The National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on Thursday rebuffed claims that it was biased when issuing Section 77 certificates to applying trade unions.
Section 77 certificates protect workers who take part in socioeconomic protests.
Newly formed union federation the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) will protest on Friday, during the council’s Annual Summit, to pressure Nedlac to consider its applications following Saftu’s claims of bias.
Concerning Saftu's request for affiliation to Nedlac's labour constituency, Nedlac said there was no record of a membership application by Saftu, but that it had received three requests for information from Saftu.
Nedlac stated that two of Saftu’s information requests had been responded to and a response for the third was still being worked on.
The council stated that it could not argue against the constitutionally enshrined right of individuals and formations to protest, provided this was done within the confines of the law.
Nedlac’s Secretariat stated that all applications received were handled as prescribed by the Nedlac Protocols and Procedure for Considering Notices of Possible Protest Action in terms of Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995 (LRA) by the Section 77 Standing Committee, guided by the principle of impartially.
“There is no intention or benefit derived by Council in stalling the issuing of certificates to applicants. The representation of all four constituencies (Business, Community, Government and Labour) of Council in the standing committee is to ensure fair hearing and consideration of applications. It is therefore a misinformed argument to assume that Nedlac is biased in delivering on this mandate,” the council said in a statement.
The council has handled four applications from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the current calendar year.
Only one of these had been issued a certificate while the rest were being heard in the standing committee, where engagement is facilitated between the applicant and respondents.
“Cosatu’s application on State capture and corruption was concluded just after one meeting where the respondent, which in this case is government and its State-owned entities, responded to issues raised in the application; and it was clear from there that the matter would not be resolved in the standing committee,” revealed Nedlac.
Regarding the recent application lodged by Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union on job losses, the council stated that the second application was successful because it met the administrative requirements of the LRA.
The council reinforced that it remained committed to its founding declaration of strengthening cooperative mechanisms to address the challenges facing South Africa’s new democracy in an impartial manner.