A very interesting judgement
has been delivered by Kwazulu-Natal
High Court in South Africa.
The La Lucia mall [owned by
Growthpoint] had Dischem as their tenants, in other words Dischem had a shop in
La Lucia mall. The employees of Dischem started picketing in the basement parking
entrance of the mall. That caused nuisance. ‘Shouting, singing, chanting, ululating,
blowing whistles and horns and banging various instruments and objects was
amplified by the covered parking garage. The noise disturbed and intimidated
members of the public and disrupted normal business operations in the immediate
vicinity of the basement parking entrance.’
A specialist recorded that the
noise at the pay station in the parking garage exceeded the ambient level by
almost 30 decibels. This exceeded the legal limit of 85 decibels set by the
regulation governing noise-induced hearing loss.
The High Court observed that
[quote] ‘tolerance levels are exceeded
when Growthpoint [Owners of the Mall] and its tenants can not
conduct their business. The noise emanating from the picketers was acceptably high; it disturbed tenants and
the public. The evidence of the
expert and tenants of Growthpoint show that a persistent, loud noise was intolerable. Growthpoint, its tenants and
customers were inconvenienced and
prejudiced. Businesses not party
to the labour dispute suffered a loss of revenue as the public took its custom elsewhere. The noise of the
picketers also created an unhealthy
environment and impeded Growthpoint and its tenants from using their properties....
...In the opinion of the Court, SACCAWU and its members can exercise
their rights reasonably without
interfering with Growthpoint, its tenants and the public. Interference with their rights to the extent that
tenants cannot conduct business
and in fact lose business is an unacceptable and unjustifiable limitation on their right to their property, to trade
and to a healthy environment.
The limitation on SACCAWU and its members is only to lower their noise
level. They are not precluded from demonstrating, picketing, carrying placards, singing and chanting
With hundreds of malls coming
up in the city, and mall employees gradually unionising, this judgement will
have to be borne in mind by all concerned.
Labels: Causing nuisance, Mall employees protest, Picketing, Union demonstration