Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) has received queries in relation to the proposed protest action scheduled by COSATU for tomorrow, 27 September 2017.

BUSA has compiled a number of frequently ask questions (FAQs) about the proposed action. This is not intended to replace legal advice and internal policies that apply but rather to provide information.

Is the Protest Action lawful?

Yes. COSATU referred a s77(1)(b) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) application to Nedlac. The matter was considered at the plenary meeting on 15 August 2017 and was unresolved. A certificate was issued on 22 August
2017. COSATU lodged thes77(1)(d) notice of intention to proceed with protest action on4 September 2017. The protest action is therefore authorised in terms of the LRA.

What is the reason for the Protest Action?

COSATU has launched the action against State Capture and Corruption that is affecting the jobs of workers. COSATU calls for :• The implementation of the Judicial Commission of Enquiry, • The State to cancel commercial dealings with the Gupta family and seize their assets,• The blacklisting of others involved in state capture and investigating of Government Ministers implicated in alleged state capture.

Is this the only Protest Action planned by COSATU?

No. COSATU has lodged other notices of protest action in the recent past: • 21 June 2017: Renewable Energy and Closure of Coal Mines to stop government from buying renewable energy at the expense of jobs and as an excuse to privatise Eskom.• 21 August 2017: Economic crisis, calling for restrictions on retrenchment and the imposition of compulsory job-creation mechanisms.

What form is the Protest Action likely to take?

COSATU is calling for a national stay-away or socio-economic strike on 27 September 2017. This will be accompanied by rallies, marches, demonstrations, pickets.  Is this isolated Protest Action?
There has been a significant increase in socio-economic protest action since the cabinet reshuffle and ratings downgrades in April this year.

In the run-up to the December 2017 elective conference and the general elections in 2019, we can expect to see this trend continue as civil society and organised labour voice concern and mobilise support.  What is BUSA’s position?
Notwithstanding BUSA’s support of the objectives of this protest action, BUSA does not support that Businesses create special allowances in relation to this protest action.  BUSA has clearly expressed itself on the issues of corruption and State capture and will continue to raise its voice in this regard.

BUSA unequivocally endorses the call for the State to act decisively, in line with the Constitution and the rule of law, to root out the scourge of corruption.  BUSA is of the view that, regardless of the objective of the protest action, Businesses need to apply the law, enable employees wishing to participate in the protest action to do so on a ‘no-work no-pay’ basis and in line with the company procedures in this regard.

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. What precedent does a Business create in relation to how it deals with Protest Action?

Businesses should be cautious about applying differential treatment to protest action regardless of whether the objective of the action is supported. This can create unwanted expectations and precedents in relation to future action where the protest action objective is not supported.  Frequently, protest action is not pursued in isolation but along with other objectives of the proponent. This creates a risk that a Business may inadvertently enable support for protest action objectives that may be contrary to its interests.

What are the other union Federations doing?

FEDUSA, NACTU and SAFTU have confirmed that they are not supporting the protest action although they are also unequivocal in their opposition to state capture and corruption.

As always, businesses are advised to take the necessary precautionary measures to protect people and property in close proximity to such action. We hope that action will be peaceful and that the outcome will be in the best interests of the country.

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