that employees may strike over salary expectations, have a look at how you've worded their employment contracts.
Make sure your employment contracts explain how your company structures salaries and if they can expect a salary increase
One way to ensure this is to make sure your employees understand how their salary is structured, so that you won't have to deal with employees threatening to strike if you don't meet their salary increase demands.
Make it clear up front that salaries aren't awarded based on personal need but rather on performance, results and success.
And if salary increases aren't agreed to in your employment contracts, you don't have to agree to give one.
Here's what you should include in your employment contracts to prevent strikes over salary increase expectations
Employees only have a legal right to a salary increase if you've agreed to it in their employment contract says the Labour Bulletin.
So if you've phrased a clause in your employment contracts to clearly state that you'll review salaries annually, you haven't actually given any guarantee that you'll give a salary increase.
That's all it takes to drastically minimise the threat of strikes over salary expectations in your company. 

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