Johannesburg – A judge has read the EFF the riot act over involving itself in labour disputes, telling it to register as a trade union if it insists on organising strikes against employers.

Johannesburg Labour Court Acting Judge Reghana Tulk presided in a final interdict application by the owners of a Spar franchise brought against the EFF.

Brightstone Trading dragged the party to the Labour Court over unrest that hit its Roodepoort Spar supermarket.

Members of the EFF’s Sofasonke Mpanza Region descended on the Spar after the owners refused to engage on issues involving employees.

In an action declared unlawful by the Labour Court, the EFF members staged protests with a handful of Spar employees on May 16 and again from May 28 to June 1. The standoff was sparked by the demotion of an employee from floor manager to cashier.

The Sofasonke Mpanza Region’s letter told owners before the protests that it sought to engage on issues including employees’ daily rates, alleged racism and favouritism. It also sought to discuss alleged unfair treatment pertaining to alleged threats to workers that they would be fired if they joined the EFF.

Brightstone first obtained an interim interdict order on June 1 and returned to the Braamfontein-based Labour Court for a final interdict.

Judge Tulk ruled in her judgment delivered last week that the EFF’s action was unlawful.

“There can be no doubt that the first respondent’s members who are also the applicant’s employees embarked in unlawful conduct,” she said. “They committed acts of intimidation, obstruction and blockading of premises, among others.”

Judge Tulk said the EFF’s “emphatic view” that its members’ intervention in a labour dispute was lawful was devoid of merit.

As the EFF was not a workers’ union, its members’ actions undermined the dispute resolution processes prescribed by the Labour Relations Act (LRA), said the judge.

“In sum, the first respondent involved itself in workplace matters that did not concern it because it has no standing as a trade union,” said Judge Tulk. “The first respondent was not entitled to organise employees in the applicant’s workplace, or for that matter engage in unlawful protest action in pursuance of demands it simply has no standing to make.

“… If it wants to do so, it must register as a trade union, and comply with the LRA.”

The EFF had become trusted by workers in various sectors to intervene in their disputes with employers. It had formed a labour desk to this end.

Its spokespersons, Vuyani Pambo and Delisile Ngwenya, did not reply to requests for comment on Wednesday. Their phones went unanswered and they also did not respond to SMSes.

Judge Tulk ruled that Brightstone was correct to not expect a political party to involve itself in labour issues.

“The applicant is entitled to expect the EFF not to become involved in its employment matters, and the breach of its right reinforces its entitlement to final interdictory relief.”

In addition to the final interdict, Judge Tulk also slapped the EFF with legal costs.

Source: | By: Bongani Nkosi | 24 June 2021