In order to be represented in a workplace of a particular company, the majority of employees need to belong to a union. This takes into account the employees across the entire company and not just at specific branches.

In Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union / Steinhoff Doors and Building Material t/a Steinbuild – (2019) 28 CCMA 4.7.1 also reported at [2019] 1 BALR 90 (CCMA), this rule was challenged.

The union sought organisational rights at one of the Company’s stores, where it enjoyed a majority. The Company argued that its operation consisted of four divisions, all of which were centrally managed. There were 20 unions currently operating within the business. Only the two largest unions enjoyed access and organisational rights.

The CCMA Commissioner rejected the union’s submission that each of the Company’s stores constituted separate workplaces. The evidence presented was that all stores were centrally managed. The Company further argued that each division should be regarded as the workplace for the purposes of a claim for organisational rights.

Collective bargaining for each store took place centrally. Only the two largest unions were involved in these negotiations. Although unions had already proliferated for historical reasons, it was reasonable to stop this practice going forward.

The Commissioner ruled that the union was not entitled to any organisational rights besides stop orders deductions.

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