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Numsa left empty handed at Transnet

Aug 12 2016 16:50

Cape Town - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) failed to get organisational rights at Transnet.

Numsa and NTM applied for organisational rights, in term of the provisions of section 21 of the Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995, as amended in 2014.

The matter was set down for arbitration.

The United National Transport Union (Untu), the largest trade union in Transnet representing more than 25 000 employees at Transnet, and Satawu were mentioned to the proceedings on the basis that both unions had a material interest in the matter. Numsa was cited as the second applicant.

The application by Numsa and the National Transport Movement (NTM) was dismissed because neither of them was found to be a representative trade union.

“The numbers they achieved during the verification excise namely 1 495 for NTM, and 2 062 for Numsa are too insignificant for me to grant them any organisational rights,” according to Marleze Blignaut, senior commissioner of the Commission for Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

During the arbitration, Transnet argued that the commissioner should apply her mind in term of section 21 (8) of the Labour Relation Act (LRA).

According to this section the commissioner must consider that she does not create the proliferation of trade union representation within a workplace. The commissioner must also consider not to place a financial administrative burden on the employer.

Transnet explained that the company moved away from a process of trying to manage the administration burden of several smaller unions by allowing for a gradual increase in membership numbers before these unions could qualify, in principle for rights, resulting in the establishment of some sort of threshold of 30%.

Blignaut said Numsa made a last desperate attempt to gain rights by reference to the Constitution and the rights of workers in the Constitution.

“The Courts have already ruled that the Constitution cannot and should not be used in an attempt to by-pass the required legislation," she said.

"The fact of the matter is that the numbers both unions had achieved was just too low to even consider granting them any of the rights they demand.”

Untu deputy general secretary Eddie de Klerk of agreed with the CCMA ruling.

He said the LRA stipulates that an employer and a registered trade union whose members are a majority of the employees employed may conclude a collective agreement establishing a threshold of representativeness required in respect of one or more of the organisational rights.

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