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Picketing: Just as serious for businesses as strikes and go-slows

by , 19 August 2013
Your employees have a right to picket. But that doesn't mean you must tolerate a disruptive, violent and unruly mob outside your doors. Read on to discover the two crucial elements of a picket so you know how to handle the situation and can avoid undue disruptions.

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, 'the right to picket stems from the right to assemble and the right to demonstrate in terms of our Constitution.' The aim of this action is to peacefully demonstrate support of a strike or opposition to a lockout.

But there are certain elements to the picket that differentiate it from strikes or go-slows.

It's crucial you understand these elements so you'll know how to handle this form of industrial action.

Revealed: The two elements of a picket

#1: The picket must be authorised by a registered trade union

The 'authorisation' must be in accordance with the constitution of the registered trade union concerned. This means a written and formal resolution by the trade union, which appoints a trade union official to authorise the picket for its members and supporters is required.

The trade official must also serve a copy of the resolution and notice of authorisation to you before the picket begins.

Make sure you check the notice includes:

  • The name, address and telephone number of the trade union.
  • Notification that the picket is in compliance with Section 69 of the Labour Relations Act (that it's authorised by a registered trade union for the purpose of peacefully demonstrating in support of a protected strike or in opposition to a lock out); and
  • Details of the picket, for example, the employer being picketed, the date when the picket will start and the location of the picket.

Keep in mind that unregistered unions and employees acting on their own have no power to authorise a picket. This ensures that trade unions assume responsibility for the conduct of their members taking part in the picket.

#2: Only members and supporters of that trade union may participate in the picket

Labour law states that non-union members aren't entitled to participate in the picket BUT supporters who associate themselves with the cause of the authorising union can participate in the picket. These supporters may include both non-member employees and members of the public.

There you have it: By understanding the elements of a picket, you'll know how to handle them properly and prevent disruptions in your workplace.



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