The Labour Court in Johannesburg has rejected with costs an application by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) to have the lock-out by employer members of the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) declared illegal. The application was brought by NUMSA at the end of August. After applying his mind to the matter for more than a week, Judge Lagrange this morning found that NEASA’s lock-out of NUMSA’s members is legal.
‘This is a massive victory for labour relations in South Africa. We are grateful that the judge applied his mind to all the facts presented to him and that he found in favour of NEASA,’ says NEASA Chief Executive Gerhard Papenfus.
NEASA’s members will therefore continue with the lock-out despite attempts by NUMSA and COSATU in the North West to try and intimidate employers who are participating in the exercise. Union members in the North West have on several occasions marched against companies who are participating in the lock-out. They also handed over a memorandum to the individual companies, the Department of Labour and the Brits Industrialists, with the demand that all workers who are locked out must be allowed to go back to work unconditionally.
‘These scare tactics will not have an effect on our decision to support the lock-out against union members. NEASA maintains that the lock-out is not compulsory for its members and will be enforced only by those employers who wish to execute the lock-out,’ says Papenfus.
NEASA is adamant that it will continue its support to the lock-out until its demands are sufficiently considered.
‘The driving force behind this lock-out is that NUMSA and the other unions must meet with us to resolve NEASA’s outstanding demands in order to get the lock-out lifted. Until this has happened, the lock-out will continue,’ says Papenfus.
Papenfus added that this judgement significantly enforces NEASA’s view that our members cannot be bound by an agreement between SEIFSA and NUMSA.
‘Whereas SEIFSA’s employers must pay their agreed increased wages from 1 July 2014, this does not apply to NEASA’s members who are not presently obligated to pay any increases. NEASA will continue to resist all attempts to impose the unaffordable SEIFSA-deal on our members,’ Papenfus said.
B&A supports the process of collective bargaining but is concerned that bargaining councils tend to be dominated by large employers and trade unions at the expense of smaller employers and ultimately jobs.