Bulls discards taking union to court
EXCLUSIVE: The cash-strapped Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd has been dragged to court in a labour dispute.
The court action is the latest development in the ongoing saga between the BBC and five retrenched staff members.
After successfully securing the prized signature of former All Black coach John Mitchell, as Executive for Rugby, the BBC announced late in the year (2017) that they were going to retrench some staff because of financial restraints.
Tim Dlulane (team manager), Pine Pienaar (defence coach), Nqubeko Zulu (Under-21 team manager), Dewey Swartbooi and Denzil Frans (both coaches of the Under-19 team) were the five to be retrenched.
This caused a major outcry and claims that the BBC was guilty of stymying - a claim dismissed by the company.
The five decided to take the legal route.
There was a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration hearing in Pretoria last Friday.
After the conclusion of presentations from both sides, the Bulls presented the five with an improved 'retrenchment settlement' package.
However, this offer was not acceptable to the retrenched officials and they decided to take their case to the labour court.
Piet Heymans, spokesperson and Chief Executive of the trade union Sports Employers Unite, said they are ready for the protracted legal battle to ensure the officials are sufficiently rewarded.
"Unfortunately it [the court proceedings] will obviously take a while," Heymans told rugby365.
"The issue was unresolved at the arbitration hearing and we have the right to go to the labour court."
Heymans suggested that this will be an important 'test case'.
"You are dealing with fixed-term contract employees who are being retrenched," he said.
"There is a reference to operational requirements.
"However, we are of the opinion that it should be tested. There are lots of restrictions on them while they are being employed [by the Bulls].
"It will be a very interesting case.
"What we feel very strongly about is the process [used by the BBC].
"We are of the opinion that these five employees were targeted and that the selection criteria [for determining who is retrenched] are vague and unreasonable. [* See picture below]
"They [the BBC] will have to explain themselves in court."
Apart from having employed a high-profile coach like Mitchell - who certainly doesn't come cheap - and then retrenching five staff members, there have also been questions about the salary increases of other staff members such as Xander Janse Van Rensburg, the union's high-performance manager.
By Jan de Koning