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THE DUTY OF CARE; PROTECTING STAFF & ASSETS DURING STRIKE ACTIONIssued by Perfect Word Consulting
In South Africa, “strike action” has become a metaphor for “violent outbursts against all authority”. The reality is that striking employees simply do not abide by the rules. With a single-minded focus to disrupt business and productivity, these employees can do irreparable damage if they are not contained. Protecting employees, assets and property require specialist intervention from expert teams, lawfully providing protection and creating order during the chaos of strike action.
According to Kyle Condon, Managing Director at D & K Management Consultants, companies must have an efficient strike preparedness security plan in place. “Unions quite frankly are defined by how violent and intimidating their members are – in this country, that is often how they measure their success. Without an adequate, up to date strike contingency plan, companies become an easy target for intimidation and vandalism.” He believes that strike protection goes further than a standard security function, confirming that it requires the very best in skill and mental competence.
Last year's #FeesMustFall action, the recent taxi strikes, violence against Uber drivers, and a general lack of regard for property (public or private) perfectly illustrate the need for protection. The Intelligence Bureau of South Africa reported on the protest action occurring on the 26th of June, stating that the “Benoni protest disrupts Actionville and Benoni CBD, protestors turn violent and damage everything in their path.”
With the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) strike expected to begin in July this year, businesses will be left vulnerable if protection strategies have not been implemented. “A lack of planning and preparedness, coupled with the misinformed belief that the police will stop any criminal action, has exposed unprepared businesses to massive losses,” confirms Condon. “Active violence and active intimidation are definitely scenarios that must be prepared for; it's too late when a mob has already formed in front of your business.”
There are three elements to strike protection, each carrying significant weight in ensuring that the business, it's staff and its assets are protected. A tailor-made pre-strike planning guide should be developed, considering the specific business' risks, evaluating the company's readiness for strike action, and providing solutions to secure the premises and the people that work on it.
The second element is the deployment of skilled strike protection teams, in the event of a strike or protest. These teams guard South African businesses during labour unrest, providing real protection against vandalism, physical assault, property invasion and intimidation. “The teams should be equipped with crowd control skills, displaying expertise in lawfully dealing with hostile and violent protestors,” adds Condon.
The third and final element is a post-strike report, which provides documented evidence obtained during the strike. “Specialist hostile video recording operatives, for example, provide hard video evidence against those that break the law,” says Condon. “This ensures that those striking will be held accountable, should they engage in any act deemed as illegal or criminal.” With access to direct intelligence from inside the striking group, via deployed infiltration agents, this information assists businesses to run disciplinary hearings, or drive criminal proceedings, while providing valuable insights to apply to future strategies.
According to Condon, a sound strike plan should call for the creation of a Strike Task Committee. The physical weaknesses in the perimeter should be identified and solutions provided, and contact must be made with local SAPS and emergency services. “Safe zones should be identified, picketing zones demarcated to the business' advantage (taking the legal framework into consideration), and continuity plans put in place. Strike protection units must be on call, and clearly defined engagement rules and methods should be laid out.”
Condon adds that VIP protection should be considered for priority staff that may become the target of intimidation, and vehicle or truck escorts should be employed. “The plan should also define the scope of the existing security contractors during the strike, determine when and how video evidence will be captured, and state the arrival times of contract staff, to ensure their safety. To ensure the safety of non-striking staff, alternative operating hours could be considered, and staff should be made aware of the laws of self-defence, and the liability of personal firearms during the strikes.”
The three overarching goals of strike protection are to save lives, protect property and safeguard the business' reputation. “The question is, does your company have an efficient strike preparedness security plan?” concludes Condon.
For more information, or to book a pre-strike preparedness survey, contact D&K Management Consultants: email@example.com. .
Established in 1993 by Declan and Condon Condon, D&K Management Consultants is firmly entrenched as the preferred investigations and risk consultancy provider in Africa and abroad. Declan's legacy is a wealth of investigative skills and experience, which - combined with Condon's vast understanding of risk analysis and security management - are applied to every case file handled by the company.
With a significant handpicked force of investigators and security specialists, D&K Management Consultants provides criminal and civil investigations on behalf of companies or individuals from every sector. The same level of discretion and dedication is afforded to each and every client, whether they are blue chip or local community. Assisting clients to operate in a hostile business environment is a D&K speciality. Criminal and civil investigations are simply the key required to unlock the door leading to successful loss control portfolios.
For more information, visit www.investigations.co.za.