NEDLAC has confirmed that COSATU has complied with s77 of the Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995 (LRA) in serving the necessary notices on NEDLAC. The activities on 7 October 2016 will therefore constitute protected protest action and will not be a strike, despite COSATU calling it such. Similarly, the activities on 7 October 2015 were called a national strike but were in fact protected protest action.
Section 77 of the LRA provides for “protest action to promote or defend socio-economic interests of workers” and covers a much larger scope of demands than those of mutual interest between employee and employer.
The demands that COSATU wishes to “fight for” are:
- “Demand the total banning of the labour brokers.
- Demand the scrapping of the e-tolling system including the expensive toll gates.
- Fight in defence of our Jobs and against retrenchments.
- Demand the implementation of the Legislated National Minimum Wage.
- Fight to defend and protect our Collective Bargaining Agreements.
- Fight for compliance with Occupational Health and Safety Standards in all workplaces.
- Fight for the implementation of the NHI.
- Fight for the scrapping of the Taxation Amendment Law.
- Demand the implementation of Free Education.”
Any employee is entitled to participate in the protected protest action and may not be disciplined for being absent from work. Participating employees enjoy the same protection as in the case of a protected strike. However, the principle of no-work-no-pay will apply.
Any employee engaged in an essential service may not participate in the protest action. Employees in a maintenance service may participate if permitted by the agreement regulating the maintenance service.
It is not yet clear whether any of the non-COSATU unions will take part in the protest action organised by COSATU.
It is also not clear how widespread the protest action will be. Some of the COSATU regions have already indicated that they will support the project.