In terms of s205(3)(a) of the Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995 (LRA), an employer must record details of strike, lockout or protest action in LRA Form 9.2 (LRA form).

The 2014 Industrial Action Report, and specifically Chapter 4: Profile of Work Stoppages, provides a brief overview of strike activities that occurred and were mentioned in the Department of Labour’s media monitoring system in the year of 2014. It provides evidence on how the strike data system was frequently updated and maintained for the benefit of all interested parties. These kinds of disputes affect small, medium and big companies in the country. However, not all strike incidents are captured due to other limitations.

Some industrial action does not come to the attention or knowledge of the department’s officials. Although employers are expected to complete the LRA form after experiencing a labour dispute, some do not complete or send the form to the department for capturing. These labour disputes are then not recorded or identified by the department.

The Industrial Action Report takes into account all labour disputes, including those that are pre-arranged between management and employees. It also includes protest action and pickets during lunch hours and after hours, as well as protests by workers who are on leave. Employers are not expected to complete the LRA form in all of these instances as recognised industrial action can only occur during office hours and by workers who are expected to be at work.

The record keeping by the department allows it to keep track of how many incidents occur, how long they last, whether they are protected or unprotected as well as what percentage of strike action occurs in the private and public sectors. Furthermore, it allows us to see what industries are predominantly affected within those sectors. Importantly, it reflects what the main reasons for the action were. For example, wage disputes were the most common reason for people embarking on strikes in 2014. The records also tell us which trade unions have the most members participating in strikes.

The capturing of data in this regard attempts to cover the entire country and is a painstaking exercise. Participation and cooperation by employers is therefore vital to enable the process to provide statistics which are accurate and have reasonable precision.

In addition to the expectation that employers report industrial action, the department has introduced an active media monitoring programme which is used to make contact with employers and encourage their voluntary compliance with reporting requirements.

Employers are encouraged to record all industrial action in the workplace and to ensure that accurate submissions are made to the department each and every time an incident occurs. The cooperation of private sector employers will speed up the process of data collection. Our suggestion is for employers to keep blank copies of the LRA form and fill one out should industrial action arise. The LRA form should then be immediately sent to the department.