Ricochet News

The Dire Consequences of Carrying a Weapon During a Strike

Jan 21, 2020
The Dire Consequences of Carrying a Weapon During a Strike

Port Elizabeth - The concept of strikes is not new to South African employers and employees alike. However, within the realm of striking and strike protection there are certain rules and regulations that may be unknown. This is particularly true when it comes to the repercussions of carrying a weapon during a strike.

“It seems that many people are unaware of the consequences they risk when carrying a weapon during a strike or protest,” explains Jacki Condon, Managing Director of Apache Security Services. According to Condon, many strikers or protesters choose to carry a weapon as they believe that it will make them seem more powerful and intimidating. However, there are severe consequences to this action.

The obvious point is that if an employee is carrying a weapon during a strike, it is considered grounds for dismissal. In addition to this there is the real threat posed to self and others of potential harm caused, intentionally or unintentionally, by the weapon.

“A weapon also instantly changes the perceived nature of the strike or protest to a violent one as opposed to a peaceful one. This has severe effects when it comes to grounds for arrest and degree of prosecution,” adds Condon.

In an article he wrote entitled Would Axing Weapon-wielding Protesters be Justifiable? Jacques Van Wyk, Director and Labour Law specialist at Werksmans Attorneys confirms that; “The act of carrying weapons exposes others to the risk of injury and also serves to threaten and intimidate. This kind of conduct is not protected by the right to strike.”

Even if a weapon is only carried and never used during a strike, the mere presence of the weapon may be evidence to support that it denotes intent of violent acts. This places the employer in a position to potentially dismiss the striking employee and puts the employee at risk of not only losing their job but also of being arrested and prosecuted.

“A weapon also has many forms,” continues Condon.

“A weapon is any instrument that is carried with the intent to cause potential harm. There are reported cases of employees being dismissed not for carrying knives and guns, but for carrying large sticks and steel piping, or for throwing large stones.”

Condon further explains what companies could do to strengthen their own defences against such acts. This includes hiring security providers who understand and offer strike protection.

On a foundational level, she stresses the importance for companies to outline the prohibition of the carrying and use of any instrument intended to cause harm clearly (including conventional weapons as well as sticks, piping, glass, stones or any other such objects).

This should be stated within the company’s disciplinary code.

Companies should also be sure that the disciplinary code is not only reviewed and signed by all employees but that it is also posted on the company notice board and/or posted on the company kitchen fridge.

“Weapons of any kind carried and used within a strike or protest means that, that protest is no longer peaceful and thus those participating in the act are no longer protected from dismissal or arrest,” concludes Condon.