Private Sector Employees, Public Sector Strike 6


The public sector strike has many ramifications.

 The big news is the intimidation of staff at schools and hospitals, including those in the private sector, the harassment and violence against school children trying to find other ways to study, and the death of patients neglected in or turned away from hospitals.


Then there are those in business who are suddenly faced with children out of school needing care. What does a company do when parents indicate that they have to stay at home to look after affected children?

 First and foremost, managers should take the words of Paul Falcone of Time Warner Cable to heart: “Always focus on shifting responsibility for improvement away from your company and to the employee (where it rightfully belongs).” In this case, the responsibility to be at work is the employee’s. No-one should be in any doubt about that.

 There is no difference between having to look after children thrust upon unsuspecting parents as a result of strike action, and children struck down with a sudden illness. If an employee is not at work the company policies regarding non-attendance apply whatever the circumstances. If a company takes responsibility for children locked out of school, what about family members thrown out of hospital?


Employees often try to induce a guilt trip on their managers; and managers do the Company a disservice when they succumb to such pressure. “If we don’t do something we’ll have no-one at work and then what?”


If, however, we accept that the Company is not responsible, we may then ask if there anything the Company can do to help.


The first step would be to ask for the affected employees’ suggestions. What have they investigated, thought might be helpful, discussed among themselves?


I know of one large corporate who, during the World Cup, made arrangements with a crèche-cum-day-care centre for special rates for the children of staff. It was dependent on numbers but it was a nice gesture. I haven’t heard of anyone doing anything during the strike. The ambiguity of a strike and the uncertainty from day to day and week to week makes planning difficult. It was possible during the World Cup for enough parents in a particular area to commit to a particular programme for a few weeks; most parents were affected in the same way at the same time. It seems to me that the strike throws up far too many variables.


Any ideas or comments?

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About Ian Webster

I have been running my own consultancy (Simply Communicate) for five years – training and consulting in all things people management and development. Prior to that I was 16 years in corporate HR in a unionised environment becoming Training Manager and Human Resources Manager. I have a Degree in Theology and a post-graduate diploma in Human Resources Management.

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6 thoughts on “Private Sector Employees, Public Sector Strike

  • Des Squire

    Personally I shudder to think that the dancing strikers are supposed to be a professional – the rioting )Not picketing) nurses are supposed to be professionals and so on. Yes, they have a case, Yes they have a right to strike but no they do not have a right to endanger life, cause damage and in this case kill or be the cause of the death of others. Personally I can no longer support their cause, I can no longer accept they have a valid case. Striking nurses, teachers etc should go back to work an apologise to the nation for the bad international publicity, the unacceptatbel behaviour, the damage to property and the loss of life.
    I would urge any member of the public who suffers material damage or loss of a loved one during the strike and attributible to the strike action to organise “class action” against the union concerned – sue them, bankrupt them and force their dissolution. How can we be proudly South African under circumstances such as we are currently experiencing – I am perspnally disgusted.

  • Ian Webster Post author

    A delightful twist here in Pmb.
    The strikers picketing outside Greys Hospital (and, as instructed by their unions, “closing it down”) were apparently struck by rubber bullets.
    Where did they go? They raced inside to the emergency unit of course!
    The tragedy is that they probably have absolutely no sense of the irony of it.

  • Moegsien Harris

    Labour and Government need to find an acceptable methon when disputes arise as the suffering children have far greater rights of protection from both of these parties. It is unacceptable that the government and labour did to consider a contingency plan in order to protect the rights of the learners and our children. It is an absolute disgrace and I oppose the position taken by both parties who showed a lack of understanding the very dynamics that you are referring to.