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Keep violence to a minimum when your striking employees return to work, as the bus drivers did today!

by , 14 May 2013
Commuters across the country rejoice! The three-week bus strike that left thousands stranded finally came to an end, with bus drivers returning to work this morning. Emotions are high, and while the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has confirmed the bus drivers are happy with the 10% salary increase that was finally agreed upon, there are still fears of violence breaking out... Here's how to keep employees calm when they return to work after a strike.


Employers and unions were involved in lengthy discussions yesterday and finally compromised on a 10% salary increase offer from the employer after Satawu initially demanded a wage increase of 18%.
 
That's why bus drivers across the country have returned to work this morning, effectively ending their three-week strike, says The SABC.
 
Initially it was just Golden Arrow buses that were affected by the strike, but City of Cape Town's MyCiTi bus services were also suspended during the strike after its drivers received threats. 
 
These employees who continue working when the rest of their colleagues – or worse, industry – goes on strike are called 'strikebreakers'.
 
Here's why you should expect violence and hostility when your striking employees return to work
 
And it's actually these strike breakers and employees who don't belong to unions that're increasingly the cause for strikes turning violent – even after the strike's over, says FSPBusiness.
 
That's 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.
 
Because the strikers' anger doesn't just disappear – especially if they're not actually happy with the negotiation that's been reached.
 
Three ways to reduce hostility in the workplace
 
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.
 
If this doesn't work, try to show empathy, because when you're angry it helps to put yourself mentally in the other person's shoes and see the moment as an observer rather than a participant, says Wikihow.
 
If this STILL doesn't work, set up conflict management training for your employees – stat!
 

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