NEASA win put on hold
On 17 December 2012, the case between National Employers Association of SA (NEASA) and the DOL, MEIBC and trade unions was heard in the Labour Court.
Neasa claimed that the wage agreement which Numsa and other trade unions signed on the 18 July 2011 and which was gazetted on 23rd September 2011 could not be extended to all employers because the unions did not represent the majority of employees as required by section 32 (3) (b) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA).
They claimed that the DOL's declaration that the MEIBC was representative was based on all employees covered by MEIBC including those working in House Agreement companies eg BHP Billiton etc.
However, the extension of the wage agreement applied only to those covered by the Main Agreement and this meant that the trade unions no longer represented the majority of employees and nor did the employers who were party to the MEIBC represent the majority of employers, so the agreement could not be extended in terms of section 32(3)(b) and (c) and should therefore be declared invalid.
The court agreed with NEASA on this but it suspended this order/decision for four months. During these four months, the department of Labour (Minister of Labour) must consider whether or not to make a decision to extend the collective agreement in terms of section 32 (5) of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995.
Parties can make representations to the DOL on why the agreement should or should not be extended during these four months.
How does this affect you?
The suspension of the order for four months means that no employer can use the award to change or vary what has been implemented since 2011.
Any action on the part of employers to change the wage structure introduced in 2011 will be illegal (eg if a worker employed by NEASA was granted an increase after the new wage rates were announced in September 2011, the employer may not take away that wage increase).
Union officials and shopstewards should be on the lookout for employers who would like to exploit the situation incorrectly.
If you want to find out if your employer belongs to NEASA, contact Numsa engineering sector coordinator, Vusi Mabho on firstname.lastname@example.org or 011 689 1700