Strikes and Lock-Outs: The Rights of Employees and Employers

The Labour Relations Act 66 of 1997 as amended (hereinafter referred as to the “LRA”), regulates the law relating to strikes and lock-outs. The LRA provides and outlines the rights and protection provided to Employees who decide to embark on strike action. Furthermore, the LRA sets out the Employer’s recourse where his/her Employees embark on a strike.

There are various reasons why Employees would embark on a strike – the most common issues being to increase their wages and negotiating changes to their working conditions.

According to Section 213 of the LRA, a strike is defined as:

”…the partial or complete concerted refusal to work, or the retardation or obstruction of work, by persons who are or have been employed by the same employer or by different employers, for the purpose of remedying a grievance or resolving a dispute in respect of any matter of mutual interest between employer and employee”.

It is clear from the aforementioned that it would not be possible for a single individual to “strike” according to the LRA. There is an exception in terms of Section 64(4) where a single employee may strike once he/she has obtained a Certificate from the CCMA or Bargaining Council when the Employer unilaterally changes his/her working conditions. Furthermore, it is possible that the Employees that embark on a strike are not employed by a single or the same Employer.

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