Gabs has exercised the right and has applied to be exempted from certain aspects of the 2021 MCA. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA
Gabs has exercised the right and has applied to be exempted from certain aspects of the 2021 MCA. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Golden Arrow challenges labour minister over agreement extension

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Aug 3, 2021

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Cape Town - Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs) has approached the Labour Court to challenge the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, for extending the main collective agreement (MCA) to non-parties.

In its court papers, Gabs challenges the constitutionality of section 32 of the Labour Relations Act, which states that a collective agreement may not be extended unless the bargaining council has an effective process in place to deal with the exemption applications of non-parties.

Gabs spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said although Gabs considered that the 2021 MCA was not validly extended to non-parties by Nxesi, Gabs also applied for an exemption from certain aspects of the 2021 MCA, and that has been done insofar as it might ultimately be held that the 2021 MCA was valid and binding on Gabs.

She said the 2021 MCA makes provision for employers such as Gabs to apply for exemption from the 2021 MCA. Gabs has exercised the right and has applied to be exempted from certain aspects of the 2021 MCA.

"The 2021 MCA also provides that, pending the outcome of an exemption application, the applicant employer is not obliged to comply with the part of the agreement in respect of which it seeks an exemption," she said.

She said, however, even though Gabs would be entitled to pay no wage increases at all pending the outcome of its exemption application, it has implemented wage increases at the level that it was seeking approval to pay under its exemption application.

Musa Zondi, acting spokesperson for the Department of Employment and Labour, said they have not received the papers yet, which makes it difficult to comment.

SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (Sarpbac) general secretary Gary Wilson said they had also served as the second respondent in the matter, and would study the contents of the paper with their legal team.

The SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) national co-ordinator for passenger buses, Solomon Mahlangu, said the union was not surprised about Golden Arrow’s effort to attack the collective agreements of the council and endeavours to claw back gains achieved by workers over a long time.

Mahlangu said Gabs started to walk out of the bargaining council solely because unions did not want to climb aboard its ill-fated bandwagon to impoverish workers in the interest of profit craziness.

"We know Gabs will not resist its capitalist penchant and we are ready to fight by any means necessary," said Mahlangu.

"We will also mobilize and coordinate other unions in the council to act jointly to set up a strong litigation team to join the court as amicus curiae," he said.

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Cape Argus

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