The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) represented 204 employees who were dismissed at the Pretoria Works industrial site in Pretoria West.
The premises were shared by a number of engineering companies which built part of the power plants. These included Steinmuller Africa (Pty) Ltd, Intervalve (Pty) Ltd and BHR Piping Systems (Pty) Ltd.
Numsa, on behalf of the dismissed employees, referred an unfair dismissal dispute to the bargaining council.
However, the union only cited Steinmuller at the conciliation meeting.
Steinmuller argued that it did not employ all of the dismissed employees.
Numsa referred the dispute to the bargaining council for a second time, this time citing all three companies.
The metalworkers union filed a statement of claim with the Labour Court based on the first referral, and only seven months later applied to join the other two companies.
The court granted Numsa’s application and permitted the joinder of the additional companies.
The court had found that the three companies overlapped in significant ways.
It found that the failure to refer the other two companies to the bargaining council was not fatal and it had the discretion to join the additional employers.
However, the Labour Appeal Court disagreed and overturned the decision.
The appeal court found that Numsa had not complied with the section 191 of the Labour Relations Act.
Numsa then approached the Constitutional Court in a bid to have it uphold its appeal and overturn the judgment of the Labour Appeal Court.