Friday, January 21

Swarm of court cases rain down on merchandise and logistics negotiating council

Innovative Solutions Group (ISG) and its various subsidiaries say they have endured three years of insults and falsehoods from the National Bargaining Council for the Highway and Freight Logistics Industries (NBCRFLI) and now they have had enough.

Last week he sued the bargaining council for defamation and R6.5 million in damages for the council’s claims that he was operating a temporary employment service (TES) as a way to circumvent the Labor Relations Act.

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The bargaining council has yet to oppose the R6.5 million claim, but this week it requested more time to oppose the matter, which ISG’s lawyers have denied. The council says it has instructed its lawyers to oppose the matter.

Meanwhile, ISG and its subsidiaries have petitioned the court for default judgments.

ISG also subpoenaed the council’s secretary general, Musa Ndlovu, in his defamation case. This follows a circular issued by the council in July stating that ISG was operating a TES and is therefore included in the council’s collective bargaining agreement.

ISG says this statement is defamatory and conveys the impression that the company did not comply with the law and was involved in illegal strategies aimed at circumventing the law.

“The statements were made with the intention of defaming (ISG) and damaging its reputation as a commercial entity,” reads the summons issued by ISG against the council and its secretary general.

Temporary employment services, also known as labor intermediation services, are strictly restricted under the Labor Relations Act due to past abuses whereby workers were denied benefits extended to permanent employees.

The circular issued by the bargaining council informs the readers of ISG’s subsidiaries called Innovative Staffing Solutions (ISS) and Innovative Staff Holdings (ISH), which intends to take care of the staffing requirements of all clients. In terms of Section 197 of the Labor Relations Act (LRA), this means that the staffing service provider also assumes “all job responsibilities and obligations that pertain to those clients’ staff,” the council circular says. He adds that the majority of the clients contracted by ISS and ISH are trucking companies operating within the jurisdiction of the trucking and logistics industry, which places them directly within the purview of the council. The sectoral collective agreements agreed between workers and companies have drawn harsh criticism from smaller companies that are not consulted on the terms, but are nonetheless obliged to comply. The deals are seen to increase the costs of doing business for smaller companies.

ISG Executive Director Arnoux Mare says the Council continues to deliberately mistake ISS for ISH, which was liquidated last year. “Although a court order was issued in relation to ISH, there is currently a pending request in the Labor Court for the suspension of the court order that gave rise to this order.

“Innovative Staffing Solutions is a human capital and facilities management subcontractor permanently employing more than 36,000 employees in a variety of industries including mining, engineering, construction, retail, agriculture, and transportation and logistics. It does not operate temporary employment services or violate the law. Employees receive a variety of benefits including comprehensive medical benefits, a staff wellness plan, and contributions to the provident fund. These benefits far exceed those prescribed by the council, and in addition to a reduction in staff salaries, these benefits would also be suspended to comply with the council’s prescriptions should ISS be forced to comply with the council’s collective bargaining agreement. “.

In a written response to Moneyweb, NBCRFLI spokesman Fikile Mchunu said the council had resolved to defend the matter in court and had instructed its lawyers to do so.

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