As you may be aware from recent media reports, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is preparing for a possible protest action in the form of a one-day national strike on Wednesday, 27 September 2017.
This Management Brief provides some basic background to the issue and guidance on dealing with the intended protest action.
Background to the COSATU Stay-Away
On 17 July 2017 COSATU submitted a Section 77 (1) (d) notice confirming its intention to proceed with a socio-economic protest strike action on 27 September 2017 against State capture and corruption.
COSATU indicated in its 17 July 2017 notice that the following forms of protest action and action in contemplation of and furtherance of the protest action will involve:
- rallies, demonstrations, pickets, placard demonstrations, marches and stay-aways;
- calls for solidarity campaigns that are aimed at shareholders, employees, suppliers and others alleged to be associated with State capture; and
- other forms of protest activity.
Protest Action and the Labour Relations Act
The Labour Relations Act (LRA) permits federations such as COSATU to undertake protected protest action to promote the social and economic interests of workers, provided that they observe the procedural requirements contained in Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995.
It is important to note that protest action in terms of Section 77 of the LRA is only legal or protected if the issue in dispute has been considered or finalised by NEDLAC and the union or federation (in this case COSATU) has given 14 days’ notice to NEDLAC of its intention to proceed with such protest action. In the absence of these conditions, any protest action would not be protected.
The NEDLAC Section 77 Standing Committee has determined the notice to be compliant with the administrative requirements of the LRA.
Consequently, employees participating in any action on 27 September 2017 will be protected by the normal rules regarding protected strikes, namely: no work, no pay and no disciplinary action.
Management Guidelines on Possible Absenteeism on Wednesday, 27 September 2017
SEIFSA recommends that management adopt the following course of action in dealing with any stay-away from work on 27 September 2017:
- Inform all workers that any absences related to the protest action will be treated on the following basis:
- No work, no pay;
- a shift for leave pay and leave enhancement pay qualification purposes will be lost 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 from Wednesday, 27 September 2017.
The Staff of the SEIFSA 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.