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Pretoria High Court dismisses the application by Free Market Foundation challenge to collective bargaining

5 May 2016

The Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant and her department welcome the judgment handed down by Judge Murphy on 4th May 2016 which dismissed the application by the Free Market Foundation. The Free Market Foundation brought a significant constitutional challenge to the system of collective bargaining in South Africa, in particular, to the extension of collective agreements.

The Free Market Foundation brought their application against the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and forty seven Bargaining Councils in early 2013. Later, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Unions joined the matter to defend the system of collective bargaining. The Minister of Labour would like to acknowledge the support of all the parties who spent time and resources in opposing the application brought by the Free Market Foundation.

The judgment finds that the Labour Relations Act is not inconsistent with the Constitution and that it contains adequate provisions to satisfy administrative justice. This is a significant finding in the context of a number of challenges over the past few years to the extension of collective agreements by the Minister at the request of Bargaining Councils. It brings certainty to the current system of collective bargaining contained in the Labour Relations Act and should give assurance to all parties to collective bargaining arrangements that the extension of collective agreements is a legitimate way of regulating terms and conditions of employment in the South African labour market.

One of the purposes of the Labour Relations Act is to promote orderly collective bargaining and to do so at sector level. The Department will continue to strive to achieve this purpose through appropriate policies and through social dialogue with its social partners. The Department hopes that the parties to collective bargaining will reflect on the judgment in the Free Market Foundation case and we hope that it will support their efforts to further strengthen collective bargaining in South Africa.

For more information please call:

Sithembele Tshwete
Media Liaison Officer
Ministry of Labour
071 675 9849