Rumours of industrial action

South African Engineers and Founders Association

23 July 2021

There are rumours doing the rounds that strike action is planned to start from next week Wednesday.   Please take careful note that protected strike action is not possible in the next few, to several weeks at least.  In order for protected strike action to take place, the parties to a negotiation need to deadlock.  This hasn’t happened yet and as the next negotiating meeting between any of the parties to the MEIBC is next week Wednesday (between SEIFSA and the unions).  Once there is a deadlock, a party may declare a dispute against the others by filing the requisite forms with the MEIBC.  This may be done next week Wednesday, at the earliest.  From there, the MEIBC General Secretary, together with the President of the Council are required to call a Manco within 14 days, the purpose of which is to allow the parties to decide on how they want to resolve the dispute.  They can choose one of four options:

  1. to appoint a sub-committee to meet within a specified number of days, for the purposes of attempting to resolve the dispute or to recommend to the Management Committee a process by which the dispute can be resolved;
  2. referring the dispute to conciliation, provided that this shall be compulsory, in the case of a dispute involving a non-party to the Council;
  3. referring the dispute to arbitration;
  4. instructing the Secretary to issue a certificate stating that the dispute remains unresolved.

Since the dispute will involve non-parties to the Council, option 2 needs to be chosen.  A date for the conciliation needs to be set and the parties need to attempt to resolve the dispute at said conciliation.  Only if they can’t resolve the dispute, or a period of 30 days has lapsed from the declaration of the dispute, will any party be able to provide 48 hours’ notice of intended strike action.  Reasonable accommodation of all of the above means that protected strike action is only probable towards the end of August at the earliest.