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Sactwu stands firm on collective bargaining rights

28 March, 2013Sactwu is considering whether it will appeal a High Court ruling that set aside the Minister of Labour’s decision to extend the 2010 clothing industry wage agreement to companies not party to the clothing industry bargaining council.

The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union has responded to the ruling saying that the ruling does not set aside the minimum wage regime in the clothing industry. It also does not mean that non compliant companies now have the right to negotiate outside of the bargaining council system.  Sactwu General Secretary Andre Kriel stated, “For us, the bargaining council remains the only place where we intend to bargain. There will be no negotiations outside this forum.”

Whilst the ruling does not mean that the Minister will no longer in future be able to extend a bargaining council agreement to non-parties, it may set a bad industrial relations legal precedent.  The ruling comes a week after the Free Market Foundation, an organization promoting free market ideals, filed a constitutional challenge against the provisions of the Labour Relations Act that allows collective agreements made in bargaining councils to be extended to employers and employees who are not members of the councils.

“This brutal attack against our country’s democratically legislated industrial relations system, in particular its collective bargaining architecture, cannot be left unchallenged," said Kriel, speaking of the challenge. “We will mobilize to resist the reactionary, right wing economic and destructive intentions of the Free Market Foundation. Their intentions are not of any goodwill. It is nothing other than to create more and more exploitative conditions of vulnerable workers, to militate against our nation’s stated vision of decent work and to unleash a race to the bottom.”