Does A Strike Hit The Heart Of Your Business? Extended negotiations, drawn out demonstrations, and safety risks often result in a lose-lose situation for both parties, even when demands are met.
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A by-product of strikes is a diminished or completely non-existent workforce, often resulting in the loss of customers and production. To survive a strike, businesses need to adopt a secure strategy to mitigate losses, maintain productivity, uphold reputation and retain mutually beneficial employer-employee relationships.
The good, the bad and the ugly
Strikes occur for many reasons, and they're not always invalid, according to Sean Momberg, MD of Workforce Staffing Solutions. He explains that the common misconception that strikes take place to be maliciously disruptive or for unfair demands is incorrect.
"Workers typically strike due to a demand for increased wages or better working conditions," says Sean, "However, regardless of the reasons for a strike, they are often debilitating for businesses."
According to Joanette Nagel, Head: Commercial and Labour at Hunts Attorneys, for a strike to be deemed legal, there are certain legislated requirements that need to be met.
"According to law, protected strikes have to comply with the following: The reason needs to be something of mutual interest for both employee and employer, there needs to be at least 48 hours' notice given of the intent to strike, and the matter has to be referred to the CCMA. The CCMA then has to issue a certificate that the matter remains unresolved — for a period of 30 days — or the extension thereof as agreed between the parties has lapsed after the referral to the CCMA."
Don't strike out
"Strikes are intimidating for any business," says Sean. "However, businesses can implement measures to protect themselves, such as leveraging the assistance of a Temporary Employment Service (TES) agency, which has the resources to quickly mobilise large workforces in a short space of time."
Joanette agrees, saying that while many businesses opt to shut down operations as a precaution, this is not necessarily the best option. "Businesses have legal recourse to discipline employees who damage property or engage in intimidation tactics while striking. Furthermore, employees who are violent, abusive or cause damage to property during a strike may face additional criminal charges for their actions."
She explains that the risk of losing business and productivity far outweighs the risk of strikes becoming dangerous. "A replacement labour force ensures that doors remain open and business can continue as usual, especially when the TES agency has a reputation for meeting any employment requirements."
Business as usual
Sean points out that organisations can avoid strikes altogether, with the right TES partner.
"A reputable TES understands strikes and has the resources in place to not only assist and advise organisations who are subjected to strike action, but also to help businesses avoid them altogether. Outsourcing the HR division and the bulk of a business's labour requirements means that the responsibility for handling a strike does not lie with the business, but with its TES agency," says Sean.
"TES agencies have open and transparent relationships in place with trade unions and legal entities. They are also able to manage the staffing process from start to finish, including employee engagement, grievance handling, and matching the right people to the right positions, ensuring employee satisfaction. Organisations that outsource their staffing component, either in its entirety or when strikes arise, find that strikes will not strike out their business," concludes Sean.
The two types of strikes
1. Protected strikes:
- Sanctioned by law
- Employees forfeit their wages for the duration of the strike
- Employees' positions are not in jeopardy
- Employers are obligated to allow strikers to return to work once the strike is over.
2. Unprotected strikes:
- Do not have the backing of the law
- May result in the strikers' dismissal from employment.