The labour court in Johannesburg on Thursday set aside a labour department decision to deregister the Communication Workers Union (CUW). The court further stopped the department from publishing the deregistration of the union in the Government Gazette after an urgent interdict by the CWU.
The CWU and the department agreed to have the union’s deregistration suspended and be set down for arguments in the labour court on 10 August. This would allow the department to file its documentation in this regard. The agreement also was also made part of the court order.
“CWU believes that this court order gives hope that victory is certain,” union spokesman Matankana Mothapo said.
According to Business Report, the labour department terminated the CWU’s legal status on 25 July. With more than 30 000 members, it was the largest employee representative grouping under the bargaining council in the information and communications technology sector.
The publication reported that CWU’s troubles began in November when the department accused it of contravening sections 98, 99 and 100 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) by failing to provide financial statements since 2006. It had also reportedly ceased to function in terms of its constitution.
Trade union Solidarity said the deregistration of the CWU drew renewed attention to the negative impact the proposed inclusion of subsection 111(5) in the LRA would have on unions.
“This amendment will result in trade unions, who appeal against deregistration, [having] to suspend their activities for the duration of the process, which will have a destructive effect on unions and their members,” Solidarity said in a statement.
Johan Kruger, head of the Solidarity research institute, said current legislation opened the possibility for unions which appealed deregistration to still represent their members in the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), and during wage negotiations.
“The proposed amendment of section 111 has the potential to devastate a trade union, even if its appeal against deregistration eventually succeeds.”
He said a trade union deregistered mistakenly would lose its bargaining power, leaving thousands of workers without protection in the workplace. — Sapa