Court dismisses Neasa application

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Johannesburg - Labour body Neasa on Monday lost a court application that forms part of its bid to stop the extension of a wage agreement to other unions.

The National Employers' Association of SA (Neasa) wanted the Labour Court to prevent the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) from asking the labour minister to extend an agreement, reached between the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa) and trade unions in July, to those who were not party to that agreement.

Neasa chief executive Gerhard Papenfus said the association would continue to contest all attempts by the labour minister to extend the agreement with all means at its disposal.

"The extension of this agreement will only result in further job losses in an already crippled metal industry," he said.

Collective bargaining

The association wanted the court to declare the management committee, appointed by the MEIBC's annual general meeting, invalid. It further wanted all decisions taken by the committee relating to the extension of the agreement to be declared invalid.

The agreement was reached outside constitutional structures and in an unconstitutional manner, which had led to the collapse of centralised collective bargaining, Papenfus said.

A strike in the metals industry began on 1 July and lasted four weeks.

Seifsa signed the agreement on 29 July on behalf of the 24 federated associations and two associations that were still involved in internal mandating processes.

In terms of the three-year agreement workers would get increases of between 8 - 10% in the first year, 7.5 and 10% in the second year and 7 - 10% in the third year.

Neasa announced it would lock out union members who participated in the strike because its demands had not been considered during the wage negotiations.

No rules

Neasa members wanted a standardised entry-level wage and a revamped exemptions policy. It offered an 8% across-the-board salary increase.

Papenfus said on Monday that employers would not subject themselves to "such unlawful agreements".

"This in effect implies that no rules need apply when a bargaining council makes a decision," he said.

"This judgement opens the door for bargaining councils to function in an illegal, unconstitutional and lawless manner. This is a sad day for the administration of justice."

Neasa would study the judgment.

An appeal to the Labour Appeal Court was likely, Papenfus said.

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