The current industrial conflict has reminded us that the threat of strikes is still a reality. Strikes in South Africa are more often than not accompanied by picketing, and picketing easily develops into violence and blockades. What are the requirements?

With companies and other organisations closing down, restructuring, merging and downsizing retrenchments are becoming more and more numerous. Despite the strict retrenchment legislation employers are frequently having to pay large sums of money to employees who have been retrenched incorrectly.

"Succession planning is not just intended for management succession at the higher levels", writes Des Squire. "It would normally imply an opportunity for learning what happens in other areas or departments so employees are available and pre-trained to move to a variety of positions as and when a need arises".

Employers complain frequently to us about "insubordinate’ and "disrespectful’ employees. But much of the time these terms are used incorrectly. Due to the fact that true insubordination goes to the heart of the employment contract it is vital that both employers and employees fully understand these terms.

The Labour relations Act (LRA) that deals with relations between trade unions and employers does not use the term "shop steward" at all. Instead the term "trade union representative' (TUR) is used. A shop steward or TUR is an employee elected by the trade union members employed at the workplace. That is, the TUR is an ordinary employee chosen by his/her fellow workers to represent them in their dealings with management.

Parties who are not happy with the decision of a CCMA arbitrator can apply to the Labour Court to review the arbitrator's conduct. That is, while the arbitrator's decision itself is not subject to appeal, the Court has the right to set aside awards and rulings of CCMA arbitrators where such decisions were made as a result of the arbitrator's misconduct.

Labour law does not exist in the statutes alone. Statutes such as the Labour Relations Act (LRA), Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Employment Equity Act deal largely with broad legal principles. Employers and employees need to look at case law for what would be considered fair in specific circumstances - and use this information to update workplace rules and employment conditions.

Arbitrator misconduct can and does occur in many different forms. Employers are able to take arbitrator decisions on review to the Labour Court, if they believe that the arbitrator has behaved irregularly. Read on to find out what behaviour would cause the Labour Court to overturn an arbitrator's award or ruling.

Many an employer has been caught napping at the CCMA because they ignored the document summoning them to appear. Although the notice of set down that the CCMA sends to employers is a relatively harmless looking document, employers ignore it at their financial peril.



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