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Labour Disputes Under Lockdown: A Basic Guide

What happens in the case of labour disputes under lockdown?

For those employers that have qualified as essential services, will your employees be permitted to lawfully strike whilst the lockdown remains in place? Employees across the sectors have threatened to strike as a result of a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) and wage negotiations. When will these strikes be lawful and why should facilitated negotiations or mediation be relied upon to resolve employer-employee disputes?


1. What is the right to strike?

The right to strike is protected by the Constitution and the Labour Relations Act (“LRA”). According to the latter Act, a strike is defined as:

“The partial or complete concerted refusal to work, or the retardation or obstruction of work, by persons who are or have been employed by the same employer or by different employers, for the purpose of remedying a grievance or resolving a dispute in respect of any matter of mutual interest between employer and employee…”

2. When is a strike lawful?