Johannesburg - Argument that Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi's fight against his suspension belongs in the Labour Court was disputed in the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday.
“The Labour Court only gives power to make orders where it does have jurisdiction, such as unprotected strikes, “ said Hans van der Riet, for Numsa.
“There is absolutely no merit to deprive My Lordship of jurisdiction. There is no merit in the legal argument.”
He was replying to submissions made by the Congress of SA Trade Unions' legal team that the matter of Vavi's suspension should have gone to the CCMA or Labour Court because it was a labour dispute.
Paul Kennedy, SC, for Vavi, argued that the general secretary was an elected official of Cosatu.
He was elected under the trade union federation's constitution and not an employment contract.
“It's not simply a dispute between Mr Vavi and his employer in terms of the Labour Relations Act,” he said.
“He is invoking his rights through the Cosatu constitution.”
Kennedy argued the matter was not a labour dispute.
In August last year, Cosatu said Vavi had been put on special leave pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing relating to his affair with the junior employee.
In July, the employee had accused him of rape. He said they had an affair. The woman subsequently withdrew a sexual harassment complaint against him.
Following Vavi's suspension, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), an ally of his, lodged an application in the High Court in Johannesburg challenging Vavi's suspension.
Vavi then lodged papers to be added as an applicant in Numsa's challenge.
In these, he asks the court to grant him an interim order interdicting and restraining Cosatu from enforcing any decision taken at its CEC meeting in August.
He wants final relief to review and set aside the decision to suspend him and institute disciplinary proceedings.
Earlier, Karel Tipp for Cosatu, argued that Vavi and Numsa were not looking for the same relief in the case. He said Vavi wanted his disciplinary to continue, but Numsa did not.
Van der Riet argued that Numsa and Vavi were attacking the same CEC decision taken on August 14.
“It wasn't a valid decision and it's doubtful if it was a decision. Mr Vavi attacks the same decision,” he said.
“There is no tension between the outcome of my case and Mr Kennedy's case.”
He said Numsa was not attacking any decision taken after August 14, referring to Vavi's upcoming disciplinary hearing.
“We not taking it further than August 14.”