Legal procedures to follow

Members are advised that there are policies that they must follow and be aware of with regard to their legal matters.

Once a member has been disciplined at work and has been dismissed, he or she must immediately go to his or her local office to report the dismissal. Please be aware that dismissal cases must be referred to the CCMA and the bargaining council within 30 days of receiving a dismissal letter. Should a member refer a case to the local office outside the 30-day period, we must apply for condonation.

This means we must explain to the commissioner why the matter has been referred late. This explanation must be convincing to the commissioner and credible; if not, the matter will not be taken further.

Once the matter has been referred, the commission will provide us with a date of conciliation. If 30 days pass after the matter has been referred, it must go to arbitration.

At the conciliation stage a commissioner tries to see if parties can settle the matter. If there is no settlement, a certificate is issued stating that the matter must be referred to arbitration. An official will then apply for arbitration. The matter will then be set down for arbitration, where both parties will present their case through witnesses. Once the arbitration is concluded, the commissioner must make a finding within 14 days.

If the member is not happy with the outcome and the union official agree the matter will be sent to head office to be reviewed at the Labour Court level. The matter must be referred within six weeks of it being sent to the union offices, as late referral will require an application for condonation.

If a member is unhappy with the way the case is being handled by an official at the local level, he/she must report this to the local office-bearers. If this does not bring satisfaction, the complaint must be referred to the regional office and from region to head office. These are the important steps that members must follow, as they are union policy.

As a department we have our own panel of attorneys that has been approved by the central committee. There are matters that we refer to these attorneys.

If you are not happy with the way that your matter is being handled by an official, please use the process explained above. Report to the local office-bearers, and if you are not happy to the regional office. Finally, go to head office.

Prudence Gqoba is the acting head of Numsa’s legal department

Please be aware that in no circumstances can you take your matter to an attorney of your own who is not on our panel, as the union will not pay the attorney’s legal fees. The member will be responsible for the fees incurred. Members must understand that the union has policies that must be followed. As officials, we are here to serve the members using our expertise, and we have a panel of attorneys to ensure that members get the best service that the union can provide.

The rat that ate the core of the workers’ finances
By Thabang Nchela
I am writing this article after carrying out a thorough study of the take-home pay of members of Numsa, the levels of indebtedness of members and the debt trap they find themselves in.

Court orders and garnishee orders
This happens as a result of a creditor lending money to someone. When the debtor fails to pay, the creditor passes on the debt to debt collectors. They follow a definite procedure, strictly cording to the rules and legislation.
First a letter of demand is sent demanding that the debtor to meet his or her obligation to pay. Normally, the debtor ignores this.

This will be followed by other letters and/or telephone calls. Once these legal obligations have been met, the debt collector will proceed to court for a default judgment. If the court is satisfied that the debt collector has met the legal requirements, it will grant an order. This is called a court order.

The order will instruct the debtor to pay the capital debt (the initial amount of money owed); interest from the date the debtor stopped making payments (the prescribed rate is 15.5%); and the legal costs of the court action.
What normally appears on the pay slip is the capital debt, and that’s where the problem starts.

The debtor is normally not informed of other costs reflected in the order of the court. Debtors might think that they have paid the debt when that is not the case, because they do not know what they actually owe.

Thabang Nchela is Numsa regional organiser, Eastern Cape