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ConCourtBL Premium reports that the rights of millions of SA workers will be debated on Tuesday at the Constitutional Court (ConCourt), where the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) will argue that workers can be represented even by unions that normally represent a different sector.

If the court agrees with Numsa, millions of workers will benefit from a broader range of unions to assist in unfair dismissal disputes. In 2017, Afgri Animal Feeds refused to grant Numsa workplace organisational rights, which would have allowed Numsa to participate in collective bargaining between workers and Afgri. More than 100 of its workers then went on a two-day strike in 2017. Twelve of these workers were dismissed and Numsa referred an unfair dismissal dispute to the Labour Court (LC). Afgri argued Numsa could not bring the matter because it had no standing to represent these workers as they were from the animal feed manufacturing sector and Numsa’s constitution stipulated that it represented metalworkers and those from related sectors. The LC dismissed the entire case. In 2021 Numsa appealed against this ruling to the Labour Appeal Court (LAC), which in 2022 overturned the LC’s findings in favour of Numsa. The LAC held that Afgri’s concerns were misplaced as Numsa was not trying to engage in collective bargaining, where its expertise and knowledge of the particular industry was relevant. Further, the relationship between Numsa and members was of no concern to Afgri, since Numsa was a voluntary association and could administer its own membership. Aggrieved by this finding, Afgri appealed to the ConCourt.

  • Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tauriq Moosa at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

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