Volume: Volume 25 - 2021
Article type: Refereed article
Author/s: Mlungisi Tenza
The law entrusts employers with a duty to provide employees with safe and healthy working conditions. However, it becomes challenging to discharge this duty if employees embark on a violent strike. The violence is usually directed or instigated against non-striking workers and replacement labour. Since violence during strikes has become a norm in the Republic and affects both the way employers conduct their business and the staff that are not on strike, the article suggests that employers should arm and prepare themselves for the worse conditions.
The non-striking employees become vulnerable to attacks by fellow striking employees. The result is that the production or delivery of services is interrupted or does not occur. The law is not clear on what should happen to employees who do not discharge their duties as a result of fearing for their lives.
The article submits that due to fragile conditions during a violent strike, the employer should provide employees with unpaid leave to protect them from violence. This may alleviate fears that such employees might lose employment due to absence from work. The article further suggests that unions should demonstrate a form of social responsibility when negotiating with the employer.