Government welcomes the decision by the Labour Court this morning to grant the state an interdict prohibiting workers who are employed in essential services from participating in the strike. The essential services are defined in the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995.
Further, the interdict also prevents workers from participating in unlawful acts such as intimidation, assault, molesting, victimization of non-striking public service employees and members of the public (including patients at hospitals and scholars and teachers at schools); the prevention of non-striking employees and members of the public who wants to enter any building, hospital, school, border post and other premises belonging to the State; the damage of any property belonging to the State; the erection of obstructions and/or barricades to any property of the State;
Dedicated courts have already been activated to deal with cases of transgressions related to the strike. Anyone who commits any acts of criminality during the strike will be prosecuted promptly. We appeal to all public servants to behave properly and not to expose themselves to prosecution.
The public sector unions that are participating in the strike will pay the costs of this application.
The application for the interdict follows the decision of a meeting of the Ministers from the Security and Social clusters that took place yesterday morning in Pretoria. While government acknowledges the right of public servants and other workers to withdraw their labour as a result of the wage dispute, Government finds the conduct of some of the striking workers to be unacceptable as it undermines the rights of South African citizens who are not part of the strike. It is unreasonable to expect government not to act to protect the rights of other citizens. The country has witnessed unacceptable behaviour such as the disruption of schools, prevention of medical staff from performing essential health treatment of desperately ill patients, prevention of citizens from accessing hospitals and clinics, intimidation and assault of learners who were trying to continue with their studies.
Government calls on union leaders to impress upon their members that while they have the right to strike, they also have the responsibility to ensure that the rights of citizens are respected at all times. The union leaders have a responsibility to educate their members about the need to restrain themselves during strikes and not to embark on illegal activities.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)