FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - FAQ
What does PSCBC do?
The PSCBC is an independent forum where the employer (state) and the biggest unions in the Public Service meet to negotiate and sign collective agreements that regulate the terms and conditions of public servants. Certain types of disputes can also be referred to the PSCBC (see below).
What is meant by PSCBC staff and PSCBC parties to Council?
The PSCBC consists of permanent appointed staff (called the Secretariat) who is led by the General Secretary to Council. (The General Secretary to Council has the same function as a CEO in a company). The PSCBC staff is responsible for the administrative functions and the scheduling of meetings (for collective bargaining) or the scheduling of hearings (for dispute resolution). The PSCBC parties to Council are the people who attend the meetings and who negotiate the collective agreements and make all Council decisions during these meetings. The parties to council are the employer (state) and the 8 biggest unions in the Public Service. The employer and a majority of the unions must be in favor of any decision or agreement concluded in the PSCBC, before it will be valid and binding on others.
Is the PSCBC a sub-structure of Government?
No. PSCBC, as well as the Sector Councils designated by the PSCBC (i.e. SSSBC, ELRC, PHSDSBC, GPSSBC) is independent forums and are not government structures. The parties to Council consist of 50% government representatives and 50% union representatives and the PSCBC endeavors to be impartial, independent and unbiased at all times.
Does PSCBC have provincial offices?
No. PSCBC has Provincial Chambers where the parties negotiate on various issues of mutual interest that affects that particular province, but these Chambers do not have permanent staff. All meetings and dispute hearings are dealt with and scheduled by the PSCBC secretariat from the PSCBC national office.
Some documents use the word “collective agreement” and some documents talk about “resolutions”. What is the difference between a “collective agreement” and a “resolution”?
In the context of the Public Service Bargaining Councils’ environment, the words are used as synonyms. Collective Agreements signed in the PSCBC are documented and referred to as “Resolutions of Council”.
Who must I contact if I have a labour related problem?
If you are a union member, the best option is to first discuss the problem with your union representative who will advise you of the best route to follow. Your union representative will assist you throughout whatever process you decide to follow. Your HR and/or Labour Relations sections in government departments will also be able to assist in providing information on labour related matters. For information on dispute procedures you may contact the PSCBC or relevant Sector Council.
May I ask PSCBC or the Sector Bargaining Councils for advice?
The PSCBC and Sector Councils are and must remain impartial, independent and unbiased. For this reason the Bargaining Councils cannot give advise to either the employer or the employee. The Bargaining Council will however provide any relevant procedural information or documentation that may assist the parties to decide how they want to deal with the dispute.
Where must I refer my dispute to?
The issue in dispute and your place of work will mainly determine to what forum you must refer your dispute. Some cases MUST be referred to the CCMA. Section 51 of the Labour Relations Act and the footnotes in that section give a helpful breakdown as to what type of disputes must be referred to the CCMA and what must go to Bargaining Councils. Discrimination disputes must for instance be referred to the CCMA, while unfair dismissal and unfair labour practice disputes must be referred to the relevant Bargaining Council. (Also see next question below)
There are five (5) Bargaining Councils in the Public Service. How do I know to which one must I refer my dispute to?
The issue in dispute and your place of work will mainly determine to which Bargaining Council you must refer your dispute. In short: if the dispute is about an unfair labour practice (i.e. promotion, demotion, benefits, disciplinary action, probation, whistle-blowing or if you were not re-employed as per a previous agreement) or if the dispute is about an unfair dismissal, you must refer it to a Sector Council. If the dispute is about the interpretation or application of a PSCBC collective agreement (resolution), it must be referred to the PSCBC.
- The SSSBC (Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council) deals with disputes of South African Police Service employees.
- The ELRC (Education Labour Relations Council) deals with disputes of employees appointed in terms of the Educators Act.
- The PHSDSBC (Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council) deals with disputes of employees who are employed by the Department of Health and Department of Social Development, as well as employees in other Departments who are in health professions (e.g. doctors, nurses etc).
- The GPSSBC (General Public Service Sectoral Bargaining Council) deals with disputes of public service employees who do not fall within the scope of the other Sector Bargaining Councils above.
- The PSCBC (Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council) deals with disputes of all Public Service employees. If the dispute is about the interpretation or application of a PSCBC Resolution, or if the dispute is about an issue that affects more than 1 sector, PSCBC may not deal with a dispute if there is a Sector Bargaining Council that has jurisdiction.
How do I refer a dispute?
Every Bargaining Council has its own referral form and specific procedure to refer a dispute. To refer a dispute to the PSCBC you need to:
- Complete the “application for conciliation form”
- Send a copy of the form to:
a) the employer (relevant person at the Department where you work); AND
b) the chief negotiator of the State (DPSA offices)
- Send the form to the PSCBC offices WITH the proof that the form was send / given to the employer and the Chief Negotiator of the State (e.g. attach the fax transmission slips to the referral form)
Where can I get information on collective agreements?
All PSCBC collective agreements can be found on this website under the menu items Search Agreements or under Search Documents. If additional information on collective agreements is required, please contact the PSCBC Collective Bargaining Department.
An agency fee is deducted from my salary every month. What is an agency fee and where does that money go to?
The principle of an agency fee is supported by the Labour Relations Act. The agency shop agreement requires the employer to deduct a fee from the wages of non-union workers to ensure that the non-union workers, who benefit from the union’s bargaining efforts, make a contribution towards those efforts. In terms of PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2005 (which amended Resolution 1 of 1998), all agency fees that are deducted from non-union members salaries are paid to the PSCBC. The PSCBC then distribute the money to the unions who are parties to Council in accordance with their determined vote weights. The unions are then required to use the funds for any expenditure that advances or protects the socio-economic interests of employees.