A court decision has shown surprising flexibility in response to the deadlocked Sibanye-Stillwater strike. The involvement of legal bodies as referees began when the unions gave notice of the strike. At that point, the two sides should have negotiated picketing rules. But when that failed, a dispute was referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration (CCMA), where the commissioner issued rules that were binding on both sides. The next involvement of the courts came the day after the strike began, when management successfully asked the labour court to interdict what it alleged was unlawful behaviour by strikers. Then, on December 4, management asked for an urgent variation on the picketing rules. And it is this judgment that shows how nimble the courts can sometimes be. Judge Sean Snyman, saying the matter was obviously urgent, produced a full judgment overnight. In it, he outlined why he believes the law allows the courts to intervene in an urgent application, e...

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