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Can a strike be unprotected even if correct procedures were followed?

by , 06 September 2013
You already know that certain procedural requirements have to be followed before your employees can embark on a protected strike. But the wave of strikes currently underway in various sectors has raised this big question: Can strikes be unprotected even if correct procedures have been followed? Read on to find out...

Three conditions must be met before a strike is considered a protected strike.

  1. Your workers must have referred the dispute for Conciliation
  2. They must have given notice of intention to strike
  3. If the issue in dispute concerns a refusal to bargain, they must have obtained an advisory arbitration award.

If these steps aren't followed, the strike will be unprotected.

But is it possible for a strike to be unprotected even if the procedures set out above have been followed?

Yes, it can! It all depends on what the dispute is about.

For example, disputes about wage demands.

If there's a collective agreement concluded in a bargaining council, check whether the agreement provides for actual or minimum wage increases.

If the agreement regulates actual wage increases, your employees may not strike for increases for the period that's regulated by the agreement.

If the collective agreement regulates only minimum wage increments, then your employees have the right to strike over demands for increases over the minimum.

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service gives you an example of how this works:

If the collective agreement provides for a minimum wage of R10 per hour, there's nothing to prevent a union from demanding R11 per hour. Usually, collective agreements provide for actual increases so that the necessity of collective bargaining on wage increases at shop floor level isn't required.

Well there you have it. A strike can be unprotected even if the procedures set out above have been followed. Knowing this will help ensure you take the necessary action if workers go an unprotected strike.



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