Staffing agency drags labour minister to court over extension of collective bargaining agreement .

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Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi.

Photo: GCIS

Employment agency Innovative Staffing Solutions (ISS) is taking legal action against Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi, claiming government is trying, unlawfully, to strong-arm members of the transport and logistics sector into an extended collective bargaining agreement.

ISS filed an urgent application before the Johannesburg Labour Court earlier this week. It wants to block the extension of the collective agreement to non-members and wants the court to review the matter urgently.

ISS is also taking legal action against the National Bargaining Council for the Road, Freight, and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI), employer organisations and unions in the sector. According to ISS, the extension of the agreement to them did not take place with adequate procedures and will affect the business, employee wages, and jobs. 

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A statement from ISS said Nxesi failed to comply with section 32 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA), which states that the minister must first request and consider comments from all impacted parties before proceeding with the extension.

ISS managing director Arnoux Maré said he was of the view that Nxesi breached his duty of procedural fairness and care and prejudiced the rights of ISS in his actions.

"These rules [in the LRA] 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," said Maré.

Maré said the outsourcing company provides permanent employment to over 36 000 employers across the country in mining, engineering, construction, retail, agriculture, and transportation and logistics.

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Maré said ISS salaries and benefits all exceed the minimum provisions of the council's main collective agreement, and registering with the NBCRFLI would force ISS to reduce its wages and benefits for 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," Maré said.

The Department of Employment and Labour did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Fin24. Any comment from the department will be added to this article as and when it is provided.

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