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Extension of the Main Agreement: Leave to Appeal Refused.

Dec 6, 2022




Dear Steel Industry employer
As previously communicated, NEASA filed a petition for leave to appeal at the Labour Appeal Court (LAC) to appeal the judgement of the Labour Court which dismissed NEASA’s urgent application to interdict the extension of the MEIBC Consolidated Main Agreement (‘the Agreement’) to non-parties.
The LAC has dismissed the petition for leave to appeal without providing any reasons.
These decisions by, in the first instance the Labour Court, and now the LAC are, to say the least, shocking. This was a case which we, in our view, including that of our very Senior Counsel, could not lose. However, not only did we lose the initial application, as well as the request for leave to appeal in the Labour Court, but also the petition for leave to appeal in the LAC. In the last two instances, both these courts ruled that there is simply no prospect that any court can find in our favour in respect of any of the grounds we had raised in our initial application.
We wish to remind you of the grounds contained in the initial application: 

  • the removal of the President as Chairperson of the meeting, with the objective to achieve a particular outcome, was irregular and not in compliance with the MEIBC’s Constitution;
  • by disregarding clause 8(12) of the MEIBC’s Constitution, there was no constitutionally valid decision, and this resulted in an invalid vote and an unlawful decision;
  • by allowing a party, which is not a party to the Agreement and who is not affected by it, to vote, was not in accordance with section 32(1) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA);
  • the 2021 Main Agreement does not contain exemption criteria to be applied by the independent appeal body; and
  • the new phase-in exemption in the 2021 Main Agreement is only available to employers who are members of signatories to the 2021 Main Agreement. The Minister could not possibly have been satisfied, in light of the phase-in exemption, that the requirements of section 32(3)(dA), 32(3)(e) and section 32(3)(g) of the LRA, which prohibits discriminatory clauses, had been met. As such, it was irrational for the MEIBC to take the decision to request the extension of an agreement containing such terms. 

It is utterly incomprehensible that a court can find, not only that none of these grounds had any merit, but also that no other court can come to a different conclusion. Or perhaps this is simply a matter of keeping this diabolic dispensation alive, regardless of the merit of this case, and despite the overall devastation it is causing, the deindustrialisation, the business closures, the job losses, the consequent socio-economic instability and the hypocritical and immoral nature thereof.

Martin Luther King Jnr once said:
“If you can’t drive, you run;
if you can’t run, you walk;
if you can’t walk, you crawl;
but keep moving.”

It is with this attitude that NEASA, and all employers prejudiced by the current state of affairs, will move forward. We are considering our legal options in this regard, and we will not give up the fight.

In the interim, employers in the Sector will be obligated to observe the provisions of the Agreement. However, employers still have the option to apply for exemption from the provisions of the Agreement and can contact Rona Bekker at in this regard. 










For more information:
NEASA Media Department 


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