n Acta Juridica - The necessary evolution of strike law

Volume 2012, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1346
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2088



The Labour Relations Act sets out to promote 'orderly collective bargaining' and regulates the right to strike as an essential element of collective bargaining. In a number of aspects, however, ranging from violence erupting in the course of strike action to the practical exclusion of large sections of the workforce from exercising the right to strike (or any other form of economic pressure in support of bargaining demands) it has become apparent that the current model is in need of adjustment. Examining this model in the context of globalisation and the prevalence of non-standard employment, the contribution considers seven areas of possible legislative development: individual versus collective action, the prohibition of strikes over 'disputes of right', dispute resolution in essential services, the demarcation of sectors, 'primary' and 'secondary' strikes, conciliation of disputes that may give rise to strikes, and the creation of greater space for co-determination as opposed to adversarialism. The contribution concludes by noting the virtual absence of any amendment to the framework of strike law since the enactment of the Labour Relations Act in 1995 and argues that 'proposals for the rationalisation of collective bargaining and strike law need to find their way on to the legislative agenda'. (Since the writing of the contribution, the Labour Relations Amendment Bill approved by Cabinet on 20 March 2012 put forward a number of proposed amendments to strike law, including at least one change to the regulation of dispute resolution in essential services which is argued for in the contribution.)

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