It seems that a new trend has now begun to emerge and which is impacting on the Employee Relations front in South Africa. The trend is that a band of Economic Freedom Fighters T-shirt wearing protesters arrive at the gate of an employer.
The size of the “band” of protesters may vary from 20 or 30 up to several hundred. They demand to meet with the Management of the employer and claim that there is an issue to be resolved be it purported workplace discrimination or unfair disciplinary action or any such labour related matter.
The logical response of the Management team is to say that the Economic Freedom Fighters has no locus standi to engage in any workplace discussions with the Management and that its preferred approach is to enter discussion with the employees themselves or their worker representatives and to attempt to shoo them away. At this point, the Economic Freedom Fighters protesters then begin to toi-toi (dancing) and continue to do so for a short while and then they leave the employer’s premises.
This is not where things end, however. The EFF return a few days later to the employer’s premises and then begin toi-toing and protesting outside the premises. Demands may or may not be made by the protesters to Management and they continue to toi-toi. If no attention is given to them by Management, they will shake and rattle gates, attempt to gain access on to the employer’s premises, or even strew garbage over the company’s premises. Later their action may turn violent and the protesters may resort to harassing staff members of the employer and damaging company property.
I experienced the same pattern of behaviour at one of my clients today after the initial first protest a week ago.
This strategy is set to intensify by the Economic Freedom Fighters up to the 2019 elections as it is being adopted as a cheap
source of electioneering.
Employers should be aware of this trend. They must manage the situation with sensitivity as should the situation escalate into full blown violence the consequences could be disastrous.
We would be ready to assist should our help and guidance be called upon to bring resolution and relief.
Photo Credit: http://news.trust.org//item/20150930161927-qakan/