Article 53/2021

Labour Edge

How do you determine the true nature of a dispute?


In National Union of Metalworkers of SA and Others v Bader Bop (Pty) Ltd 2003 (3) SA 513 (CC), (2003) 24 ILJ 305 (CC), at paragraph [52], it was held that:

‘It is the duty of a court to ascertain the true nature of the dispute between the parties. In ascertaining the real dispute, a court must look at the substance of the dispute and not at the form in which it is presented. The label given to a dispute by a party is not necessarily conclusive.  The true nature of the dispute must be distilled from the history of the dispute, as reflected in the communications between the parties and between the parties and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration (CCMA), before and after referral of such dispute. These would include referral documents, the certificate of outcome and all relevant communications. It is also important to bear in mind that parties may modify their demands in the course of discussing the dispute or during the conciliation process. All of this must be taken into consideration in ascertaining the true nature of the dispute.’

In Minister of Police v M and Others (2016) 27 SALLR 53 (LC); (2017) 38 ILJ 402 (LC), the labour court identified the content of hearsay evidence of a special type affording greater weight than simple hearsay.  What is the approach adopted by the labour court in such case as to the transcript of an internal enquiry admitted as hearsay evidence in terms of s3(1)(c) of the Law of Evidence Amendment Act?  Subsequent to such judgment, the labour court, in Department of Home Affairs v General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council and Others (2019) 30 SALLR 172 (LC); (2019) 40 ILJ 2544 (LC), had the opportunity to apply the approach adopted in the aforesaid judgment to the specific facts of this matter.  In this subsequent judgment, how did the labour court identify such transcript of an internal enquiry as not constituting hearsay of a special type (as required in Minister of Police v M (supra))?

According to the constitutional court, when a referral is made to the CCMA or a bargaining council concerning a dismissal, is it a requirement that the reason for the dismissal (i.e. misconduct, incapacity poor work performance, etc) is also identified in order for such CCMA or bargaining council to require the requisite jurisdiction?

What are the principles governing hearsay evidence as contained in the Law of Evidence Amendment Act 45 of 1998 and applied by the labour court in, inter alia, Swiss South Africa (Pty) Ltd v Louw NO [2006] 4 BLLR 373 (LC) and NUMSA v SA Metal & Engineering Industries Bargaining Council and Others (2014) 25 SALLR 4 (LC)?