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Numsa loses ConCourt bid to have 733 workers reinstated in retrenchment dispute

29 October 2020 11:20 AM
Tags:
Constitutional Court
NUMSA
Union
Jobs
Retrenchment
Aveng Trident Steel

The Constitutional Court has ruled that an employer may retrench its employees if they unreasonably refuse to accept changes to employment contracts.

In March this year, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) approached the Constitutional Court to seek the reinstatement of 733 workers who were retrenched by Aveng Trident Steel.

The employer issued a Section 189 notice in 2014, informing workers of its plans to restructure the company, due to operational requirements after a decline in the steel industry.

More than 700 employees were retrenched by Aveng Trident Steel in 2015 after they refused to accept an offer of alternative employment.

Numsa attempted to challenge the matter on behalf of its members, arguing that they were unfairly dismissed, in terms of the Labour Relations Act.

The union lost two previous legal challenges at the Labour Court, and the Labour Appeals Court before approaching the ConCourt.

Now the Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of Aveng Trident Steel, upholding the previous rulings which found that the dismissal of the workers was fair.

Employment attorney Andre Vlok says the ConCourt judgment serves as an important lesson for all labour unions when dealing with retrenchment processes.

It's a clarion call for unions to approach this type of negotiation very responsibly.

Andre Vlok, Employment attorney

Numsa's argument was that Aveng was trying to hide a dismissal, for the employee's refusal to accept amended working conditions, as a retrenchment.

Andre Vlok, Employment attorney

The Constitutional Court just confirms the previous decisions by the lower courts.

Andre Vlok, Employment attorney

The Constitutional Court agreed with Aveng that it was a retrenchment, it was a proper termination of employment for operational requirements.

Andre Vlok, Employment attorney

The Constitutional Court handed down judgment on Tuesday 27 October. You can read the full judgment here.

Listen to Andre Vlok on Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto:


29 October 2020 11:20 AM
Tags:
Constitutional Court
NUMSA
Union
Jobs
Retrenchment
Aveng Trident Steel

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