You have the right to remain silent, but it could cost you your job
Judges say firing of 115 workers was fair because they wouldn't identify perpetrators of 'barbaric' strike action
Only one of 116 staff who went on strike at a rubber factory in Benoni has kept her job.
The rest were fired after the strike degenerated into “spectacular” violence described by Labour Appeal Court judges as a “catalogue of barbarism”.
Even though the judges said there was no proof that dozens of them had been present during the violence, their dismissal was ruled to be fair on the basis of “derivative misconduct” because they failed to identify the perpetrators.
The Johannesburg judges dismissed an appeal by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA against a Labour Court finding that the strikers’ dismissal by three Dunlop Industrial Products companies was fair.The strike began in August 2012, and Judge RT Sutherland said in his judgment last month: “At once, violence became its hallmark.”
The homes of a manager and a foreman were torched, vehicles were vandalised, non-striking staff were beaten with sticks, a petrol bomb was thrown, visitors and staff were stoned, death threats were issued, and entrances were blocked with trees and rubble.
The strikers ignored a Labour Court interdict against the violence, and five weeks after the strike began they were all dismissed by SMS.Only one employee arrived at what Dunlop advertised as a “collective appeal” and she was reinstated after convincing the company she had not taken part in the violence and had no knowledge of the perpetrators.
Sutherland said the dismissed workers “chose to be silent” at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and the Labour Court on whether they had witnessed the violence.
“How likely would it be that strikers would absent themselves from the demonstrations of resolve and solidarity which are the very fibre of strike culture?” he said, adding that Numsa’s case that it knew nothing about the violence was “proven to be a palpable lie”.