LABOUR UNREST AND STRIKE PROTECTION

Issued by Perfect Word Consulting (Pty) Ltd

During June, parts of Johannesburg were plunged into darkness – not from load shedding, but due to striking Eskom workers damaging company property during a one-day wage strike.

The South African Communications Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, has slammed striking workers, confirming that “damage to Eskom property during strike is economic sabotage,” reports EWN. “We do believe that we’ve the labour relations and we’ve the right of workers protected in terms of their right to strike but nobody is entitled to destroy property. It’s an act of sabotage,” said the Minister.

This is but one of the examples of strike action that turns violent. As we continue to stir the mixing pot of economic, political and social pressure, these outbursts will become increasingly damaging, dangerous and costly.

According to Jacki Condon, Managing Director of Apache Security Services, Eskom and other organisations facing strike action must prepare better, and ensure that both their people and property are protected. “During labour unrest, real, strategic protection must be established to prevent vandalism, physical assault, property invasion and intimidation.”

In an increasingly hostile environment, it is essential that strike control teams comprise of qualified experts, including operatives with expertise in hostile environment recording. “It is essential that hostile situations are recorded. In the heat of the moment, witnesses lose perspective and the specific details are often forgotten amidst the adrenaline and panic,” adds Condon. “Video recordings will capture those forgotten details, providing evidence against those that break the law. This ensures that the criminals can be held accountable.”

Close protection operatives (CPOs) assigned to strike action management must have the highest level of experience in conflict. These CPOs must have the ability to focus on protecting staff, service providers, property and the business’ reputation, even when surrounded by chaos.

Condon concludes with the nine key elements to effective strike protection. “Counter strike protection services must include crowd control teams. Specialist employee protection is required, especially to protect those who choose not to participate in the strike. When the organisation is at loggerheads with striking staff, executives often become the target of the strikers’ rage. For this reason, executive protection is essential. The strike must be monitored by video and drone footage, and perimeter protection must be secured timeously. The strategy must include hostile environment risk management and respondents must be qualified to administer immediate emergency care if it becomes necessary (first aid). CPOs must be prepared to testify and/or present evidence in hearings after the fact. Lastly, undercover infiltration is crucial to getting the inside scoop, and preventing disasters before they occur.”

For more information, please contact Jacki Condon: jcondon@apachesecurity.co.za.

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