Trade unions can be held liable for strike damage – court

2011-09-28 07:25

The Supreme Court of Appeal has found that trade unions can be held liable for damage caused by workers during strikes.

In the judgment yesterday, which upheld an earlier ruling by the Western Cape High Court, Justice Mahomed Navsa wrote that the country “could not be subjected to the tyranny of the mob”.

“In the past, the majority of the population was subjected to the tyranny of the state,” the Cape Times newspaper quoted Navsa as saying.

“We cannot now be subjected to the tyranny of the mob.”

The High Court ruling favoured eight people, including traders whose stalls were looted and smashed and motorists whose vehicles were wrecked, during a SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union protest in the Cape Town city centre in May 2006.

The group is claiming R70 000 in damages.

Advocate Anton Katz, who took on the case pro bono with advocate Darryl Cooke and attorney Amanda Torr, welcomed the ruling, saying it would have “major implications” for other incidents where people’s property had been damaged as a result of organised protests.

The matter was initially heard by Western Cape judge president John Hlophe, who ruled in favour of the eight applicants. 

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