We have published the 16th issue of the 2021 Labour Law Sibergramme, in which John Grogan deals with the following cases:
Anglo American Platinum Ltd v Beyers and others
(JA122/2019)  ZALAC 16 (2 July 2021), unreported (Coppin JA, Savage AJA & Molefe AJA)
Mr Beyers, an electrical technician, pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to comply with “lockout procedures” prescribed by Anglo American’s safety rules to ensure that machinery was not left “live” while being worked on.
After a disciplinary hearing, Beyers was given a final written warning and the presiding officer recommended that he be sent for retraining. Beyers was content with this sanction, but a trade union wasn’t – it claimed that some of its members had been dismissed for similar offences and demanded that Beyers should receive the same treatment.
Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union
(AMCU) v UASA obo Members and others (JA108/2019)  ZALAC 15 (29 June 2021)
Agency shop agreements are aimed at forcing employees who aren’t members of the union parties to contribute to the expenses incurred by the majority union(s) to bargain for better wages. Non-members are called “free riders” because they profit from any increases that are granted. But members of minority unions don’t see themselves as such because they must still pay fees to their unions.
After AMCU gained a majority at Western and Eastern Platinum in 2019. the union persuaded the companies to conclude such an agreement, setting a threshold which all other recognised unions (NUM, UASA and Solidarity) could not reach even with their combined memberships.
De Bruyn v Metorex (Pty) Ltd
(JA 40/2020)  ZALAC 18 (21 July 2021), unreported (Waglay JP, Coppin JA & Molefe AJA)
Mr De Bruyn worked as COO of Metorex, a subsidiary of a China-based holding company, the Johannesburg head of office of which managed a number of mines in Southern Africa. When the holding company realised that the mines were not functioning optimally, it decided to place them under Chinese managers.
This affected head office because it was essential that its personnel could communicate effectively with the mine managers, who all spoke Mandarin. Mr De Bruyn could not, and Metorex issued retrenchment notices to some of its head office staff, including De Bruyn.
After he was retrenched and paid severance pay of a week per year of service, De Bruyn referred a dispute to the Labour Court, claiming that his dismissal was automatically unfair because he was not a Chinese national or a Chinese speaker.
Smith / Faurecia Interior Systems (Pty) Ltd Motor Industries Bargaining Council
case no. MIPT32142 dated 16/06/2021 (Commissioner E Hambidge)
Ms Smith was charged with gross negligence for not foreseeing a stock shortage, which brought production to a halt in Faurecia’s plant and also in the motor assembly factory to which the goods were supplied. An external presiding officer imposed a sanction short of dismissal, but management subsequently overruled the decision and dismissed Smith.
The commissioner agreed that Smith had been grossly negligent and ruled her dismissal substantively fair. But it had transpired during evidence led at the arbitration that management had intervened in the disciplinary process.
VSB Construction t/a Techni-Civils CC v National Union of Mineworkers obo Mngqola and others
(PA11/2018)  ZALAC 21 (23 July 2021), unreported (Davis JA, Sutherland JA and Murphy AJA)
Mr Mngqola, a driver, was upset when a young white colleague was allowed to drive a company vehicle for personal use and he was not. Having discussed the matter with workers, he informed the CEO that he was a racist and repeated that claim to the HR manager when he spoke to him about it. Mngqola was fired.
A bargaining council arbitrator found that Mngqola had indeed made the statements but that the company had “overreacted” because he had merely expressed his feelings, which were understandable.