Labour Court dismisses Numsa’s application for leave to appeal interdict

Last week Judge Graham Moshoana granted the union's aggrieved leaders and members an urgent application to stop the election of new national leadership.

Numsa national congress under way in Wednesday, 27 July 2022. Picture: Theto Mahlakoana/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - The Labour Court has dismissed metalworkers union Numsa’s application for leave to appeal its interdict against convening the national congress of the country’s largest union.

The court heard arguments in the matter on Wednesday night.

Last week Judge Graham Moshoana granted the union's aggrieved leaders and members an urgent application to stop the election of new national leadership.

However, Numsa defied the court order claiming to have satisfied all the requirements of the court concerning their central committee’s infringement of the union’s constitution.

However Wednesday night the court heard that this was a lie as lawyers for the group contesting the holding of the conference listed the items that were not corrected as per the interdict.

The ruling paves the way for the decisions of the congress – including the election of leaders as witnessed last night to be nullified.

Judge M­­­­­­­­­oshoana said Numsa failed to meet the heightened test needed to satisfy leave to appeal.

In the judgement handed down on Thursday morning, Moshoana wrote that a trade union’s constitution cannot be interpreted like a commercial contract – adding that there are no implied terms in trade union constitutions.

The constitutions of trade unions in South Africa are a strict requirement as provisioned for in the Labour Relations Act and one of the instruments used to register such bodies.

On Wednesday, Numsa lawyers argued that the court’s interpretation of the constitution was too narrow – imploring Moshoana to view it in broad terms as it would any other contract between an entity and its employee - which can be stretched in meaning.

Moshoana had earlier ruled that the decision-making body in the union – the central committee had repeatedly flouted the union’s constitution.

The judge further said it was disturbing that the congress continuing despite the court interdict.

He added that it was unguided and unwise as the judicial authority in South Africa is with the courts and parties must patiently wait when instructed to do so.

READ: Numsa's chaotic congress spawns new leadership

Numsa has since elected its national leadership.

Jubilant delegates belonging to the Jim slate told Eyewitness News last night that they were elated at their defeat of the faction that sought change in the union.

Mbuso Ngubane is the union’s new deputy general secretary – filling the vacancy left by Karl Cloete upon his retirement from the union.

Ngubane who steps into the operations machinery of the country’s largest trade union has been described as irreverent by workers in KwaZulu-Natal where he has served as secretary for many years.

In 2015, he was charged with fraud and extortion for forcing an employee of the union to hand over a large portion of his salary to him monthly with the CCMA ordering he repays the employee who was later fired by Ngubane.

Andrew Chirwa returns as president along with Mphumzi Maqungo.

Mac Chavalala who took Numsa’s side in the SA Federation of Trade Union’s battle is the new first deputy president.

Meanwhile, the Northern Cape’s Puleng Phaka replaces Ruth Ntlokose as second deputy president.