In October 2019, COSATU registered a s77 application with NEDLAC in application to protest the economic crisis and specifically the resulting retrenchments across various sectors and industries in South Africa. The protest action was interdicted for a failure to comply with s77 of the LRA.
The latest COSATU application sets out the following demands, including the robust operationalisation of the jobs summit held in Q4 of 2018, a balancing of tax benefits afforded to private sector businesses with a prohibition on retrenchment and a requirement to create a certain number of jobs each year (to be monitored by the CCMA), a review of the National Development Plan, legally enforceable obligations on the private sector to create jobs and alleviate poverty and finally that statutory amendments be made that prevent retrenchments simply to improve on profits.
Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and other stakeholders will now collaborate to respond to these demands. There are already a number of initiatives and programmes under way to address unemployment, inequality and poverty as well as the economic crisis. Although collaboration and co-design will be crucial to the success of the engagements, it is crucial that the focus of the engagements remain on the socio-economic matters and the means to address these. Retrenchments and the like are matters that are consulted on under the LRA generally at company level and are based on the merits of each situation. Furthermore, a one-size-fits-all approach will not be appropriate in that different sectors and have different dynamics.
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