To date, more than 14 years after the LRA came into force, no minimum service agreement has been ratified by the CSE. There may be two reasons for this. First, very few minimum service contracts have been negotiated or agreed. The unions do not seem to have been enthusiastic about supporting strikes that have the effect of dividing staff between those who have to continue working (because they work in basic services) and who therefore continue to earn a salary during a strike and those who are allowed to strike and who must then take the full force of the strike on their wage packages – the result of the “not” principle. of work without pay”. For their part, the employers do not seem to have considered it important to continue concluding minimum service agreements, as a much larger proportion of public sector employees are then excluded from the strike. (Ironically, after strikes began in the public service, employers showed little or ability to prevent strikes, including on the part of workers in the main function.) The consequence of this failure to designate appropriate bargaining units is that, for example, even within the Education Collective Agreements Board, teachers and cleaners are included in the same bargaining unit, as are physicians and gardeners in the Health Sector Collective Agreements Board. This is despite a clear lack of community of interest between the collaborators of these groups. The recent strike in the civil service focused on what needed to be greatly increased and the housing allowances paid to every public sector employee, from the surgeon to the worker in a central bargaining unit.
This does not take into account, for example, the very different housing needs of different groups of workers. This failure to distinguish interests from clearly defined classes of workers would not occur if appropriate bargaining units were regulated by law, as is the case in other jurisdictions. Although strike power is contrary to the idea of orderly collective bargaining and the freedom to strike even in non-essential services, it is common in South Africa. The picket line becomes a place of violent conflict, with strikers pushing non-striking workers to participate, and conviction often turns into intimidation. Often, the picket line becomes a war zone. Employers have responded to the violence with bans and court injunctions that restrict workers` right to picket near the employer`s site. As a result, violence is displaced in the homes of managers and surrogate workers, which is more difficult for employers to control. It is doubtful whether the abolition of the right to strike in essential services and the requirement to have transferred all disputes to interest rate arbitration proceedings will create a collective bargaining structure with appropriate bargaining units for major service workers through interest rate arbitration procedures.
However, it is extremely difficult to do so in isolation if there is no priority bargaining obligation that legislates in the broader public sector. The starting point is whether essential service workers have or should have the right to strike. The right to strike for the purposes of collective bargaining is one of the fundamental rights enshrined in Section 27 of the South African Constitution. . . .