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Prevent a Telkom strike and save your company thousands with these four steps

by , 15 July 2013
Telkom is facing a crippling strike. This after failing to reach an agreement over wages with unions Solidarity and the South African Communications Union (Sacu). According to itweb, lunchtime pickets begin this week, with full-blown industrial action threatened by one union for next week if the wage negotiation stalemate continues. Telkom isn't the only company facing strike action, a wild cat strike began last week Wednesday at the Consolidated Murchison gold and antimony mine in Limpopo, BDlive reports. The unprotected strike comes as wage talks between unions and the Chamber of Mines begin this week. Since prevention is better than cure, here are five steps you can use to prevent a strike altogether.

'When your employees embark on a strike to resolve a grievance or dispute this will cost you. Any strike, irrespective of its size can be an expensive exercise for you,' warns the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

Since your business can't afford to take this risk, use these steps to prevent a strike in your workplace.

Four steps to prevent a strike in your workplace

Step #1: Be proactive in addressing disputes and grievances

Prevention is better than cure. Ensure you develop good communication policies and procedures. This'll enable your employees to approach you and discuss issues before resorting to extreme measures such as a strike.

You must try and address these issues as soon as your employees raise them. Make sure your employees' representatives (nominated shop stewards) from your employees' union or anyone your employees have nominated as their spokesperson or contact person, know your policies and procedures well.

If your employees trust you and know you're willing to try and address their concerns, they'll rather approach you to sort out issues instead of resorting to a strike.

Step #2: Follow your own policies and procedures

Some strikes start because the employer failed to follow his own policies and procedures, especially for disciplinary actions against its employees. It's imperative that you follow your own policies and procedures to avoid this.

Keep your part of the bargain by respecting agreements you've entered into with your employees or their representatives.

Step #3: Develop a good relationship with your employees and their union

The overall strategy for developing and maintaining peaceful industrial relations is the creation of a culture of peace, mutual trust and harmony. While there's no easy or ideal recipe for achieving this challenge the following approach can contribute to avoiding strikes or escalation of strikes:

All your employees, whether permanent or temporary including managers, have a right to form and join a union, attend union meetings and to represent or be represented in disciplinary hearings. They can also take part in protected strikes that trade unions have the right to organise.

Develop a healthy relationship with your employees' union. Keep your employees' union abreast of your company affairs, especially anything affecting your relationship with your employees. Develop a forum to have monthly meetings with union representatives. Involve them in your workplace health and safety issues and encourage them to offer suggestions about how to make the workplace safe and employee friendly.

A good union relationship will help your company run more smoothly and develop a relationship of trust and respect between you and your employees.

It's crucial that you deal with unions in an approachable manner rather than antagonising them. Deal with employee representatives who know what's going on in your business; those who don't are likely to make unreasonable demands.

Step #4: Have progressive remuneration policies

Pay your employees a fair wage and keep them informed on an ongoing basis as to the financial position of the company. Such ongoing transparency, coupled with proper explanation of its significance and how business works should help towards the building of trust and understanding between you and your employees.

There you have it. Prevention is better than cure. Use these steps to prevent costly strikes from happening in your workplace.

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