Knobkerries, sticks and a sjambok are not traditional weapons to be brandished at a strike. Times Select says that is the lesson for five Pinetown workers whose dismissal five years ago – for carrying the weapons during a 2014 strike initiated by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA – was upheld by the Labour Court of Appeal in Durban.

Despite a CCMA ruling in favour of the employees – who cited they were exercising their traditional and customary right to carry sticks, this decision was overturned in favour of Pailprint.

Its five employees were found to have breached their company’s disciplinary code when they carried the items in the July 2014 strike action. The case was then taken to the CCMA, which found the employees ‘did not brandish or wield the weapons’, but carried them.

The CCMA further pointed out the picketing policy did not indicate what the consequences of its breach would be, nor did it indicate a link to the disciplinary code.

The employees were consequently reinstated subject to a final written warning valid for 12 months.

Pailprint then took the matter on appeal.

The Labour Court ruled that an ‘unduly technical approach’ had been adopted by the CCMA, and ordered that the dismissals of the five were substantively fair.

Full Times Select report

Pailprint (Pty) Ltd v Lyster NO and Others