The enforcement of arbitration awards

In the case of Mlaudzi v Metro South Towing CC (J1007/15) [2017] ZALCJHB 37 (8 February 2017), an employee brought a dual application to the Labour Court. The first part of the application was brought in terms of s158(1)(c) of the Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995, as amended (the LRA) and the second part of the application in terms of s77(3) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, No 75 of 1997 (the BCEA).

6 Mar 2017 2 min read Employment Article

Factual Background

This application was brought after the Dispute Resolution Centre for the Motor Industry Bargaining Council finalised an arbitration hearing between the employee and the employer, where the Commissioner ruled that the dismissal of the employee was procedurally and substantively unfair. The Commissioner ordered that the employee must be reinstated and that the employer must pay the employee an amount of R15,600.

The employer failed to comply with the terms of the arbitration award, whereafter the employee brought the abovementioned dual application before the Labour Court. The Labour Court dealt with the two parts of the application separately:

Section 158(1)(c) Application

The Labour Court held that if an arbitration award is certified by a director of the CCMA in terms of s143 of the LRA, then it becomes unnecessary to approach the Labour Court in terms of s158(1)(c) of the LRA. Instead, the aggrieved party can enforce the certified arbitration award directly in terms of s143(4) of the LRA by way of contempt proceedings in the Labour Court. This is also in line with the judgement of the Labour Court in the SATAWU obo Phakathi v Ghekko Services SA (Pty) Ltd and Others (2011) 32 ILJ 1728 (LC) case, where the Labour Court held that s158(1)(c) applications are not a prerequisite for contempt proceedings.

However, in the Mlaudzi case, the Labour Court also stated that a s158(1)(c) application cannot be dismissed based on the fact that the arbitration award was certified. In this specific case, the Labour Court ruled that the employee made out a proper case and therefore made the arbitration award an order of the Labour Court.

Section 77 of the BCEA

In the second part of the application, the employee sought an order from the Labour Court to direct his employer to pay him his outstanding salary. The Labour Court referred to the Coca-Cola Sabco (Pty) Ltd v Van Wyk [2015] 8 BLLR 774 (LAC) case, in which it was held that the effect of a reinstatement order is to revive the contract of employment.

Further, the Labour Court held in the Coca-Cola Sabco case that if the employee tendered his services between the date of the order and the implementation date, then the employee is entitled to his remuneration for that period.

Therefore, the Labour Court found that in the Mlaudzi case the employee did report for duty (as was required by the arbitration award) and that when he reported for duty he was not reinstated. The Labour Court thus ordered that the Respondent must pay the Applicant the remuneration the Applicant claimed.


This is a noteworthy judgment, because if the suggestion of the Labour Court in this case is applied in practice, it would contribute to the speedy resolution of employment disputes as envisaged by the LRA.

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