Sipelelo Lityi and Stephanie Goncalves
In G4S Cash Solutions SA (Pty) Ltd v Motor Transport Workers Union and Others (JA51/15)  ZALCJHB 2016 (26 May 2016), the employer required its employees to work on Sundays and on public holidays. The employees refused to work on Sundays and public holidays because they were not given an increase in remuneration for work on those days.
On appeal, the employer argued that the employees’ refusal to work on Sundays and public holidays fell within the definition of a strike in the Labour Relations Act (Act 66 of 1995). In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (Act 75 of 1997) an employer may not require an employee to work on a public holiday unless a written agreement exists.
The Labour Appeal Court considered whether the employees had a contractual obligation to work on Sundays and on public holidays.
The Court held that although the contracts of employment provided for overtime, it did not mean that the employees were obliged to work on Sundays or on public holidays. It held that there was no obligation on the employees to work every Sunday and therefore the employer could not require employees to do so. The employees’ refusal to work on Sundays did not constitute a strike and did not fall within the definition of strike.
The effect of the judgment is that the refusal by employees to work in response to an employer’s request that does not contractually arise will not amount to a strike. The essence of the case is that employers that require their employees to undertake work on Sundays or on public holidays must contractually agree on the terms.
Source: Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr