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Amcu warns of secondary strike over Amplats retrenchments - here's what you need to know...

by , 08 October 2013
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has warned that strike action over job cuts at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) could lead to a secondary strike, BDlive reports. Amcu is unhappy with Amplats decision to retrench 3300 workers. If a secondary strike gets underway, it could further cripple Amplats. Here are the five requirements for a secondary strike to be protected you need to know about so you can minimise your company's financial losses.

According to BDlive, two weeks of strike action following Amplats' shedding of 4 800 jobs, including 3 300 forced retrenchments have cost the platinum producer 3 100oz a day as mines in Rustenburg and north of the Pilanesberg continue to report workforce attendance below 20%.

So it's no wonder that Amcu is kicking up a fuss about job losses and threatening a secondary strike.

But what is a secondary strike?

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, a secondary strike is: 'A strike by employees; secondary employees of a different employer or a secondary employer, such as a supplier or customer of the primary employer, who have no grievance or dispute with their employer, and have no direct substantial interest in the outcome of the dispute in that they're not a party to the bargaining process taking place between the primary employer and its employees, whose interest is to advance the case of and to support a strike by other employees against their employer.'

An example of a secondary strike is a strike by the employees of a supplier or customer (the secondary employer) of the primary employer.

In Amcu's case, Joseph Mathunjwa Amcu president has said 'if we are pushed, we will ask for a secondary strike where all our members in different sectors will be called.'

Since a secondary strike can lead to severe economic damage to an employer, they're subject to certain labour law limitations.

A secondary strike must comply with these five requirements for it to be protected:

#1: The primary strike by the primary employees must be protected;

#2: The secondary employees must give their employer at least seven days' notice of the secondary strike;

#3: The potential harm to the secondary employer must be minimal.

#4: There must be a link between the primary and secondary employers; and

#5: The strike will be protected if the secondary employer could place pressure on the primary employer to resolve the original dispute.

Please note that if the harm to the secondary employer is far more than the potential effect the secondary strike could have on the primary employer, the courts will most likely see the secondary strike as unreasonable and unprotected.

The bottom line: Your employees have the right to strike to force you to accept the demands they've made in the collective bargaining process. The right to embark upon secondary strikes, or sympathy strikes, is included in this right. And that means your employee's secondary strike will only be protected if it meets the above mentioned requirements.

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