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Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act No. 66 of 1995)

Code of Good Practice

Picketing

1. Introduction

 

 

1) This code of good practice is intended to provide practical guidance on picketing in support of any protected strike or in opposition to any lock-out It is intended to be a guide to those who may be contemplating, organising or taking part in a picket, and for those who as employers or employees or members of the general public may be affected by it.

 

2) Section 17 of the Constitution recognises the right to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions. This constitutional right can only be exercised peacefully and unarmed. Section 69 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act No. 66 of 1995) ("the Act"), seeks to give effect to this right in respect of a picket in support of a protected strike or a lock-out.

 

3) This code does not impose any legal obligations and the failure to observe it does not by itself render anyone liable in any proceedings. But section 69(5)(b) of the Act provides that the Commission must take account of this code of good practice when it establishes picketing rules.

 

4) Any person interpreting or applying the Act in respect of any picket must take this code of good practice into account. This is the effect of section 203 of the Act. This applies to the Commission, Labour Court, the Labour Appeal Court and the South African Police Services.

 

5) This code does not apply to all pickets and demonstrations in which employees and trade unions may engage. It applies only to pickets held in terms of section 69 of the Act. That section has four elements:
a) The picket must be authorised by a registered trade union .
b) Only members and supporters of the trade union may participate in the picket.
c) The purpose of the picket must be to peacefully demonstrate in support of any protected strike or in opposition to any lock-out.
d) The picket may only be held in a public place outside the premises of the employer or, with the permission of the employer, inside its premises. The permission of the employer is subject to overrule by the CCMA, if such permission is unreasonably denied.

 

6) If the picket complies with these four elements then the ordinary laws regulating the right of assembly do not apply. These laws include the common law, municipal by-laws and the Regulation of Gatherings Act, 1993 (Act No. 205 of 1993).

 

7) A picket with purposes other than to demonstrate in support of a protected strike or a lock-out is not protected by the Act The lawfulness of that picket or demonstration will depend on compliance with the ordinary laws.