The ongoing Corona Virus has caused a complete somersault of the way we live and interact. The courts and how they handle cases have not been spared by the upheaval caused by the Coronavirus. The economy has been battered by the closure of businesses, and this has led to job losses on a grand scale.
The Labour Court in Johannesburg has ruled, in the case between the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) and South African Breweries (SAB) that retrenchment consultations can take place over “Zoom” and other video conferencing facilities. In as much as consulting in this manner is not the ideal way to deal with a retrenchment, owing to the sensitivity of retrenchments, the Labour Court was mindful that businesses must keep operating and conduct retrenchments if the viability of businesses are at risk.
FAWU had rejected the opportunity to use “Zoom” to conduct the retrenchment consultations and therefore waived their right to be consulted about the ongoing retrenchments. The ruling serves to remind unions and employers that the fourth industrial revolution is inevitable. There is no escaping the fact that technology can be utilised in instances where physical interactions are impossible. On a positive note for employers’ retrenchment consultations which are often met with undue delays can proceed with consultation on video conferencing facilities.
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