Judg­ment on MEIBC to­mor­row

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Di­neo Faku

THE LABOUR Court will to­mor­row hand down a judg­ment that will pave the way for whether or not the Me­tal and En­gi­neer­ing In­dus­tries Bar­gain­ing Coun­cil (MEIBC) should be placed un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion. The ad­min­is­tra­tor will be re­spon­si­ble for fa­cil­i­tat­ing dis­cus­sions for the first levy in­crease in more than five years among mem­bers of the trou­bled MEIBC.

Trade Union Sol­i­dar­ity on Fri­day ap­proached the court to place the MEIBC un­der busi­ness res­cue in a bid to save the coun­cil from bank­ruptcy.

Should the court rule in favour of Sol­i­dar­ity’s ap­pli­ca­tion, it will set a prece­dent for dis­tressed bar­gain­ing coun­cils as it means that they will be placed un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion in­stead of be­ing liq­ui­dated. The Labour Re­la­tions Act does not pro­vide re­lief for fi­nan­cially un­sta­ble bar­gain­ing coun­cils, Paul Kennedy, SC, for Sol­i­dar­ity told Act­ing Judge Sean Sny­man in the Labour Court on Fri­day.

“There is rea­son to be­lieve that the rea­son why it (MEIBC) can­not func­tion can be reme­died through the in­tro­duc­tion of an ad­min­is­tra­tor,” said Kennedy. “There must be scope for seek­ing rem­edy to the prob­lem,” he said.

The MEIBC is crit­i­cal in dis­pute res­o­lu­tions to its 10 000 mem­ber com­pa­nies that em­ploy about 340 000 peo­ple in the met­als in­dus­try.

How­ever, Sol­i­dar­ity ‘s deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary, Mar­ius Crou­camp, said that MEIBC’s fi­nan­cial po­si­tion had de­te­ri­o­rated over time to such an ex­tent that it could no longer per­form its dis­pute res­o­lu­tion func­tion.

“This is a land­mark case which will bring re­lief to strug­gling bar­gain­ing coun­cils and en­sure that they are not liq­ui­dated,” said Crou­cramp.

Mem­bers of MEIBC did not agree on a num­ber of is­sues in­clud­ing that unions and em­ploy­ers were at log­ger­heads over the levy in­crease.

There was also a lot of ten­sion be­tween the MEIBC and its mem­ber the Na­tional Em­ploy­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of SA (Neasa) which rep­re­sented small busi­nesses in the in­dus­try.

Neasa has chal­lenged in court all MEIBC col­lec­tive agree­ments, in­clud­ing agree­ments to in­crease levies which is the only coun­cil source of in­come. It also suc­ceeded in set­ting aside all gazetted agree­ment based on tech­ni­cal­i­ties. The last time MEIBC levy was in­creased was in 2011, and it had been op­er­at­ing with the 2011 bud­get for the past five years.

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