ISS takes legal action against Labour Minister, Road Freight Bargaining Council, and seven others

Innovative Staffing Solutions (ISS) has launched a legal action at the Labour Court in Johannesburg against Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi, the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI), and various other parties following the Minister’s questionable extension of the Council’s Main Collective Agreement.

ISS has asked the Court to urgently review the matter, and set the Minister’s decision aside.

Notices of motion regarding the application were served earlier today to the Department of Employment and Labour, the Bargaining Council, and seven other trade unions and employers’ organisations who were party to the application for the collective agreement’s extension, including the Road Freight Association (RFA) and National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA).

In February this year, the Minister extended amendments to the NBCRFLI’s Main Collective Agreement to non-parties in the industry, and further extended the period of operation of this collective agreement to February 2024.

In its filing, however, ISS states that it believes that the Minister failed to comply with the provisions of section 32 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) which demand that he first request and consider comments from all impacted parties before proceeding with the extension.

Before granting an extension, the Minister is specifically required to publish a notice in the Government Gazette stating that he has received an application from the relevant Bargaining Council for an extension; where a copy of this application can be found; and allowing at least 21 days for public comment from the date of the publication of the notice.

ISS’ Managing Director Arnoux Maré notes that it therefore seems that the Minister breached his duty of procedural fairness and care, and prejudiced the rights of ISS and other non-parties in the industry to note their concerns.

“No one is above the ambit of the law, not even the Minister,” he says.

“These rules exist for a reason, and the Minister and Bargaining Council cannot be allowed to ignore the rights of the businesses, employers and employees potentially harmed by the extension.”

Maré states that this case will have a material effect on ISS, especially in light of its ongoing fight to protect the rights of its employees against the Bargaining Council.

ISS is an operational outsourcing company which provides permanent employment to over 36,000 staff across the country in sectors including mining, engineering, construction, retail, agriculture, and transportation and logistics.

The company remains locked in a legal battle against the Bargaining Council over the question of whether it falls within the Council’s jurisdiction, and subsequently whether it should be forced to comply with the Council’s Main Collective Agreement.

Maré emphasises, however that ISS’ salaries and benefits all exceed the minimum provisions of the Council’s Main Collective Agreement. Should ISS be made to register with the Council, it would be forced to reduce its salaries and benefits for employees, which include a comprehensive medical aid and provident fund.

“Yet despite this, the Bargaining Council remains intent on enforcing its Main Collective Agreement, effectively bolstering its own finances at the expense of ISS employees.

“We believe that the Court will see the seriousness of this case, and agree that the Minister’s extension of the Main Collective Agreement was questionable. This will prevent the Bargaining Council from relying on this agreement in its future interactions with ISS.”