Minimise the cost and impact of protest activity

Issue 4 2022 Security Services & Risk Management, Industrial (Industry)

The power of protest played a pivotal role in South Africa’s hard-won democracy and is firmly entrenched in the Constitution as a right for people to make their voices heard. However, if handled incorrectly, protracted strikes and protest actions can have deleterious effects on a business’s finances, employees, assets and reputation.

In 2021, Bloomberg reported that the South African steel industry strike, which lasted for 17 days, cost the industry about R500 million, with a concurrent loss of about R100 million in wages. The Mail & Guardian, meanwhile, reported that the nationwide unrest which broke out in July last year put about 150 000 jobs at risk and cost the economy an estimated R50 billion. These examples alone highlight why it is in employers’ and employees’ best interests to manage negotiations and protest action peacefully, and in a way that causes minimal disruption to business continuity and job stability.


Stephan Botha.

“Businesses need to take an holistic approach to managing a strike; however, most organisations are either insufficiently prepared or take a siloed, reactionary approach, which can extend the duration of a protest and add cost for businesses,” says Stephan Botha, CEO of Thorburn Security Solutions. “Additionally, the longer a strike is drawn out, the more likely it is that emotions will escalate, increasing the possibility of risk to people’s lives, business assets and a company’s reputation.”

Choosing the right partner

Before businesses choose which security solutions services to partner with, it is important that they research their existing experience in managing all aspects of protests and strikes. Do they have the ability to help companies and protestors swiftly and safely reach resolutions? Can they do it while concurrently minimising cost and damage to assets and reputation?

The ideal partner should offer comprehensive training to prepare management teams for what to expect in the event of a strike, as well as access to specialised legal assistance which provides advice and the relevant legal documentation at various stages of a strike action. Some security solutions providers have close relationships with various state departments, trade unions, employer bodies, SAPS as well as national and international security bodies.

The advancement of technology has brought the inclusion of drones to specialised security solutions providers, allowing for a more proactive and rapid response level of patrol. Some are even fitted with 360-degree thermal cameras with a live feed to keep track of crowd movement, fire and other threats, even in poorer lighting conditions. This can then be communicated to security officers on the ground and they can mobilise accordingly.

And while the thought of non-lethal or even lethal-weaponed officers with armoured vehicles and helicopters protecting your business may seem dramatic on the surface, it’s worth remembering the potential destruction and looting that is possible when a demonstration gets out of hand, and how many business owners have lost everything to riots. In July 2021, Durban bore the brunt of a civil unrest, with 45 000 businesses out of commission and an estimated R16 billion in stolen stock, as well as damage to infrastructure and equipment.

Preparation and planning

While some riots may last hours, others last days or even weeks. It’s important to find a way to ensure that in addition to protecting your business, you are able to provide for your staff’s basic needs. While companies may have to take it upon themselves to secure their own supplies, some security solutions providers may already have plans in place for this. “Because we are part of the Tsebo Solutions Group, we can offer additional services such as catering for employees who choose to remain on-site during protest action, secure transport for these staff members, and the rapid deployment of cleaning teams to clean up after a strike,” concludes Botha.

Mitigating risk is all about preparation and planning. Bringing in an expert to help put together a plan in case of emergency, or partnering with a specialist security service, can position your business to withstand the unexpected when it arrives, and dramatically increase your chances of returning to business as quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

Understanding the power of digital identity
Access Control & Identity Management Security Services & Risk Management Financial (Industry)
The way we perceive business flourishing is undergoing a paradigm shift, as digital identity and consumer consent redefine the dynamics of transactions, says Shanaaz Trethewey.

Read more...
What you can expect from digital identity in 2024
Access Control & Identity Management Security Services & Risk Management
As biometric identity becomes a central tenet in secure access to finance, government, telecommunications, healthcare services and more, 2024 is expected to be a year where biometrics evolve and important regulatory conversations occur.

Read more...
More than just a criminal record check
iFacts Security Services & Risk Management
When it comes to human-related risks, organisations and their most senior leaders focus on a narrow set of workforce risks, the potential risks that human workers pose to the business.

Read more...
Tech developments lead hologram growth in 2024
News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
Micro-lenses, micro-mirrors and plasmonics are among the rapidly-emerging optical devices that have evolved on the back of holographic and diffractive technologies, and are seen as part of the natural evolution of optical science by R&D teams.

Read more...
Are you leaving money on the table?
Editor's Choice Security Services & Risk Management
How many customers have you helped since starting your business? Where does most of your new business come from? If the answer is not from your database’s existing customers, you might have a problem.

Read more...
210 million industrial endpoints secured by 2028
News & Events Information Security Industrial (Industry)
A new study by Juniper Research has found that there will be growth of 107% over the next five years in the number of industrial endpoints featuring cybersecurity protection.

Read more...
The business value of ChatGPT
Security Services & Risk Management Risk Management & Resilience
Transparency, policy and integrity. It is critical for organisations to have a line of sight into processes and procedures that clearly define employee use cases when it comes to ChatGPT, says Lizaan Lewis, Head of the Legal Department at Altron Systems Integration.

Read more...
Growing cyber threats to SA’s critical infrastructure
News & Events Information Security Industrial (Industry)
The increasing reliance on digital infrastructure makes critical sectors like utilities more susceptible to cyber threats. This concern has been highlighted by Kaspersky's recent discovery of a new SystemBC variant that has targeted a South African nation's critical infrastructure.

Read more...
BMS for smaller businesses
Security Services & Risk Management Products & Solutions Risk Management & Resilience
Small businesses can also benefit from tailored energy management solutions just like large corporations. Effective energy management is essential for more sustainable and efficient operations.

Read more...
Kidnapping for ransom
News & Events Security Services & Risk Management Risk Management & Resilience
There has been an 8,6% increase in reported kidnapping cases in South Africa compared to last year, with 3 854 cases reported between April and June this year, leaving ordinary South Africans increasingly vulnerable.

Read more...