Zoom can be used to negotiate retrenchments in SA

The Johannesburg Labour Court has ruled that retrenchment negotiations can take place over Zoom or similar video conferencing facilities.

This was in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the “new normal”, judge Graham Moshoana said in a judgment handed down in an urgent application brought by the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) against South African Breweries (SAB).

The union claimed the ongoing Section 189A consultation process, which began in January this year with face-to-face talks and continued using Zoom during the lockdown, was procedurally unfair.

The union decided not to participate in finalisation of the process, which resulted in a final organogram being drafted and termination notices being issued to affected employees.

The union raised several issues, but Moshoana said the Zoom issue was the one that “broke the camel’s back”.

He also referred to as “irony” the fact that the union’s application to the court was done via video conferencing.

“With the new normal, Zoom is an appropriate form of meetings taking place. It is a necessary tool to ensure restrictions, like social distancing, as a measure to avoid the spread of the virus are observed.

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