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Numsa tells Eskom its members are prepared to go on an unprotected strike - here's what this means

by , 04 July 2014
On Wednesday, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said it's prepared to go on an unprotected strike at Eskom. This if the power utility doesn't meet the union's double-digit wage increase (12 %) demands by Friday, reports Eye Witness News.

The move comes despite an interdict the Labour Court granted in favour of Eskom on Tuesday.

The court ruled employees at the power utility are essential services workers and, as a result, can't take part in a strike.

So what does this all mean?

Read on to find out what an unprotected strike is and how it works so you know what to do if one happens in your workplace.

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Here's what an unprotected strike is and how it works

Experts at the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service say, if your employees don't follow the procedures or strike over a prohibited issue, their strike isn't protected. This means they're not protected from dismissal.

An unprotected strike works as follows

If your employees take part in an unprotected strike, you can go to the Labour Court for an urgent interdict to prevent them from continuing with the strike. (This is what Eskom did on Tuesday.)

If your employees continue to strike despite an interdict, you can start thinking about dismissals because an unprotected strike essentially means your employees are on an illegal strike.

Just remember that while you're within your rights to dismiss workers on an unprotected strike, the dismissals must still be procedurally fair.

To fairly dismiss a striking employee, experts at the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service say you must:

  • Issue a written ultimatum to employees to return to work or face dismissal; and
  • Give your employees a hearing before you decide to dismiss them.

Also note that the no work no pay rule applies when it comes to an unprotected strike. In Eskom's case, their spokesperson, Andrew Etzinger told Eye Witness News that if union members stay away, the no work no pay principle will apply.

There you have it: Knowing what an unprotected strike is and how it works will go a long way in helping you deal with strike action.

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