Dispute over court president’s ‘bias’

The president of the industrial court hearing an application for the reinstatement of 1 000 sacked Sarmcol workers has refused an application that he withdraw from the case.

Lawyers acting for the Metal and Allied Workers Union and the dismissed workers cited Pierre Roux’s participation in a labour relations seminar organised by Andrew Levy and Associates – the labour relations consultancy which advised Sarmcol.

“This could indicate a bias to the reasonable lay observer,” advocate Martin Brassey mid the IC yesterday. Brassey noted the seminar, held in Johannesburg on May 2 was also addressed by Sarmcol’s legal team.

In refusing the application, Roux said it was part of the work of the Bench to attend conferences of the kind organised by Levy. 

Paul Benjamin, senior researcher at Wits University’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies, said it was reasonable for members of the industrial court to talk from public platforms.

However, “the fact that a member of the court gave an address to a group of consultants deeply involved in the same major and ongoing case as the president appears to have been perceived by the union in a certain way.” 

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail newspaper

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