Vavi bid a labour matter - lawyer

Johannesburg - The bid by suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to have his suspension set aside is a matter for the CCMA and the Labour Court, the High Court in Johannesburg heard on Friday.

“When it comes to a matter of unfair dismissal, that goes to Labour Court,” said Karel Tipp, SC, for the Congress of SA Trade Unions.

Cosatu's suspended secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi. File photo: Etienne Creux. Credit: Independent Newspapers

“The Labour Court is the overall court which has an advisory council.”

Tipp referred to the Labour Relations Act and other court matters which dealt with unfair labour practices.

He said the correct route for Vavi to take would have been for him to approach the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) first and if the matter was not resolved, the Labour Court.

“What one has is a real question around what is Mr Vavi's purpose in this court... It occurred to me that My Lord was being addressed as a CCMA commissioner,” Tipp told Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo.

On Thursday, PJ De Bruyn, SC, for Vavi, argued that Vavi's case was a matter for the high court as it was a breach of a common law contract.

He accused Cosatu of breaching the contract which was the trade union federation's constitution when it took the decision to suspend Vavi.

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 a 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 central executive committee (CEC) meeting in August.

He wants final relief to review and set aside the decision to suspend him and institute disciplinary proceedings.

Vavi and Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim were in court on Friday, as well as Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini and acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. - Sapa