Constantia Park Weltevredenpark Roodepoort Gauteng 1709 South Africa


INTERESTING BUT UNSETTLING FACTS from the recently published 2014 INDUSTRIAL ACTION REPORT as published by the Department of Labour

  • 10 264 775 working days were lost due to strikes in 2014.
    • This is effectively equivalent to 39 480 employees NOT WORKING for a full year!
    • Businesses’ productivity and (un)employment is suffering as a result of employee relationships and work practices.


  • Trends in the number of work stoppages reported:


  • 2014 saw fewer strikes but they lasted for longer periods
    • In 2014, the strikes lasted for 16-20 days on average, unlike in 2013 where most strikes lasted an average 1-5 working days.
    • Therefore, more days and hours were lost although fewer (118 566) employees were involved.
  • Strikes have a severe negative impact on the economy.
    • In 2014 about R6.1 billion were lost in wages due to strikes, in comparison to R6.7 billion in 2013. This does not reflect the greater impact on the economy. (This equates to about 1m jobs paid at about R6 000 per month!)
    • In many industries, wage settlements were lower than the initial demands by unions.


  • Key features of industrial actions in 2014:
    • Most strikes occurred in the community, social and personal services industry followed by the manufacturing industry. Few strikes were recorded in the Finance and Utilities industries.
    • Wages, bonus and other compensation disputes remain the main reason for work stoppages in 2014 at 98.4% of working days lost.


  • The trade union accounting for most workdays lost as a result of industrial disputes in 2014 was:
    • AMCU (92.2%); followed by
    • NUMSA (2.59%); and
    • NUM (1.4%).
    • The above is unlike 2013 where SATAWU had more members participating in strikes and more working days lost.

The following are also significant facts:

  •  48% of strikes were unprotected and 52% were protected strikes – you may not see a strike coming!
  • In 2013 and 2014 strike incidents were mostly recorded from companies of less than 49 employees in 2014: Small employers are more at risk.

What does this mean for your business? Prevention is better than cure.

  • To prevent employees from participating in industrial action you have to ensure that you:
    • build good employee relationships
    • entrench good HR practices; and
    • win the trust of your employees.
  • Refresh your negotiotion skills.
    • Often union representatives are far better skilled than management representatives due to continuous training and development by strong unions.
    • Ensure your consultations and negotiations adopt a win-win approach as far as possible.
  • Prepare yourself for potential strike action.
    • Yes, it can happen to you!
    • Prepare a business continuity plan beforehand and attend training in how to deal with strikes.

Compiled by:
Rene de Waal
IR, HR Training Consultant
Bruniquel & Associates (Pty) Ltd
For Consulting and Training in Human Resources, Employee Relations and Leadership, click here.

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