Kelly’s mobilization theory does not provide for the role of any cost/risk analysis as
part of the process of deciding to embark upon collective action. On the other hand
the theories advanced by the like of McAdam, Wiltfang and Simmons considering
the incorporation of a cost/benefit analyses as part of the decision to embark upon
collective action, do not have regard to the development of a sense of injustice. This
study harmonizes the two approaches in seeking to answer the question why
employees engage in unprotected strikes considering the significant risk involved. In
doing so the study identifies the kind of triggers that would induce such a sense of
injustice to trigger participation in unprotected strikes, whilst also investigating
whether participants in unprotected strikes actually moderate their conduct to
decrease the risks of such participation.
This study considered all 98 reported judgements of the Labour Court and the
Labour Appeal Court that were reported by LexisNexis. The methodology used in
this study was content analysis of a quantitative nature. Descriptive statistics were
used to identify patterns, relationships and trends.
The analysis of the reported judgements shows that procedural disputes involving
single issues at single employers, arising from time-sensitive unilateral changes to
workplace practices, are likely to trigger unprotected strikes. The study further
demonstrated that employees participating in unprotected strikes and their trade
unions actually moderate their conduct to decrease the risk of dismissal. A close
relationship between the profound sense of injustice that triggers unprotected strikes
and the decisions to moderate the risks were established.