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Eskom workers held a picket yesterday - here's how a picket works

by , 03 July 2014
Dozens of National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) members picketed outside Eskom's Megawatt Park headquarters on Wednesday.

This despite an interdict by Eskom that prevents workers from picketing.

The picket is related to the 12% wage demand by metal workers who've been on strike since Tuesday.

It remains to be seen if the power utility will take action against the essential services workers who took part in the picket.

But, following this picket, our labour experts received questions from employers who want to know how a picket works. If you're in the same boat, here's the answer.

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What is a picket?

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, picketing is a form of industrial action designed to dissuade suppliers and employees from entering the employers' premises during a protected strike or lock-out (Section 69 of the LRA and the Code of Good Practice: Picketing).

The aim of a picket is to peacefully demonstrate support of a strike or opposition to a lock-out. A picket can either be protected (lawful) or unprotected (unlawful).

Here's how a picket works

The elements to the picket that differentiate it from an 'assembly' or 'demonstration' are that:

  1. It must be authorised by a registered trade union.
  2. Only members and supporters of that trade union may participate in the picket.
  3. The picket can only take place in a public place outside your premises or, with your permission, inside the premises.

Those taking part in the picket must also conduct themselves in a peaceful, unarmed and lawful manner. They may:

  • Carry placards;
  • Chant slogans; and
  • Sing and dance.

If your employees cross the line during the picket and destroy your property or cause harm, you can take disciplinary action against them in terms of your disciplinary procedures.

Here's the bottom line: While the impact of a picket isn't as disruptive or economically crippling as a strike or lock-out, you must deal with it as if you were dealing with strike action. If you want steps for dealing with a picket or what to do when workers go on an unprotected picket, check out the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

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