10 April 2019
The announcement of 8 May 2019 as the date for South Africa’s national election raises a number of issues which need careful consideration by members. It is obviously the prerogative of each member company to decide the type of action, if any, it wishes to take regarding the election.
THE ROLE OF BUSINESS IN THE LEAD-UP TO THE ELECTIONS
Management will be aware that the final month leading up to the elections will be a time of great uncertainty in South Africa. However, the positive potential of this election as a turning point for stability and growth needs to be reinforced through management promoting these concepts.
VIOLENCE AND INTIMIDATION RELATED TO THE ELECTIONS
Management has a crucial role to play in ensuring stability at the workplace by avoiding polarisation and dealing effectively with any conflict, intimidation or violence which arises related to the elections.
To this end, any employee acts of intimidation, violence or threats of violence against fellow employees based upon the elections or party-political affiliation constitute criminal transgressions of the Electoral Act and the Intimidation Act whilst simultaneously constituting serious acts of employee misconduct under the employment relationship.
Management must accordingly deal quickly and effectively with any allegations or incidences of violence or intimidation. This includes implementing disciplinary actions in terms of existing disciplinary procedures and where necessary, the involvement of local peace structures and local IEC structures, where circumstances warrant such involvement.
DEMONSTRATIONS OF POLITICAL AFFILIATION AT THE WORKPLACE
It is anticipated that, during the period leading up to the elections, employees will increasingly attempt to demonstrate their political affiliation and support for political parties by various means, including the wearing of badges, caps, clothing with political slogans, the distribution and display of political literature and other similar actions.
This clearly, if uncontrolled, may have serious implications for worker relations and may lead to worker confrontation and violence at the workplace.
Accordingly, it is recommended, in the interests of peace and stability at the workplace, that political electioneering, canvassing and/or party-political meetings should, as far as possible, be avoided on company premises.
PUBLIC HOLIDAY ON 8 MAY 2019
Management will be aware that Wednesday, 8 May 2019 has been declared a Public Holiday.
This means that 8 May will be a paid holiday for all employees falling under the scope of the Metal Industries Main Agreement as the Agreement recognises all holidays made in terms of the Public Holidays Act.
Accordingly, these industry employees will not be required to work on 8 May 2019 and will receive payment for that day – this, however, is subject to individual letters of appointment contractually binding employees to work on public holidays.
The declaration of Wednesday, 8 May 2019 as a public holiday enables management to resist employee and trade union pressures for paid time off during working hours for voting purposes. For employees falling outside the scope of the Metal Industries Main Agreement, the position of 8 May 2019 will be governed by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, subject once again, to individual terms and conditions of employment contained in letters of appointment.
Management should feel free to direct any queries on matters related to the elections, to the Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC):
Independent Electoral Commission
- Contact Centre: 0800 11 8000
- National Office number: 012 622 5700
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org