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SACTWU vs all NBC party clothing employer associations

In early 2006, SACTWU declared a dispute against all the clothing employer associations which were then party to the clothing bargaining council. We contended that the terms of the party-to-party clothing wage agreements and the NBC constitution placed a requirement on the employers to automatically agree to the extension of the gazetted wage agreement to non-party employers. The employer associations disputed this. The Northern Decentralised Clothing Manufacturers Association, the Northern KZN Clothing Manufacturers' Association, the Lower South Coast Clothing Manufacturers' Association and the Natal Clothing Manufacturers' Association decided to contest the matter at arbitration, while all the other employer associations undertook to abide by the outcome of the arbitration. The main contention of the clothing employers was that a decision to extend the agreement must be done by a vote in Council and for which at least an 75% employer vote was required.

The matter was arbitrated and the arbitrator ruled in SACTWU's favour. The arbitration award instructed the employers to support the renewal and further extension of the gazetted wage agreement.

This case is significant in that it now means that whenever the clothing bargaining council adopts a wage agreement there is an automatic requirement for it to be gazetted and extended to non-party companies, without a vote in Council. It further means (if the terms of the party to party agreement on this matter remains the same in future) that the Minister has the discretion to extend the agreement for whatever period he deems fit.