New strike rules im­mi­nent

CityPress - - Business -

An ac­cord set­ting new rules for strikes was signed along­side the Na­tional Min­i­mum Wage deal this week, in essence try­ing to bar an­other event like Marikana.

On the one hand, it ad­dresses vi­o­lence – the ac­cord bans the use of live am­mu­ni­tion by the pub­lic or­der polic­ing unit and se­cu­rity com­pa­nies, and also com­mits them to “re­frain from act­ing in a man­ner that es­ca­lates the con­flict”.

On the other hand, it also tar­gets the al­leged un­demo­cratic na­ture of large strikes, where em­ploy­ers of­ten claim most work­ers just want to come to work.

Pend­ing amend­ments to the Labour Re­la­tions Act will en­force se­cret strike bal­lots as well as “ad­vi­sory ar­bi­tra­tion” when strikes are judged to have got out of hand.

The se­cret bal­lot amend­ment will re­quire unions to hold an anony­mous vote of mem­bers be­fore em­bark­ing on a strike. The reg­is­trar of labour will have to over­see th­ese bal­lots.

The ar­bi­tra­tion clause is meant to al­low the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion (CCMA) to in­ter­vene in three dis­tinct sit­u­a­tions – it can be used if there is vi­o­lence or a threat of vi­o­lence, and it can be used when a strike has gone on for a long time and has be­come “dys­func­tional” in the sense that the work­ers and em­ploy­ers are not ac­tu­ally ne­go­ti­at­ing any more.

The third sit­u­a­tion is more con­tro­ver­sial: where a strike causes a “na­tional cri­sis”.

The CCMA will come up with an im­par­tial deal for the em­ployer and work­ers to con­sider.

– De­wald van Rens­burg

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