The Johannesburg Labour Appeal Court has announced December 2 as the date for the much-anticipated joint legal battle by the Public Servants Association of SA (PSA) and Cosatu-affiliated unions against the department of public service and administration over the latter’s failure to implement the final-year increases of a 2018 wage agreement.
Judge President Basheer Waglay, after considering the request made by the PSA and Cosatu-affiliated unions involved in the matter, has allowed proceedings to be heard before the court.
In a letter sent to the applicants on Thursday, Waglay indicated that this was the “earliest that this matter can be accommodated”, even though the applicants made their submissions last month.
The letter made it clear that Waglay would have preferred that the matter be heard in a labour court, however, he allowed it, given the applicants’ insistence that to avoid an appeal the matter should be heard as a matter of finality at the appeals court.
“Although the judge president is of the view that this is not the sort of matter which should forgo a hearing by the labour court, he has decided, for a number of reasons, to have the matter ventilated in the labour appeal court as a court of first instance,” reads the registrar of the labour appeal court’s letter.
Acting PSA general manager Reuben Maleka welcomed the announcement by Waglay, saying: “We are happy that we will at least end the year having dealt with the court matter. Mainly [it is] that members will go into the festive season with their salary increase affected with back pay”.
The PSA took the matter to court after the department failed to implement a 2018 multiyear collective bargaining agreement which provided that, for the April 1 2020 to March 31 2021 financial year, employees on salary levels one to seven would be entitled to increases in line with the projected consumer index level (CPI).
Treasury calculated this at 4.4% plus 1%, while workers in levels eight to 10 were to get the projected CPI plus 0.5%, and those in levels 11 and 12 were to receive only 4.4% increase.
So that the proceedings go ahead as planned, Waglay has instructed the applicants and respondents to “ensure that all paperwork is timeously completed and the last set of heads are filed by no later than November 20 2020”.
The parties have also been informed that “the hearing will be dealt with using video conferencing techniques, unless the partiers elect to have the matter dealt with on the basis of written submissions”.
Waglay also committed to informing the parties involved of the presiding judges by November 20.