Afrox Ltd v SACWU and Others 2 (1997) 18 ILJ 406 (LC)


Once the dispute giving rise to the strike is resolved, the strike must end.  The right to a protected strike falls away at that point.


Employees engaged in a protected strike in support of a demand relating to attempts by the employer to introduce staggered shifts. At some point the employer conceded to the union’s demands relating to staggered shifts and gave up its attempt to introduce them. The employer then engaged the union about the consequence of the failed attempt to introduce staggered shifts, namely outsourcing of certain functions and retrenchments. When the strike continued, the employer sought an interdict in the Labour Court. In granting the interdict, the Court said the continued strike was illegal, as it was not permissible to strike over disputes relating to dismissals- these were required to be referred to arbitration in terms of legislation. The original dispute which led to a protected strike, namely the question of staggered shifts, had fallen away. The right to continue with the protected strike fell away at that point.

Extract from the judgement

(Page 410)
A strike can terminate in various ways. One way for a strike to terminate is where the strikers abandon the strike. This normally takes the place of an unconditional return to work. Another possible way, for there are probably other ways (cf 'Some Aspects of the Termination of a Dismissal Lock-out' 1994 Contemporary Labour Law 79--83) is by the disappearance of the substratum. If the casus belli is removed, for example,  by the employer's conceding to the demands of the strikers or by removing the grievance or by resolving the dispute then the foundations of the strike fall away. The strike is no longer functional; it has no purpose and it terminates. When the strike terminates so does its protection. It is not in the interests of labour peace for a strike action to be continued in such circumstances even in the case of a protected strike. See s 1 of the LRA.