Following from the October/November 2018 cover story of BusinessBrief – Politics and Unions: is workplace disruption for political gain criminal? and the footnote contained in the article, the Labour Court gave a detailed judgement on the issue.
Industrial Law Journal, February 2019, Snyman, AJ in Calgan Lounge (Pty) Ltd v National Union of Furniture and Allied Workers SA and others (2019) 40ILJ342 (LC), stated:
“the first question that must be asked is what was the EFF doing getting involved in workplace issues in the first place, especially considering that applicants workplace is organised with the first respondent as the majority representative trade union?
The simple answer has to be that the EFF has no business in doing so. It is not a registered Trade union. The deliberate and specific design of the LRA is to designate the task of dealing with workplace disputes and grievances to employers’ organisations, trade unions and workplace forums.
There is no place in this structure for the involvement of political parties. In fact, it is my view that the practicing of any form of politics, be it under the guise of protecting employee rights or other socio economic aspirations, in the workplace is untenable proposition. The workplace should be free of these types of influences.”
The Court concluded that the EFF undermined orderly collective bargaining and dispute resolution processes which are cornerstones of the LRA, and that the EFF cannot just use the constitution as its guiding principles when the law is clear that a piece of legislation that exists around the rights must be adhered to.
If the EFF were a trade union certain consequences could have followed based on the series of events that happened here (such as reporting to the Registrar of labour relations and potential cancellation of the Trade Union, potential cancellation or withdrawal of the recognition agreement with the employer and consequent loss of rights for its members in the workplace and hence potential membership loss). Instead several employees lost their jobs, the employer incurred significant business losses and legal expenses.
Surprisingly (or maybe not so) EFF continue with this conduct with impunity. (Since the article it has become clear that this is not an isolated incident as I was contacted by numerous people and practitioners with similar issues and challenges).
It does seem there is a swing back from the lofty ideals of the LRA if this conduct continues without consequence!
A SEMINAL interview with Nerine Kahn, CEO, Employment Relations Exchange, and Dr Ivor Blumenthal, CEO, ArkKonsult, on how to deal with recent insurgencies of the EFF into workplaces where they systematically force agreements between employers and trade unions, steal union membership and close businesses.
Nerine Kahn is possibly the best place person in South Africa to discuss what can and should be done to counter this scourge……