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Oliphant: No excuse for lawless strikes

Sep 27 2012 07:37 Sapa

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant (File, Beeld)

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Johannesburg - South African legislation provides for protected peaceful strikes, which should obviate the need for illegal strikes accompanied by violence, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said on Wednesday.

In a statement she said that the constitution and the Labour Relations Act give workers the legal right to demonstrate their grievances to the public and other workers who have chosen not to strike.

"There is therefore no justification for the recent wave of unprocedural strikes when the legal requirements are so clear and straightforward."

There could "be no debate" that strikes and pickets should be conducted peacefully.

"There can be no excuse for lawlessness," said Oliphant.

She dismissed economic and academic commentators who criticised government for "what they call lack of effective intervention".

Through the Labour Relations Act the government has established mechanisms to deal with labour-related issues.

"For government to simply jump in on labour market operational issues carries the risk of undermining the role of the very institutions that it has set up," she said.

A wave of unprotected strikes recently hit the mining sector.

In early August workers at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in the North West downed tools demanding monthly pay of R12 500.

Ten people were killed in violence associated with the strike before August 16, when another 34 were killed when police opened fire on protesters at nearby Wonderkop.

Although the workers returned to work after negotiating a 22% pay rise and a once-off bonus of R2 000 each, illegal strikes have spread to other mines.

Two weeks ago workers at Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] (also known as Amplats) in Rustenburg embarked on an illegal strike.

Workers at Gold Fields' KDC West mine went on a wildcat strike on September 9, then at the West Section of Beatrix (formerly Oryx Mine) on Friday, and at the rest of the Beatrix mine by Monday.

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