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Top 5 Tips to Assist With Unprotected Industrial Action

Date: 11 July 2018

Labour, Employment and Workplace Safety partner, Steven Amendola, shares his top tips for managing unprotected industrial action, when it strikes.



In circumstances where strike action is unprotected industrial action, the following five tips may assist in managing it:

  1. Can you cope or work around the industrial action. If you can, then ignore it. It is possible that will ultimately cause an escalation of industrial action, but it may also cause it to fizzle out.
  2. If you can't ignore it, you have to weigh up the cost of industrial action occurring or continuing pragmatically. If the business doesn't believe it can stop the industrial action through legal action or otherwise, it may have to negotiate in order to bring it to an end. And then take whatever steps it can in order to deal with any such occurrence in the future.
  3. It is possible to obtain injunctions to stop industrial action occurring. If a business wants to go down that path then it is vital to obtain evidence of the conduct, generally involving a picket line. That will be a time consuming and detailed exercise That will involve testing the picket line, identifying who is organising the picket and the conduct on the picket line. Detailed notes should be taken, which might involve videos, photos, audio and detailed notes of conversations. You also need to provide evidence of the consequences of the operation of the picket on your business, ie the losses being or likely to be suffered as well as other effects down the supply chain.
  4. You should be aware that it is difficult to get an injunction which covers all the participants in a picket line. Also unions organising a picket line will either ignore the injunction or the picket line will then convert into a "community protest".
  5. An alternative to seeking legal relief is to gather evidence – video, photographic or audio of behaviour on a picket line and do what unions often tend to do now, which is to inflict reputational loss on a business. If there is bad behaviour on a picket line putting that behaviour front and centre in the public arena could have an impact in bringing the picket to an end in having less intimidating behaviour occurring.
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