Cosatu mulls challenge to strike ruling

2011-09-28 17:27

Bloemfontein - Trade union federation Cosatu is studying the implications of a court ruling that trade unions can be held liable for damages caused during strikes, it said on Wednesday.

Cosatu said it would challenge any ruling seeking to place the liability for the violent actions of a few individuals on the shoulders of trade unions.

"Should this be the implication contained in the judgment, the federation would have no other choice but to take this matter up with the Constitutional Court," it said.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed an appeal by the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union in relation to protests in May 2006.

The judgment upheld a decision by the Western Cape High Court, in which eight people claimed damages from the union.

The group included traders whose stalls were looted and smashed and motorists whose vehicles were wrecked.

The unanimous SCA judgment accepted that assemblies, pickets, marches and demonstrations were essential instruments of dialogue in society.

However, it held that the struggle for workers' rights should take place within legal limits and with due regard for the rights of others.

"We should not now be subjected to the tyranny of the mob," the court held.

Democratic Alliance labour spokesperson Ian Ollis said the court's ruling had vindicated the DA's private member's bill on the same subject.

Ollis said the latest development was "incredibly important" as it suggested that the Gatherings Act could already be used to hold unions liable for strike violence.

He welcomed the finding that unions should be held liable for damages during strike actions.

  • Democrat - 2011-09-28 18:14

    A victory for law and order!

  • vtowntekkie - 2011-09-28 18:32

    You break,you pay!!!

  • PyroSA - 2011-09-28 19:14

    I expected Cosatu to challenge this, I just hope the decision holds. Currently there is no incentive towards ensuring a peaceful strike action as there is no penalty if it does turn nasty.

  • Appietrader - 2011-09-28 19:35

    Hope Cosatu takes this to the Con court. Hopefully the judges will agree with this judgement. Then if these workers want to strike, it must happen in civil and orderly manner, or they will pay up. If the unions must be held liable they will get the money from the members, so they will behave!

  • Sambok - 2011-09-29 07:45

    Hopefully this will bancrupt the unions.

  • coconuts - 2011-09-30 17:55

    I hope this prompts a flurry of charges being made against them for the recent strikes - especially where someone was murdered!!

  • Marie - 2011-09-30 18:49

    I still do not understand that the union does not pay its members for the days they are striking. This is usual practise overseas? There are membership fees available, which could also serve to pay for any damages. Where is the money????

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