In a case certain to intrigue everyone in SA’s formal work space, a major labour union recently found itself in an unusual role — as an employer in dispute with a union organiser who challenged an alleged unfair labour practice. Even the labour court could not resist pointing out the irony of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) being "taken to task by one of its own employees". Acting judge Sean Snyman called it a case of the "shoe being on the other foot". The question for the court, he said, was whether Numsa’s conduct towards the employee would "[pass] muster as being fair". The dispute concerned a car-purchase scheme the union offered its employees as a benefit — subject to certain conditions. When local Numsa organiser Mandla Skhosana ignored these conditions, despite receiving reminders, the union suspended access to his vehicle and fuel allowance. Skhosana claimed he had been unfairly treated and felt so strongly about it that he took his grievance to the Commiss...

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