The Labour Court in Johannesburg today dismissed the urgent application brought by the United National Transport Union (UNTU) against the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to force it to adhere to a collective agreement and pay this year’s 5% wage increase.
According to Acting Judge Reghana Tulk the Union “failed to explicitly” set out why the implementation of the wage increase is considered urgent. She also ruled that the Labour Court did not have jurisdiction on this matter as Prasa employees can individually submit civil claims against their employer in the high court.
The judge ruled that Prasa, by paying the first year of the wage agreement in December last year, admitted that it is liable for the payment. Prasa paid the increase backdated to 1 April 2020 in December last year after UNTU brought a previous urgent application to the Labour Court which was also dismissed.
“Now that the second yearly increases have fallen due, Prasa has again failed to comply with its obligations and UNTU complains of the possibility that this may transpire for the duration of the agreement. Thus, it invites this court to set a precedent that organs of the state comply with collective agreements concluded in good faith, failing which the ramifications of collective bargaining will be detrimental.
“If the matter is not heard now, it is highly unlikely that the applicant (UNTU) will be able to successfully enforce its rights in an alternative forum in 2022,” said the Judge.
She referred to Prasa’s intention to pay the wage increase once it had secured the money from the Department of Transport and National Treasury to do so.
Earlier Zolani Matthews, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Prasa, informed the leadership of UNTU that Prasa is committed to paying the 5% wage increase in terms of a multi-term agreement, but do not have the money to pay.
UNTU will keep its members abreast of developments.