Article 48/2021

Labour Edge

Does the LRA impose a duty to bargain?


In Bidair Services (Pty) Ltd v Makgoba NO and Others (2019) 30 SALLR 168 (LC), the labour court recently stated the following:

It should be recalled that the basic structure of the LRA is one that does not impose a duty to bargain. Rather, the constitutional right to engage in collective bargaining finds expression in a strong set of organisational rights (those referred to in s12 to s16 of the LRA) and the right to strike in support of a demand that a party be recognised as a collective bargaining agent, or any other element of what the LRA defines as a refusal to bargain.  If the conceptual integrity of this structure is to be maintained (as it must), then commissioners (and judges) must be cautious not to confuse what are two discrete concepts and thus run the risk of imposing a duty to bargain.  The structure of the LRA is one in which commissioners and judges have no role in determining whether one party should bargain collectively with another, the subject matter of any collective bargaining, the level at which bargaining should be conducted, or the identity of any bargaining partner.

The scenario is as follows: an employee is reinstated, not to the date of his dismissal but limiting the employee’s entitlement to remuneration to 24 months.  The employee argues that he or she is entitled to interest on the back pay payable for the 24-month period in terms of s75 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997.  Is the employee, according to Mashaba and Another v Telkom SA Soc Ltd (2020) 31 SALLR 147 (LAC); (2020) 41 ILJ 2437 (LAC), entitled to be paid interest on the back pay from the date of the judgment or, alternatively, entitled to also be paid interest in respect of the periods before the judgment?

A reinstatement order does not in itself reinstate an employee.  How did the labour appeal court recently, in Kubeka and Others v Ni-Da Transport (Pty) Ltd (2021) 32 SALLR 14 (LAC), determine the consequences of such order and how is such reinstatement order enforced?

What is the distinction between s50(2)(a) compensation and s50(2)(b) damages of the EEA and compensation when an automatically unfair dismissal, in terms of s187(1)(f) of the LRA, occurs?