No justifiable reason for revoking Johan Crouse's duties - PSA

Association says Registrar of Labour Relations punished for seeking to place CEPPWAWU under administration

PSA to take Labour Court action following revocation of duties of Registrar of Labour Relations

24 July 2015

The Public Servants Association (PSA), the representative trade union of some 234 000 public sector employees, has condemned the action of the Minister of Labour to revoke the duties of the Registrar of Labour Relations as an attack on acceptable norms in labour relations and democracy (see BDLive report).

The PSA, acting on behalf of its member, the Registrar of Labour Relations, Mr Johan Crouse, stepped in after Mr Crouse on 10 July 2015 received a letter from the Director-General of Labour, indicating that he had ignored instructions from the Minister to suspend a Labour Court application to put the Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) under administration in terms of the provisions of section 103(1)(c) of the Labour Relations Act, 1995. According to the Minister, Mr Couse had failed to avail himself to the Minister and also did not suspend the Labour Court application.

“The instruction to revoke Mr Crouse’s duties and appoint a candidate to act in his post, citing reasons such as gross insubordination, were given without any justifiable reason other than clear political interference in what is supposed to be an impartial role. The statement that he did not avail himself is inaccurate, as Mr Crouse has evidence where he indicated his availability for the meeting. This was clarified with the Department, but seemingly ignored,” said PSA General Manager, Danny Adonis.

“Mr Crouse was appointed as the Registrar of Labour Relations in terms of the LRA in January 2004. He was found to be fit for the post based on the outcome of the Departments’ recruitment and selection process. This was not a deployment of which duties can be revoked but an appointment subject to the LRA and fair labour practices,” said Adonis.

Mr Crouse made it clear that the intention of the application to appoint an Administrator was a rescue attempt in favour of CEPPWAWU and not an attack or a limitation on the Union’s right to function. This would have protected the interests of members of the Union and ensured that the alleged mismanagement of resources does not continue.

“The PSA views the Minister’s action as an attack on both the employment of our member and on the rights of workers, which were paid for in blood since the dawn of democracy. It is even more distressing that such actions are taken by the custodians tasked with the protection of workers’ rights. The independence of the Registrar is under attack, the principles of the LRA are under attack, and even democracy itself is under attack when political decisions blur administrative functions and roles,” said Adonis.

“The PSA will, in addition to defending our member against this violation, also do so on behalf of all workers and stakeholders in this sector. The PSA is approaching the Labour Court for a remedy and will explore all other avenues to resolve this matter with the urgency it deserves,” said Adonis.

Statement issued by Danny Adonis, Public Servants Association, July 24 2015