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Are new strike laws on the cards for SA employees?

by , 12 August 2014
These days, it seems like government's motto is: 'Change is constant.'

We say this because government is once again looking at changing labour laws, more specifically, strike laws.

The proposed change is part of government's efforts to deal with the lengthy and violent strikes.

Read on to find out more about these plans and how they'll affect your business.

New strike laws could be on the cards

Government is considering drawing up laws for compulsory interest arbitration and the prohibition of replacement (scab) labour during industrial action to deal with lengthy and violent strikes, reports BDlive.

According to the report, Deputy Labour Minister, Phathekile Holomisa, told the 27th Annual Labour Law Conference last week that the department will seek consensus with labour and business on the proposals before making changes to the Labour Relations Act.

Government's move comes after the damaging five-month long strike in the mining sector as well as a four week violent strike in the metal and engineering sector.

Here's what you need to know about the proposed changes to strike laws

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What you need to know about government's plans when it comes to interest arbitration and replacement labour

According to CCMA director, Nerine Khan, interest arbitration is a mediated process between parties in which the arbitrator or arbitration panel makes a binding ruling in the dispute on the grounds that a settlement would be in the wider public interest.

At the moment, if parties don't agree on a settlement, a strike can go on for a long period. This is what we saw with the recent mining strike that crippled the economy.

With interest arbitration, government hopes strikes will come to an end quicker so there's no violence. It believes this may be a cost effective and efficient way of resolving disputes. This is certainly good news for you as it means strike action won't cripple your business.

The second thing government wants to change is laws regarding replacement labour.

As it stands, you have a right to hire replacement labour if you wish to continue your business or if you believe the strike may be protracted. If the new proposal succeeds, replacement labour may be a thing of the past.

Perhaps the reason for this is that striking employees often intimidate and assault replacement labour. And this contributes to strikes getting more violent.

Now that you know what government is thinking, we'll watch this development closely and keep you updated so you can comply with any changes government introduces to the Labour Relations Act.

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