What is a good action plan for responding to a riot or demonstration at a work site?
How a business responds, or prepares for the possibility of a demonstration or riot depends upon the nature of the grievance or reason for the strife. In the event of a manufacturing or service business with a unionized work force experiencing labor difficulties that lead to a strike or worse, the company will generally adopt a number of measures designed to minimize incidences of sabotage by disgruntled workers and to ensure that operations can continue at some reduced level, possibly utilizing nonunion labor.
Businesses with unionized labor forces generally are aware of the risks of strife when existing management-union contracts are set to expire. There is always the possibility of a strike under such circumstances as labor maneuvers for advantage and management seeks to adopt the toughest possible stance. In such cases, it is not unusual for the business to hire private security guards to prevent violence and sabotage of factory equipment (having been a security guard in a factory experiencing labor difficulties, this educator can attest that it can be a difficult and dangerous task for all parties). In addition, police are notified of the potentiality for violence, especially if nonunion labor is recruited to replace striking or laid-off workers.
In the event of a demonstration against a company's activities on the part of a special interest group -- for example, environmental activists demonstrating against the manufacturing processes of a particular industry -- once again it is likely that private security guards would be hired to protect the premises while the police department is requested by ownership to increase its patrols around the company's headquarters. In addition, corporate lawyers would be mobilized to protect the company's legal rights and to protect against accusations of improper or illegal conduct that might be made by the demonstrators.
Rioting is an entirely different matter when it comes to providing security for a company. Whether the rioting is caused by labor strife, or by outside groups protesting the company's activities, or whether the riot is just coincidentally occurring near the company in question, ownership/management will mobilize every available resource to prevent physical destruction of company property. Rioting, however, usually overwhelms not just the security available to the company, but local law enforcement agencies as well. In many instances, destruction of property and loss of business is inevitable, which raises the issue of insurance. A company the business of which is prone to attract unwanted attention will often take out an insurance policy to reimburse for lost business activity and to replace destroyed infrastructure.