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The National Employers' Association of South Africa (NEASA) views a decision by the Minister of Labour to extend the MEIBC Main Agreement as unlawful and ill-disposed. On Friday, 12 April, Minister Mildred Oliphant, published in the government gazette her decision to extend the MEIBC Main Agreement until 30 June 2014 to non-parties. Following an application brought by NEASA, the Labour Court, on 20 December 2012, set aside the Minister of Labour’s September 2011 decision to extend the main agreement to non-parties. 

‘In extending this agreement, the Minister has again erred fundamentally on both factual and legal grounds and NEASA is already in a process of preparing an application in the Labour Court to set aside the Minister's decision’, says Gerhard Papenfus, NEASA CEO.  

NEASA has already requested the Minister to submit to us all the documentation on which she relied when she made the decision to extend this agreement. If and when this documentation is made available to us, we will be able to elaborate further on this particular matter.

NEASA is however in the possession of information that points to the following;

The Minister has relied on an audit report with regards to the levels of representivity in relation to the Industry, which was severely manipulated in order to fabricate these levels. Amongst others, the Council has no idea how many employers and employees fall within its registered scope. 

‘NEASA has alerted both the MEIBC management committee and the Minister about these outrageous inconsistencies and deliberate manipulations; however both decided to ignore it, obviously reluctant to be confronted with these embarrassing facts. We will in due course expose this in great detail’, Papenfus said.

The audit inaccurately sets the representivity of the parties at more than 50%. This is an obvious fabrication, since after having a proper and logic interpretation of the audit itself, their representivity is below 25%. 

‘All of this translates into a situation where the minority makes the rules for the majority. All this is done in the name of preserving collective bargaining no matter to what extend facts are manipulated and the industry is prejudiced. It is a  selfish and illegal act aimed at benefitting a minority’, says Papenfus.

According to the Government Gazette of 12 April 2013, the Minister relied on an agreement dated 14 January 2013. NEASA, the biggest employers' organization in the Council, has only seen this 'agreement' for the first time on 12 April 2013, the day of publication of the Government Gazette. Although such a document indeed exists, it is not an agreement reached in the Council as required by the Constitution of the MEIBC and the Labour Relations Act.

‘This agreement is therefore invalid and of no force and effect. The fact that this was presented to the Minister as an 'agreement' is an act of extreme and serious deception. NEASA will appropriately deal with this in due course’, Papenfus added.

NEASA has in the meantime also urged its members to uphold good workplace relations and not to ‘punish’ workers for the incompetence of the roleplayers in the MEIBC. 

‘As far as possible and if financially viable, employers should not withhold increases from employees merely because NEASA intends to bring an application before the courts to set this agreement aside’, Papenfus said.

For more information:

Sya van der Walt

082 332 9512