MEC of the Western Cape Provincial Government Health Department v Coetzee (CA3/2011) [2015] ZALAC 35; [2015] 11 BLLR 1108; (2015) ILJ 3010 (LAC) (24 August 2015) per Coppin JA [Tlaletsi DJP and Ndlovu JA concurring]

The Labour Appeal Court allowed the appeal and set aside the Labour Court orders of Cheadle AJ and Rabkin-Naicker J and replaced them with “No order is made in respect of the applicants’ claim and no costs order is made.”

LAC Summary:

Main dispute about interpretation and application of collective agreement- Labour Court not empowered to sit as arbitrator in terms of section 158(2)(b) of the Labour Relations Act- where matter had to be referred to conciliation (arbitration) and a party, deliberately and with knowledge of such fact, nevertheless, does not refer the matter to the appropriate forum for arbitration, but brings the claim directly to the Labour Court and requests the court to sit as arbitrator .

The parties’ consent does not give the Labour Court the power or confer on it the jurisdiction to sit as arbitrator in the circumstances – sections 77(3) and 77A of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act do not give the Labour Court the jurisdiction or the power to resolve that dispute.