Strike Proof your business
Strikes are an almost daily part of South African life. While businesses are theoretically protected by law during strike action, the reality is that intimidation and damage to property are often the order of the day. Proper emergency planning for a strike is essential.
Gather as much information about the strike action as possible. Does the strike apply to all of your employees, or are employees such as admin staff excluded? Is it an internal matter, or is a national strike? If it’s a national strike you can assume that people other than your employees will attend the strike and will congregate outside of your property. Remember that employers have the right to lock out striking employees.
Your ability to continue operations will strongly depend on the details around the strike. Scab labour will almost always antagonize the protesting employees; it is also very difficult to secretly ferry scab labourers onto a site. The safest option is to limit the amount of operations at the business, and if possible to keep non-essential employees offsite. To this end computer based employees could be housed offsite at another location.
Plan and prepare for trouble. Evaluate the physical strength of access control structures. Gates should be locked and given extra bolstering. Add chains, locks and other solid barriers. Consider on which side of your building the protesters will gather. The area will need extra security, structures such as boom gates are not adequate for this type of event. The building needs to be locked down with strong physical structures. Where possible company vehicles should be locked away or even kept off site.
Cameras can be a useful post incident tool, especially in the case where violence or destruction to property occurs. Ensure that you have cameras facing the protestor gathering area. Cameras should be out of direct reach and preferably placed on the inside of the property. It is not wise to directly film or photograph protestors as this will inflame the situation. While reviewing your CCTV system, check that the system is recording and that the time and date stamp is correct. It is also worth checking other electronic security systems such as alarms and panic buttons.
Lastly, contact your local SAPS sector commander and security provider. Request a meeting where and discuss the dynamics of the strike action. Ensure that you and other people that will be onsite, have a direct line to your local police. Depending on the structure of your property it may be necessary to bolster security manpower. Security staff should be stationed inside the property to limit physical contact with the strikers. Brief the team before the start to the say. Discuss various scenarios and rules of engagement. Consider what action is to be taken in the event that the strikers enter the property.