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.’

It is settled law that one of the requirements of a lockout is that it is to be preceded by a demand from the employer in respect of a matter of mutual interest.  Does this equate to a lockout notice?

What is the purpose of a lockout?

What are the requirements to be met for an urgent application to be granted in the labour court?