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Here's how to minimise violence against strike breakers if your unionised employees are on strike...

by , 19 March 2013
With so many strikes on the go at the moment, it's hardly surprising South Africa's seen as 'strike central' by overseas media. But what is surprising is the fact that strike breakers and employees who don't belong to unions are increasingly being seen as a cause for strikes turning violent. Here's how to minimise violence against strike breakers if your employees do go on strike.

Scab labour is now being recognised as a factor in violent strikes, says the Business Day's BDLive website.
 
Confused? You're not alone.
 
A 'scab' a derogatory term used to describe a strike breaker or someone who refuses to join a labour union, explains WiseGeek
 
Now, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is set to fight for a change to the country's labour laws to eliminate scab labour to minimise violence in strikes.
 
Because while it's a great way to keep your company going when employees strike, employing non-striking workers is now seen as one of the top five conditions aggravating violence during strikes.
 
That's why a number of countries have now banned replacement labour during a protected strike.
 
So should you follow suit and simply let your business run on fumes when employees strike?
 
It'll result in huge loss of productivity, but it's the safer option as you'll have less risk of property being damaged and non-striking employees being attacked. 
 
Implement a lock out to prevent violence when your employees strike
 
Don't forget that you can implement a lock out to protect your business if striking employees turning violent, reminds FSP Business.
 
Section 64(1)(b) of the Labour Relations Act states that every employee has the right to strike and every employer has recourse to lock out striking employees.
 
But don't let non-striking employees work if there are threats of violence.
 
Don't think all's back to normal when unionised employees return to work from a strike…
 
Because 'strike action in South Africa is often characterised by violence, with lots of the fatalities arising from clashes between strikers and non-striking workers,' says DefenceWeb
 
So you should be alert even after a strike's been called off and the striking workers return to work.
 
If you're worried that violence will break out, make sure your employees know you're listening to them, as the surprise factor of really listening to someone is often enough to neutralise the angry person's energy, suggests the Labour Bulletin.
 
Sometimes, that's all it takes.
 

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