Article 02/2021

Labour Edge

Under which circumstances is conciliation by the CCMA or the relevant bargaining council an indispensable precondition to the labour court’s jurisdiction over unfair dismissal disputes?


  1. In National Union of Metalworkers of SA v lntervalve (Pty) Ltd and Others (2015) 36 ILJ 363 (CC); [2015] 2 BCLR 182 (CC), the constitutional court recently said the following:

‘[34]   Where no certificate has been issued because there was, for example, no conciliation meeting, but a period of 30 days from the date when the council received the referral has elapsed, the statute conspicuously does not provide that the expiry of the 30-day period is sufficient proof that an attempt was made to conciliate the dispute. It is, in my view, in that situation that the Labour Court may, in terms of section 157(4)(a), refuse to determine the dispute. This provision cannot assist in a case where the dispute was not even referred to conciliation. Section 157(4)(a) underlines the importance the LRA places upon the need for attempts to be made to try and resolve the dispute through conciliation before resorting to other methods of resolution.

[40]    Referral for conciliation is indispensable.  It is a precondition to the Labour Court’s jurisdiction over unfair dismissal disputes.’

  1. The above viewpoint was recently applied by Van Niekerk J in Malinga and Others v KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Department of Education and Others (2020) 31 SALLR 101 (LC).

With reference to Mogalakwena Local Municipality v The Provincial Executive Council, Limpopo and Others (2014) JOL 32103, what were the principles recently endorsed by the labour court in Munthali v PRASA (2021) 32 SALLR 22 (LC) when considering whether or not an applicant has established the required urgency when demanding re-employment on an urgent basis?

In the scenario where a senior employee enters into an agreement resolving a grievance of employees, on what basis did the labour appeal court recently hold that such employer is estopped from denying the authority of such senior employee to enter into such agreement?  And, what role does the conduct of the agent play, on the one hand (i.e. the senior employee), and, on the other hand, what role does the conduct of the principal play (i.e. the senior employee’s superior)?

What is the difference between contractual, statutory and collective agreement rights and obligations?