A collective agreement between the Chamber of Mines and the majority trade unions in the gold mining sector is also binding on members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)‚ even though the union had majority representation only at certain individual mines.

The crucial issue argued before the Constitutional Court on Tuesday was whether a "workplace" in the statutory provision referred to each individual mining operation or all the mining operations of each mining company‚ taken together.

If each individual mine was a "workplace" under the statute‚ then Amcu had majority representation and would not be bound by the agreement.

But if the workplace was each mining organisation as a whole‚ with individual mines included‚ then Amcu was a minority union and was bound by the terms of the agreement‚ one of which prohibited striking while the agreement was in force.

The Constitutional Court held that the agreement was validly extended to Amcu members at the five Amcu-majority mines‚ and that the relevant statutory provisions were constitutionally compliant. The appeal was dismissed with no order as to costs

The ruling relates to the decision by the Labour Court on June 23 2014 to uphold the interim order issued on an urgent basis by the Labour Court in January 2014.

The order prevented Amcu from embarking on protected strike action over wages and other conditions of service on the basis that Amcu was bound by the collective agreement reached for the period July 1 2013 to June 30 2015.

At the time the agreement was reached‚ Amcu represented 17% of employees in the sector.

The agreement was extended by AngloGold Ashanti‚ Harmony and Sibanye to Amcu and its members in terms of the Labour Relations Act.

The Chamber of Mines‚ acting on behalf of gold producers AngloGold Ashanti‚ Harmony and Sibanye‚ welcomed the ruling.

Spokesperson Elize Strydom said in a statement: "This ruling brings final certainty about the binding nature of the extended 2013 wage agreement reached at a centralised level by way of an inclusive process."

TMG Digital

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