Press Statement dated 5 October 2016

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) will ask the Labour Court in Johannesburg on 20 October to interdict Transnet Soc Limited from forcing its employees to take 13 days’ annual leave in December this year.

UNTU is also asking the court to make an arbitration award of the Transnet Bargaining Council on the leave dispute, an order of the Court.

The Union applied for the application to be heard on an urgent basis after Transnet decided to re-implement the companies revised leave policy knowing that the award was awarded in favour of UNTU.

UNTU declared a dispute on behalf of its members in November last year after Transnet gave notice that it wished to implement a plan where employees who were not needed for its business operations over the Festive Season, would have to take leave from 17 December 2015 to 3 January 2016.

Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, says Transnet has no right to enforce leave on its employees as it constitutes a unilateral change or a variation to a long-standing policy or practice. Transnet refused to reconsider and then UNTU took the matter to arbitration.

During the arbitration Adv. Ngwako Maenetje SC, the arbitrator of the Transnet Bargaining Council, had to interpret the collective agreements regarding annual leave. He found that Transnet had acted in breach of the relative collective agreements when it unilaterally implemented enforced leave during the enforced period. Adv. Maenetje ordered Transnet to re-instate the leave taken pursuant to the festive leave and where applicable, employees who wish to encash or accumulate leave, would have such leave re-instated.

Transnet applied to the Labour Court to review and set aside the arbitration award in UNTU’s favour. The parties are still awaiting a date for the matter to be heard.

Harris says it is unfortunate that Transnet acted maliciously by sending out a letter on 1 September 2016 to its employees informing them that all employees who are not restricted by operational requirements will be required to schedule their leave from 17 to 31 December 2016.

“UNTU objects to the proposed shut down as it could lead to employees needing to make adjustments to and even cancel leave plans because they don’t have enough leave available. In these cases, Transnet wants to deduct leave in advance. This unilateral decision at this late stage of the year will have a devastating impact of the finances, planning and family time of our members over the upcoming Festive Season,” says Mr. Harris.

Issued on behalf of United National Transport Union (UNTU) by Sonja Carstens, Media and Liaison Officer