Collective agreement signed with TOLCON LEHUMO to end strike
All unions have agreed to end the truck drivers strike, following a meeting with the RFEA. demonstrated in the Johannesburg CBD on 2 October, Members of Satawu,the Motor Transport Workers' Union (MTWU), the. It was hoped negotiations would end the impasse last week, however, they ended in a deadlock following a two-day meeting with the. The South African Transport and Allied workers Union (Satawu), in the Western Cape said the burning and stoning of trucks has Yesterday striking truck drivers held a meeting in Salt River to receive an update on wage Talks to end the strike are scheduled to continue on Wednesday. Post Published: 02 October
This might, in turn, frustrate labour peace and economic development, other important purposes of the Act. The specific purpose of warning employers of a proposed strike may have at least two consequences for the employer. The employer may either decide to prevent the intended power play by giving in to the employee demands, or, may take other steps to protect the business when the strike starts.
The language and purpose of section 64 1 b require that a specific time for the commencement of the proposed strike be set out in the written notice. The notice tells the other party that words are about to escalate into deeds, and by that token offers a last-gasp and pressure-cooker invitation to settle; more orderly industrial action.
Industrial action is inherently volatile.
A lead-in notice affords some opportunity to regulate the event, for instance through agreed or imposed picket rules; damage limitation. Strikes in particular are intended to cause financial loss, but a notice requirement checks some of the more gratuitous associated damage. For instance, an employer working with perishable goods can take steps to protect stock once it knows that action is imminent; health and safety considerations. In the case of certain operations, an orderly wind-down of production might prevent or limit health and safety risks to employees and the public.
The wording of section 64 1 b is clear enough about what the strike notice should contain. But the provisions say nothing about who must issue the notice of the commencement of the strike and who it must cover.
According to the applicants, this reinforces their literal interpretation of the provisions that once a notice has been issued it is not necessary for every striking employee to have given it to strike lawfully.
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Who issues the notice is therefore not important and who is covered need not be specified. I find difficulty with this proposition. To my mind, the absence of an identified subject in this regard creates ambiguity that cannot be cured by a literal approach to the wording of the section. As the Supreme Court of Appeal found, if a notice gives an employer no indication of which of its employees might strike, it is nigh impossible to conceive how the employer will prepare properly for the impending power play.
And, if it resists, how will it take proper steps to protect its business, the employees and the public and engage meaningfully in pre-strike regulatory discussions regarding issues such as picketing rules?
It was argued that these possible hurdles would render the lawfulness of a strike uncertain. This argument is quite seductive at first blush. This is particularly so having regard to the importance of the right to strike as a critical bargaining weapon used by employees in the exercise of collective power against employers who enjoy greater social and economic power 28 and the likely vulnerability of non-unionised employees in the power play.
But the spectre of debilitating problems may be more apparent than real. Problems need not arise on a proper, non-technical and sensible reading of the relevant words, taking into account the primary objects and overall purpose of the Act which, incidentally, seeks to protect and balance the interests of both employees and employers. To illustrate this point, the Court used one of a number of examples postulated in the Labour Appeal Court dissent.
The example assumes an employer with 10 employees at various sites across the country. Two non-unionised employees stationed in a small town are dissatisfied with their particular work conditions. The majority union at the workplace has no interest in their cause. They refer a dispute to the CCMA which subsequently issues a certificate of non-resolution. One of them issues a notice that they both intend to strike. The employer does not consider the threat sufficiently serious to warrant yielding to their demands and implements minimal measures to deal with their absence.
On the day of the strike, most of the workforce across the country participates in the strike in support of the two employees. Had the employer known that the majority of its employees would strike it would have acceded to the demands of the two employees or taken contingency measures to prevent the chaos which results in the workplace.
The applicants dismissed this example as fanciful. Even if all employees gave notice, so continued the contention, the employer still would not know who would strike with any certainty. It would base its contingency preparations on its knowledge of the history and the nature of the dispute, the failed negotiations and its interaction with the workforce.
In my view, it starkly shows the absurdity that may result from the interpretation the applicants advance; an interpretation that renders lawful even the unheralded participation in a strike by a workforce where only two persons, acting solely in their own interests, without any mandate from their co-employees, have issued a strike notice. It shows clearly the disorder that may result where the employer has no idea who of its employees may strike.
It does not help to argue that the employer invariably relies on the history of dealings between the parties to determine who may potentially strike, as this may not be as useful a gauge as was contended by the applicants. The number of employees willing to carry on with the dispute after a failed conciliation may well change for any number of reasons, including simply balking at the prospect once faced with the stark reality of a strike.
South African Transport Strike Ends
It is so that industrial action is, by its very nature, disruptive. However, although strikes are generally intended to impose a punitive cost on an employer in order to force its hand and achieve a desired goal, the striking employees themselves and the public too suffer the brunt of the disruption.
An interpretation that results in chaos and disturbs the desired balance of labour relations that is fair to both employees and employers is untenable. The fact that it is effectively exercised collectively does not change its true nature.
It remains an individual right exercised by individual choice as is evident from the wording of both the Constitution and the Act. To have any worth, it must be connected to the person who intends to exercise it.SATAWU has announced its members will go on strike.
It must follow that notice of that intention, which, significantly, protects the employee as well, must be given by or on behalf of all those intending to exercise the right. And on that score, non-unionised employees have relatively simple options available to them which make it unnecessary that each employee must individually issue a separate notice.
They may compile a record of their particulars or seek inclusion in the notice of the trade union if there is one at their workplace. What is ultimately required is a notice that makes it possible for the employer to reasonably identify the employees that may strike.
And whilst this requirement may well place a burden on the exercise of the right to strike, the constitutionality of the provisions is not in the balance and it is therefore unnecessary to resolve the question. The section is worded slightly differently to section 64 1 b and seems to draw a distinction between unionised and non-unionised employees.
Such an interpretation is clearly untenable. Similarly unacceptable, as in the case of a strike notice, would be any possibility that a group of employers involved in a dispute could rely on a notice issued only by one of them to lawfully lock-out their employees.
By parity of reasoning, the recourse to lock-out must, necessarily, be approached in the same manner as its counterpart. The absence of foodstuffs has resulted in empty shelves at supermarkets across South Africa, but in other key economic sectors consumers have not yet felt a dramatic effect.
Delays and the non-delivery of fuel have caused some service stations in small towns to run dry, but the South African Petroleum Industry Association's contingency plans have prevented any real disruption to normal traffic in major urban centres.
Some ATMs around the country were reported to have run out of cash, but according to Luyanda Tetyana, Banking Association of South Africa spokesperson, money was generally available. Satawu is reported to have been reluctant to sign a three-year wage deal and has vowed to intensify its strike action.
Satawu vows to increase pressure for 12% increase | News | National | M&G
Solidarity strike With reference to previous statements by trade union federation Cosatu's general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi supporting the strike, Masoga said: This includes harbour workers, ship dockers and train routers. The aim is to halt the imports sector and the delivery of goods across the country.
Intensified disruptions could close off other options for delivery. According to clearing agent Sumaya Khatib, "goods are stuck and there is nothing we can do about it. Meanwhile, it is pushing up prices because of unnecessary storage costs. Wholesale company Kiraz imports pots, furniture and household textiles from China and has been unable to supply goods to its retailers in South Africa.
Truck drivers who have risked delivery faced violent abuse and intimidation. Standstill But business has not come to a complete standstill because the company has sufficient stock at hand. Some truck drivers drove through the night to deliver goods. Because the company's goods are non-perishable, a portion was delivered by rail from the ports in Durban to Johannesburg.
Pandor said she was also concerned about the effect on employment in the area. We employ an average of five people a week, so all those people don't have anything to do," she said.