Court Battle Brewing As PRASA Backs Out Of Wage Agreement

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) has instructed its legal team to take action against the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to implement the multi-year wage agreement, which UNTU signed a few weeks ago.

This comes after rumours started circulating recently, that the National Treasury informed Prasa that it is not allowed to implement any wage increase this year (2020) as it is considered as being part of the public service where government is saying it cannot afford the R26 billion wage bill.

Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, says this is ridiculous. Prasa has been engaging with UNTU at the Prasa Bargaining Forum for months on the wage agreement before the parties reached the multi-year agreement.

Harris was informed that this was the first time that National Treasury mentioned to Prasa that they are not allowed to pay out any wage increases. “Should this be the case, it means that Labour has wasted all these months during the wage negotiations and our members had been led around be their noses.”

According to Harris, UNTU declared a dispute and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) issued a certificate of non-resolution, which allows UNTU members to embark on a “Protected Strike” after giving Prasa forty eight (48) hours-notice.

It was after the certificate was issued that the Accounting Authority, Badisa Matshego, which was appointed by National Treasury, revised Prasa’s final wage offer. UNTU obtained a mandate from its members before the wage agreement was signed.

Harris says the agreement is binding on Prasa and all its employees as UNTU is the majority union in the state-owned enterprise. “UNTU will not tolerate this blatant disregard for collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is a fundamental right that is rooted in the International Labour Organisations Constitution, South Africa’s Constitution and the Labour Relations Act. What Prasa is doing now, is making a mockery thereof,” says Harris.

In the public service, the Trade Union represented in the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) and the Department of Public Service and Administration have brought applications against each other, which will be heard in the Labour Appeal Court on 2 December 2020.

Irrespective of the outcome, both parties indicated that it would fight the principal in the Constitutional Court, as it impacts on the legitimacy of any “Collective Agreements” in South Africa.

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