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It is now illegal to embark on strike without a secret ballot - Registrar of Labour Relations

Media Release: The Department of Employment and Labour: 09 September 2019

 

The Office of Registrar of Labour Relations says it is now illegal to embark on a strike action before conducting a secret ballot of members.

 

In February 2019 the Office of Registrar of Labour Relations issued a notice in which he appealed to the trade unions, federations and employer organisations to use the transitional provisions in the amended Labour Relations Act (LRA) to effect necessary amendments to their constitutions that require that before engaging in a strike or lockout, parties must conduct a secret ballot of members.

 

Registrar of Labour Relations Advocate Lehlohonolo Daniel Molefe said unions and employer organisations have been accommodated to effect changes to their constitutions to cater for balloting.

 

The Labour Relations Amendment Act of 2018 came into effect on 01 January 2019. It was amended together with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) which gave birth to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) Act. The amended legislation was negotiated at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) where representatives of workers and employers including social partners meet to discuss labour market legislation and related issues.

 

The balloting guidelines were published in December 2018 by former Labour Minister, Mildred Oliphant to ensure compliance with the requirement for conducting a secret ballot.

 

Molefe said over the past five months, the Office of the Registrar of Labour Relations has been engaging stakeholders in information sessions about the issue of balloting and there were registers of attendees to that effect. He said while a number of unions and employer organisations honoured the invitations to the information sessions there were some that did not.

 

He said his office was daily receiving queries on the issue of balloting and was open for engagement on the matter.

 

Some of the stakeholders that participated in the information sessions with the Office of the Registrar of Labour Relations include employer organisations, and trade unions.

 

The guidelines on balloting for strikes or lockouts issued in terms of Section 59 (9) of the LRA relate to: that every trade union or employer’s organisation must before calling a strike or lockout conduct a ballot of members in respect of whom it intends to call the strike or lockout; a system of voting; member rights in regard to failure or refusal to participate; permit in regard to balloting; unless stipulate a requirement for a trade union to obtain the consent of the employer to hold a ballot; procedures to be followed when conducting a secret ballot. 

 

The guidelines also deal with issues of notice of a ballot, the drafting of and preparing of ballot papers, the voters roll, balloting and counting, scrutineers and observers, records of ballots, and transitional provisions. 

 

Molefe said balloting was now part of legislative framework and needs to be respected. 

 

Some of the punitive measures that can be imposed by the Registrar for non-compliance with labour legislation include: deregistration, cancellation of registration and placing the guilty party on administration.

 

Media Release: The Department of Employment and Labour: 09 September 2019

 

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