The Court of Appeal has set Tuesday, 26 April 2016 for hearing an appeal by BOFEPUSU and its affiliate trade unions against a judgment of the Industrial Court dismantling the Public Service Bargaining Council (“the PSBC”), and freezing salary negotiations for public service employees. CoA judge Isaac Lesetedi ordered on 29 March 2016 that the matter, which BOPEU lawyers opposed arguing that it was not properly before the appeals court, be heard as an expedited appeal. He rejected attorney Joseph Akoonyatse's (of BOPEU) reading of court rules-which he said the notice of an appeal at the CoA by BOFEPUSU suspends the judgment of the lower court in turn paving the way for the original status quo.
Akoonyatse contradicted himself when he suggested that the parties could go for mediation (as ordered by the Industrial court)despite that he had earlier argued that the same judgment was declared invalid by the appeal. The attorney was at a loss when asked by judge Lesetedi to demonstrate the prejudice that would be suffered by his client and their members. Under pressure, he reluctantly conceded that the over 107 000 public service employees will suffer prejudice if the case is not resolved soon to allow for the 2016/17 salary and conditions nof service negotiations to start. BOFEPUSU said BOPEU's attempt to have the matter follow the normal route goes a long way to show how the latter are eager to ensure that the state at the PSBC remains chaotic resulting in extended delay in the functionality of the PSBC including concluding on the 2016/17 salary negotiations for the Public Service.
Cape Town based Advocate Alec Freund had pleaded with court to hear the matter on urgency saying the dispute between the parties would remain unresolved for months, or possibly years if heard under the normal process. He said that would not augur well for the welfare and moral of the entire public service which comprises over 107, 000 employees. "We are highly pleased that the Court of Appeal, which is the highest court on the land, was convinced by our lawyers that there exist exceptional circumstances which call for the appeal to be heard as an expedited appeal," Tobokani Rari, BOFEPUSU Secretary General.