The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) has expressed concern at the violence, damage to property and intimidation that is being experienced during the current wave of strike action in South Africa.
The business body said in a statement that the strikes and socio-economic protests are resulting in damage to business and the economy that go far beyond the effects of the legitimate withdrawal of labour from any one specific sector or employer.
“The damage being experienced includes destruction of property, loss of business due to the location of pickets and intimidation of non-strikers, customers and members of the public, even resulting in the deaths of individuals,” it said.
In this context, concerns about whether the rights of businesses as juristic persons are being sufficiently protected from harmful actions and inappropriate behaviour, when the right to protest activity is exercised, continue to rise. Such rights are clearly identifiable in the Constitution where they are entrenched, it added.
“While the right of labour to strike is recognised, improper behaviour resulting in damage to property, injury to persons and denial of access to businesses is unacceptable. Section 69 of the Labour Relations Act allows picketing for the purpose of peaceful demonstrations organised by trade unions.
“Although there are laws that prohibit violence and damage to property, employers advise that they are not, in practice, protected against violent and destructive behaviour,” SACCI added.
“In these times, business is forced to question why more active measures are not taken to enforce these rights for all. In this context SACCI supports the intervention of the South African Police Services where and when protest actions get out of hand.
“SACCI has asked its chambers to forward complaints from their members to it together with the contact details of their local SAPS. SACCI will then raise the issues with the SAPS on behalf of business. SACCI will also monitor developments and if necessary raise the subject with the National Commissioner,” it concluded. – I-Net Bridge