Finweek English Edition

Workers held accountabl­e for damages

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Although South Africa has not seen looting and damage to property on the scale of the July insurrecti­on, it is known for its violent strikes, says Patrick Deale, labour lawyer at Deale Attorneys.

“We have all experience­d a strike by municipal workers who trash the city with rubbish, or workers marching in the streets, going on a rampage and looting from vendors on the streets. ”

In 2013, union members embarked on an unprotecte­d strike that lasted for two weeks. The company, In2Food, secured an urgent interdict from the Labour Court against the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) and certain employees. However, the strike continued with numerous acts of violence. The company suffered damages of R16m. The union was fined R500 000.

The Labour Court has been taking a stronger stance on public violence during strikes. In the KPMM Road and Earthworks (Pty) Ltd v Associatio­n of Mineworker­s & Constructi­on Union (Amcu) case the union was subjected to a fine of R1m, suspended for three years. The employees were subjected to a fine of R1 000, which the employer could immediatel­y deduct from their salaries. ■

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