Judge Nkituta-Nkontwana today reserved judgement in the Labour Court in Johannesburg in the urgent application the United National Transport Union (UNTU) brought against the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to force it to implement the wage agreement signed on 23 October 2020.
PRASA made no objections against the merit of UNTU’s case, but raised legal arguments alleging that the Labour Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter and that it should have been referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Arbitration and Mediation (CCMA).
According to PRASA there is also no specified date in the wage agreement when the increase and the backpay from 1 April 2020 will be paid to employees. PRASA requested the court to strike the matter from the roll.
UNTU argued that by not implementing the wage agreement PRASA is violating a fundamental right of the employees. UNTU members mandated the Union to sign the wage agreement after it was promised that the money will be paid out in the first week in November 2020. The date was later moved to the second week in November 2020.
According to UNTU its members waved its constitutional right to embark on a strike by signing the wage agreement. The agreement has a peace clause in it saying that UNTU members will not embark on industrial action for the duration of the three-year agreement.
If UNTU members would embark on a strike action now, PRASA can approach the Court for an interdict against the Union because it would be acting in breach of the wage agreement. The same principal applies now with PRASA not being able to indicate when the money will be paid out.
UNTU members counted on the salary increase and the backpay for the Festive Season and for January 2021 when school fees are due.
“This promise of payment is the critical element. Not implementing the wage agreement is a gross breach of the constitutional principal of a collective agreement,” UNTU argued.
The Judge was of the view that National Treasury was involved in the proses as the mandate was given to the negotiating team by the Accounting Authority who was appointed by National Treasury.
She also asked PRASA three times when the money will be paid and when they are expecting a response from National Treasury. PRASA could not supply her with answers.
The judgement was then reserved.
UNTU will keep its members abreast of any developments.
Issued on behalf of UNTU by Sonja Carstens, Media Liaison and Communication Officer. For UNTU press release phone Sonja on 082 463 6806 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org