Arguments in the Wage Curve dispute were concluded in the Labour Appeal court yesterday. The matter was heard before a full bench (three Judges) which included the Judge President of the Labour Appeal Court. The Judges who heard the matter are as follows:
- Deputy Judge President Basheer Wagley;
- Judge Hendrick Musi; and
- Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng.
The courts normally convene a full bench only when the case before them is exceptionally difficult or where important matters of law are considered. The fact that yesterday’s matter was heard by a full bench, (including the Deputy Judge President), means that the Labour Appeal Court considered the matter to be of such public importance as to warrant high level attention.
SALGA argued that the Judge of the Labour Court came to the wrong decision as she didnot assess the evidence correctly and did not apply the law correctly. IMATU, in turn, argued that the Labour Court Judge’s decision was correct and that the salary scales must be increased by 8.48% with effect from July 2010.
At the conclusion of the arguments, the Judges indicated that “judgement is reserved” which means that a judgement will be given at a later date. This is not unusual. Appeal Court Judges rarely, if ever, give judgements on the same day that the case is heard. The Judges will now have to go through the mountains of documentary evidence that was presented by both parties, including the record of the Labour Court trial (which runs into several hundred pages), consider the arguments of both parties and write the judgement. This written judgement will be a summary of the evidence and arguments as well as the reasons for their decision. There is no legal time limit in which such a written judgement will be handed down, but given the amount of work the Judges still have to do, it can be several months before a judgement can be expected. The Labour Appeal Court normally goes into recess around October each year, during which time judgments are written. It is IMATU’s estimation that the judgment can be expected towards the end of the year in December 2013 or early in 2014. However, this is onl y an estimate; if there is a backlog of appeal matters which was heard before the Wage Curve matter, or if the matter is very complex, it may take even longer.
The Appeal Court has the power to either uphold or set aside the judgment of the Labour Court. However, litigation can be a very uncertain process and it would be difficult to speculate on which way the Judges’ decision will go. At this stage, we can only confirm that we presented the best possible case to the court.
IMATU has also done everything in our power to have the matter dealt with as soon as possible, including getting the earliest possible court date. The matter is however now in the hands of the court and all parties must wait for a judgment.
Members will be kept informed as the matter progresses.