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Here's how to respond when employees go on strike

by , 22 April 2013
Strike season is in full swing once more. On Thursday, the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) announced a nationwide strike as a result of a wage negotiations deadlock. Today, Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit drivers from Piotrans also went on a strike related to salary progression. Even international powerhouse airline, Lufthansa is having the same issues. Read on to discover how to respond when your employees resort to strike action.

Strikes can have a number of unpleasant consequences for you as an employer, especially considering the violence and intimidation that's often accompanied by strikes in South Africa.

You need to know how to respond when your employees resort to strike action to minimise the damage.

Use these tips to control strike action by your employees

  1. When a union has given notice of intention to strike, employees sometimes ready themselves for the strike by asking non-union members to join in the strike. This often takes the form of intimidation. 'Advise the union that they're obliged to ensure that non union members are not intimidated as soon as notice of intention to strike has been given. Suggest that it is the union's responsibility to control its members,' advises The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
  2. Place a notice on notice boards advising your employees that you're adopting a zero tolerance approach towards intimidation. Advise your employees that any employee who intimidates another employee will be disciplined and if found guilty, may be dismissed.
  3. Ensure that you place a notice on the notice board setting out your company policy on misconduct. In the letter to the union, advise them that if their members engage in acts of violence or damage to property, the company will hold the union liable for such losses.
  4. After the strike has ended, proceed with disciplinary action if there have been acts of misconduct. 'It is important to establish a precedent that irrespective of the outcome of the strike, misconduct will not be tolerated,' says the Loose Leaf.

Remember that although these tips indicate possible ways of dealing with intimidation and misconduct once you have a strike on your hands, it's better to address these issues before you're faced with strike action.

So negotiate rules with the union about strike related conduct when you're not in dispute. This way, you're more likely to get a sensible arrangement in place. And if the pre-agreed arrangement is breached, you'll be in a stronger position to take action.

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