The BCFFRCAT has grabbed a bite to eat out of the food industry.  On the 08th of January 2021, the Minister of Employment & Labour extended the main agreement of the Bargaining Council for the Fast Food, Restaurant, Catering & Allied Trades (BCFFRCAT) to non-parties in the industry.  This was done under Government Gazette 44058 and made a meal out of an already starving industry.

The effect of this agreement is that the remaining areas in South Africa fall under the scope of the BCFFRCAT.  This Council now establishes higher minimum wages and benefits and improved working conditions for employees engaged in the industry for the rest of South Africa, similar to those of the Bargaining Council for Restaurant Catering and Allied Trades (BCRCAT), that covers Johannesburg and its surrounding areas and the Bargaining Council for the Food Retail, Restaurant, Catering & Allied Trades (BCFOOD) that covers Pretoria and its surrounding areas.  The BCFFRCAT now extends beyond these areas to the following areas:

  • The Province of Western Cape;
  • The Province of Eastern Cape;
  • The Province of Northern Cape;
  • The Province of Free State;
  • The Province of Kwazulu Natal;
  • The Province of North West, excluding the Magisterial Districts of Brits and Rustenburg;
  • The Province of Mpumalanga, excluding Magisterial Districts of Witbank;
  • The Limpopo Province, excluding the Magisterial District of Warmbaths and the Magisterial Districts of Heidelberg, Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark, Oberholzer, Meyerton and Carletonville.

It is clear from the above that the extension covers most of the country and, without much transparent logic or reasoning, there are only a few specific magisterial districts excluded.  It is important to note that the extension indicates that the terms of this agreement will be binding on all employers and employees in the industry from today Monday, the 18th of January 2021.  To date of the drafting of this article, we are unaware of any extension that has been granted to the industry.

The extension of the BCFFRCAT has been met with extreme astonishment by labour specialists, employers, and advisors alike for several reasons, i.e.:

  • Firstly, the invitation to make representations on the extension was published by the Minister in the Gazette on the 8th of June 2018 (No. 573).  After thorough research, it is unclear as to what transpired in the 31 months between this gazette date and the actual extension dated the 8th of January 2021, however;
  • Secondly, it seems that no Gazette was published setting out, and so providing feedback on representations made during the initial process;
  • The only further Gazette to our knowledge, requesting representations, was published on the 13th of November 2020 calling for representations on the EXTENSION OF PERIOD OF OPERATION OF THE MAIN COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT with no further indication on the extension to non-parties (No. 1221).

Albeit that the above might be indicative of a complete lack of transparency and rationale, the largest concern is that the extension of this Bargaining Council places various “extra” and additional obligations on an already crippled industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ongoing regulations, together with the continued alcohol ban has caused many employers within the industry to close shop and with that, leaving their previously well establish livelihoods and the livelihoods of their staff in shambles.

After several conversations with members of CEO that fall within the scope of this Bargaining Council, we are yet to hear the following: “This is exactly what my struggling, barely making ends meet business needs now…. more obligations.” For our affected members, it is evident that the extension of this bargaining council is met with much apprehension and negativity exacerbated by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This, in turn, will most likely lead to non-compliance and civil disobedience to an unsustainable industry model.

Whilst we are mindful of the fact that there are various opinions on this matter, one cannot refrain from wondering what the driving force was behind the extension to non-parties, especially in a time where the economic climate is in dire need of change.  The only rationale that may be deduced is the mouthwatering pension-, provident- and medical aid fund contributions that are looming.

It is clear that extension will also affect not only the monthly expenses of the employers but also the monthly income of employees in the industry.  Unfortunately, the motive of both unions and employers organisations who are parties to this Council is unclear. One can only hope that it is noble and to the benefit of the crippled industry.

Whilst it is clear that the representations were requested on the 8th of June 2018, a time in which words like COVID-19, pandemic, lockdown and curfew did not even exist in our vocabulary the world in totality was a completely different place.  We had to adapt to the “new normal” and had to change the way in which we function and should think of centralised bargaining.  The crippling industry had to fight for survival, and which begs the question where the consideration in the extension of the BCFFRCAT Main Agreement to non-parties was?  This especially as this main agreement merely sets out more obligations, with no service delivery mechanism for employers of any kind, in a time where the industry needs a relaxation of legislation.

Nevertheless, the extension of this agreement to non-parties is the reality and is now expected to form part of the already surreal new normal until the 31st of August 2026, if left unchallenged.  As any seasoned restaurant owner knows, the failure of a dish does not signal the end of service, we will need to adapt, review and if need be, go back to the kitchen.

The full agreement can be viewed here.

We advise our affected members that this extended main agreement of the BCFFRCAT is indeed promulgated legislation which is to be complied with.  For our affected members, we encourage you to contact your nearest CEO office and/or labour consultants for advice herein.  For non-members reading this article, we at CEO continuously strive to be the voice for Employers, and we would invite you to contact our offices.  The larger the CEO footprint becomes, the more likely we will be able to influence these types of discussions and outcomes in future.

As CEO is already party to various large Bargaining Councils where we have an entire department dedicated to protecting employers within those Bargaining Council scopes and in doing so giving effect to the true meaning of centralised bargaining, we are confident that we will acquire a seat at the table of this Council soon.

The following are important sections to note in the BCFFRCAT Main Agreement:

Section 2(A)        –              Prohibition of further negotiation
Section 3             –              Industrial Action
Section 5             –              Wages & Exemption
Section 19           –              Registration of Employers and Employees
Section 20           –              Payment of Contributions to Benefit Funds
Section 21           –              Income & Expenses of the Council
Section 21A        –              Default Payments
Section 21B        –              Funeral Benefits
Section 21C        –              Provident Fund
Section 28           –              Dispute Resolution Functions of the Council
Section 29           –              EXEMPTIONS

It is extremely important to note that in accordance with the Gazette, the terms of the BCFFRCAT Main Agreement will be binding on all employers and employees in the industry from today, the 18th of January 2021, which is the date of publication of this article.  Failure to comply will in all likelihood result in “backpay” if and when a designated agent does his/her inspection and identifies non-compliance, which will have devastating financial implications on employers.

We must thus strongly advise that employers in the industry, contact our offices and/or the offices of their labour consultants if they need any further information.  The exemption process is contained in the BCFFRCAT Main Agreement, and the attached document can be used as a basis of the application.

It cannot be stressed enough that the mere completion of this document will not be sufficient to succeed with an exemption application.  Proper motivation and supplementary documentation will be required.

Applications for the exemption of certain terms and conditions may be the most effective and legal manner in the event that affected employers cannot afford and comply with this agreement.  Please note that it should be avoided as far as possible to apply for an exemption herein retrospectively as such an application’s prospects of success are significantly lower than an application going forward.  Therefore, in the event that an affected employer wishes to apply for exemption, this should be done before obligations, among other, wage hikes, benefits and working conditions become due (i.e. provident fund, council levies, funeral fund contributions).  Employers will thusly need to strike whilst the iron is hot.

Queries / CEO Membership: For any queries of existing members, or enquiries on how to become a CEO member, please contact our head office at (012) 880 0294 or e-mail us at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CEO.


Article by: Jaundré Kruger

Provincial Manager – Bloemfontein