On Friday 19 October 2018 the Labour Court ruled that the NUMSA Plastics industry strike is a protected strike, and declined to grant the interdict applied for by the Plastics Convertors Industry of South Africa.
The union is demanding better wages for increased working hours in the sector, as well as better working conditions for employees. It is alleged that the minimum wage paid has decreased from R40 an hour to R20 an hour, while the working hours have increased from 40 hours a week to 45 hours a week. Some employees have also been notified that they will no longer be receiving bonuses and other benefits that they previously enjoyed under the MEIBC main agreement.
NUMSA informed employers of the strike nationally by releasing press statements and reporting their intent to strike in the media. The strike has been ongoing as of Monday 15 October.
What can you as an employer do?
Negotiate with the Union and attempt to reach an agreement on terms to end the strike
Negotiate with the Union to put a picketing agreement in place to regulate the manner in which employees may strike in relation to your company premises
Go to the CCMA to apply for picketing rules to regulate how employees may strike in relation to your company premises if no agreement can be reached with the union
The No work - no pay principle applies and striking employees are not entitled to payment while the strike continues
Institute a defensive Lock out and hire replacement labourers to continue with the work while the strike is ongoing
It is important to remember that violent or illegal behaviour during strikes is not protected. Take videos and pictures of any illegal or violent behaviour during strikes to ensure you have evidence of the culprits. Disciplinary action may then be taken against employees for such misconduct, and employees could still be legally dismissed.
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