Home Press Releases Archived 2013 SACTWU members to receive three weeks’ back pay
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Wednesday, 22 May 2013 16:44


Press Statement: Immediate


SACTWU MEMBERS TO RECEIVE THREE WEEKS’ BACK PAY AFTER BEING PLACED UNLAWFULLY ON SHORT TIME, ORDERS SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS


The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) is pleased to announce that 58 clothing workers at Junit Manufacturing in KZN would be receiving backpay, with interest, for three weeks that they were unlawfully placed on short time.  This follows a long legal battle with the company. The Supreme Court of Appeals has just pronounced on the matter. It is a precedent setting judgment in favour of all South African workers. The further details are as follows:

When the workers were placed on short time a few years ago, SACTWU referred a dispute for a claim for unpaid wages for the period of the short time because, in our contention, the workers were placed on short time illegally.

The matter then had to be arbitrated at clothing bargaining council level. Junit Manufacturing was of the view that the Clothing Industry Bargaining Council did not have jurisdiction to hear this dispute. The arbitrator ruled that the matter could be heard by the bargaining council, as the dispute was related to wages which could be applicable to the main agreement and it was further found that the employees had to be paid wages from 12 January 2006-10 February 2006 as (in terms of the arbitrators ruling), they had indeed been placed on unfair and illegal short time.

The arbitration award was then taken on review by the employer. The review was successful.  The impact of the Judge’s decision was, in  our view, declaring that the Bargaining Council would not have jurisdiction to arbitrate short time disputes, which would have had far reaching consequences for workers in the clothing industry. It meant a serious watering down of the powers of bargaining councils in general.

As such the matter had to be taken on appeal. SACTWU appealed the matter and have now won. The relief is that these 58 workers will now receive their 3 weeks’ back pay with interest, but the important precedent setting consequence of this matter is that short time disputes can now be referred to the Bargaining Council.

This  Supreme Court of Appeals judgment therefore strengthens the powers and jurisdiction of all bargaining councils to deal with short time disputes. It is a big blow for employers and organisations such as the Free Market Foundation who are intent on weakening bargaining councils.

Issued by
Andre Kriel
General Secretary
SACTWU

For comment please contact SACTWU’S National Organising Secretary Chris Gina or SACTWU’S KZN Regional Secretary Dennis Maluleka on 031 3011351.