In the case of Municipal and Allied Trade Workers Unions of South Africa v Central Karoo District Municipality and other- Labour Court, Cape Town, Case No: C671/18, the question of whether agency shop agreements apply to all trade unions that are represented in a company.

The trade union claimed that its members should not be required to pay an agency shop fee, which is applicable throughout the municipal sector, because they were subject to a “double deduction”. 

In addition, the Union argued that the introduction of section 21(8)(c) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA), which allows for the extension of certain organisational rights to minority unions even if their membership fall short of threshold agreements concluded under section 18. 

The Court found that free riders were free riders, regardless of whether they exercise their freedom of association to join minority unions without bargaining rights.  To accept the unions’ arguments would undermine the principle of majoritarianism on which the LRA was largely based. 

Without a challenge to the constitutionality of section 25, which the Union had abandoned, there was no basis for departing from earlier authority in which it had been held that agency shop agreements apply to the unions.

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Jonathan Goldberg is an expert at trade union negotiations. If you need assistance with any such negotiations in your company please feel free to contact him or anyone else in the Global Business Solutions team.