The intervention by the Court to suspend a picket is a big hurdle to cross. The suggestion by the Court of contempt of Court proceeding on an urgent basis seems to be the way to go. Clover SA (Pty) Ltd v General Industries Workers Union of South Africa and others.

The Labour Court (LC) ordered the union and employees to comply with picketing rules set by the CCMA and were further interdicted from committing violent acts during a protected strike.

Section 69(2) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) instructs the Court to intervene and grant urgent relief either by suspending the rules or by varying them. The Court found that an order suspending the right to picket should not be granted lightly and the onus rests on the employer to prove that this action is necessary.

The employer’s concern was warranted by the intervention of the EFF, a member of which had made inflammatory comments in a speech to strikers in the picketing area. This single incident was not enough to justify suspending the strikers’ right to picket peacefully.

The Court found that contempt of court proceedings would have been better suited to enforce compliance with the picketing rules, which would have formed an adequate alternative remedy to the present application. There was nothing to indicate that the picketing rules themselves were inadequate. The employer had, accordingly, failed to make out a case for a variation or suspension of the picketing rules.

The application was dismissed.


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