We have received queries in relation to the proposed protest action by SAFTU affiliates (ICTU, NUPSAW & SALIPSWU) for 25 April 2018. Please note the following Q&A. This is not intended to replace legal advice and internal policies that apply, but rather to provide information to members.
Is the Protest Action lawful?
Yes. Three unions, the Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU), the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW) and the South African Liberated Public Service Workers Union (SALIPSWU), referred a s77(1)(b) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) application to NEDLAC. The matter was considered at a number of meetings throughout 2017 and a plenary session was held on 29 September 2017 with some of the issues raised by the applicants remaining unresolved. Following this, the Standing Committee granted the three applicants a Section 77 Certificate to embark on a protest action after having given the required notice. The three applicants duly gave notice of intention to proceed with the protest action on 25 April 2018 in terms of s 77(1)(d). The protest action is therefore authorised in terms of the LRA.
What is the reason for the Protest Action?
ICTU, NUPSAW and SALIPSWU have launched the action against the proposed National Minimum Wage, Economic Policy and the inability of Government to provide free, effective and appropriate education at all levels.
What form is the Protest Action likely to take?
The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), to whom the three applicants are affiliated to, has made a call for a national shutdown of the economy on 25 April 2018. This will most likely be accompanied by rallies, marches, demonstrations, pickets. NEDLAC has raised the issue that it is SAFTU and not the three applicants, that issued the call and has asked for comments from the Standing Committee regarding this matter.
Any other Protest Actions?
A section 77 application was lodged by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) regarding ‘Strike Provisions’. The NUMSA notice was deemed by the Standing Committee as not having been considered, with the consequence that any pursuant protest action by NUMSA would not be protected under the LRA.
Should businesses allow employee’s time off to participate in the Protest Action?
The protest action is legally protected, which means that employees (unless they are employed in an essential service or a maintenance service) may not be dismissed or disciplined for participating in the protest action. Any employee, regardless of trade union affiliation has the freedom to participate in lawful protest action. The ‘no work no pay’ principle should apply. This means that if employees take time to participate in the protest action:
- Employees must work in the time, or
- Should not be paid for the time.
As always, businesses are advised to take the necessary precautionary measures to protect people and property in close proximity to such action.