Prior to the amendment of Section 69 of the Labour Relations Act, the CCMA had the power to issue a strike certificate, effectively authorising a protected strike, without the establishment of Picketing Rules.
This caused uncertainty on the part of the employer, and the amendments seek to ensure that defined parameters are established within which picketing needs to take place.
The amendments now provide that the CCMA Commissioner conciliating the dispute must determine picketing rules at the same time as issuing the certificate allowing for a protected strike or lock-out.
It further provides that no picket in support of a protected strike or in opposition to a lock-out may take place unless the said picketing rules have been established.
In practice, this would mean that where parties reach a deadlock in a mutual interest dispute referred to the CCMA, the parties will have to reach an agreement on picketing rules and reduce same to writing on the day of the matter.
The Code of Good Practice: Picketing Rules gives parties guidelines on what needs to be addressed in the Agreement.
The agreement will cover inter alia:
- The number of employees envisaged to participate in the picket;
- Areas designated for the picket;
- Time and duration of the picket;
- Proposals by the trade union to exercise control over the picket; and
- The conduct of the picketers.
The Agreement will also need to include the relevant clauses indicating that the picketers must conduct themselves in a peaceful, unarmed and lawful manner and further include what they may and may not do.
This can include that picketers may carry placards, chant slogans, sing and dance, but that they may not physically prevent members of the public, including customers and other employees from gaining access to or leaving the employer’s premises.
It is therefore of utmost importance that should employers envisage that a deadlock will be reached at the CCMA in a mutual interest matter, same must be communicated to CEO as soon as possible in order to ensure proper preparation ahead of the matter.
Article by: Ilze Erasmus
Dispute Resolution Official – Port Elizabeth