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Introduction 

Management will be aware, from recent media reports, that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa), the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) and the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) have elected to come together to protest jointly against the harsh socio-economic conditions, high levels of poverty, crime, corruption and unemployment currently being experienced in the country. The planned national economic protest action or strike will take place on Wednesday, 7 October 2020. 

This Management Brief provides some basic background to the issue and guidance to Management in dealing with the intended protest action.

 

Protest action and the Labour Relations Act 

The Labour Relations Act (LRA) permits registered trade unions or a federation of trade unions, such as those listed above, to undertake protected protest action to promote the socio-economic interests of workers, provided that they observe the procedural requirements contained in Section 77 of the LRA.

It is important to note that protest action in terms of Section 77 of the LRA is only protected if the issue in dispute has been considered by Nedlac and the applicant/s concerned has/have given Nedlac 14 days’ notice of their intention to proceed with such protest action. In the absence of these conditions, any protest action would not be protected.

We can confirm that Cosatu filed a Section 77(1)(b) notice with Nedlac on 22 September 2020, advising of its intention to participate in a socio-economic strike action on 7 October 2020.

The Nedlac Section 77 Standing Committee has determined the notice to be compliant with the administrative requirements of the LRA, opening the way for employees to take part in the intended protest action.

Consequently, employees participating in any form of socio-economic protest action on Wednesday, 7 October 2020 will be protected by the rules regarding protected protest action to promote or defend the socio-economic interest of workers, namely: no-work, no-pay and no-disciplinary action.

 Recommended management action

SEIFSA recommends that Management adopts the following course of action in dealing with any stay-away on Wednesday, 7 October 2020:

  • Inform all employees that any absences related to the protest action will be treated on the following basis:
  • No work, no pay;
  • No disciplinary action;
  • A shift for leave pay and leave enhancement pay qualification purposes will be forfeited in respect of the day’s absence; and
  • Any overtime worked during the course of the week will be paid at ordinary rates to make up for the lost ordinary working hours on 7 October

The Staff of SEIFSA’s Industrial Relations and Legal Services Division are available on (011) 298-9400 to provide any further advice and/ or assistance to Management on the contents of this Management Brief.

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