Most Read

  • MLA announces launch of Cape Town office
    Moonyeenn Lee & Associates (MLA), now the largest talent agency on the African continent, has announced that it is opening a new office in Cape Town. The launch of a representative office in the heart of one of South Africa's premier film destinations follows fast on the heels of a recent announcement that the agency would be representing screenwriters and directors alongside the leading talent already in the stable. Issued by Moonyeenn Lee & Associates (MLA)
  • Woolworths rolls out virtual beauty services in SA
    Woolworths has launched two new digital beauty experiences, Virtual Try On and Virtual Consultations, which are designed to help consumers reinvent their beauty shopping experience at home and gain more confidence before making a purchase.
  • Kaya 959 gives away R1,000 an hour every hour in May
    After 12 years of being 'The Home of the Afropolitan', we are excited to introduce our latest evolution - Kaya 959. On the Street. On the Air. Our new brand identity is about highlighting Kaya 959 as a radio station for all. Issued by KAYA 959
Show more

Africa

More...Submit news

Covid-19

Business services
Advertise on Bizcommunity

Subscribe to industry newsletters

Carrying weapons during strike action can get you dismissed

In the case of Pailpac (Pty) Ltd v De Beer N.O and Others, the Labour Appeal Court (LAC) recently confirmed that it is fair to dismiss employees who carry weapons during a strike and that employers can reasonably expect employees to know that having dangerous weapons at work (or during a strike) is unacceptable and a dismissible offence.
© Kristaps Eberlins – 123RF.com

The dismissed employees were Numsa members employed by Pailpac, who participated in a protected strike, during which they carried weapons (sticks, PVC rods, sjamboks, and golf clubs). They were charged for "brandishing and wielding weapons during a strike".

The employees referred an unfair dismissal dispute to the Metal and Engineering Industry Bargaining Council (MEIBC) for arbitration, where their dismissals were found to be unfair. Pailpac applied to the Labour Court to review the arbitration award but the Labour Court upheld it. Pailpac then appealed to the LAC.

Awareness of strike rules


The primary issue was to determine whether the dismissed employees were aware of the rule not to carry weapons during the strike. The picketing rules were placed on the official notice board where employees obtained various work-related information, for example what doctors they could see etc. It was clear to the LAC that the dismissed employees were fully aware of their obligation to read the notices and other communications posted on the board. Accordingly, the LAC found that the employees were aware, or could reasonably have been expected to be aware, of the picketing policy. While this judgment turned on the question of employees being aware of workplace rules, the LAC stated that any reasonable employee would in any event know that having dangerous weapons at work is not acceptable.

In terms of the sanction of dismissal, the LAC therefore held that:
[30] As acknowledged by the arbitrator in her award, any reasonable employee would know that bringing a dangerous weapon to work would not be tolerated. Thus, to do so in flagrant disregard of a clear workplace rule which prohibits such conduct during a picket or strike, and expressly warns that the consequence of the breach is the sanction of dismissal.
The practical relevance of this judgment is the test to be applied when employees claim that they were not aware of workplace rules. The correct test is not only whether the employees were aware of the rule, but also whether they could reasonably be expected to be aware of it. It is also relevant that the LAC confirmed that sticks, pipes, sjamboks, and golf clubs are "dangerous weapons", a term which is usually found in picketing rules.

About the author

Lizle Louw, Shane Johnson and Justin de Wet by Webber Wentzel
Comment

Related

News

Let's do Biz