Public employment and the relationship between labour and administrative law

Loots, Barbara Evelyn (2011-03)

Thesis (LLD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The focus of this study is the rights-based normative overlap of labour and administrative law in public employment. As the judiciary appeared to be unable to agree on a unified approach to the application of the rights to fair labour practices and just administrative action to public employment, it was clear that the complexity and multi-dimensional character of the debate required analysis of existing approaches to the regulation of the public employment relationship. The following initial research question was formulated: To what extent does (and should) the constitutionalised rights to fair labour practices (s 23) and just administrative action (s 33) simultaneously find application in the regulation of public employment relationships? In answering this question, certain realities had to be acknowledged, the most important being that the debate in question jurisprudentially revealed itself to be a jurisdictional turf-war between the Labour and High Courts, rather than proper consideration of the relevant substantive arguments and underlying normative considerations. This called for an additional dimension to be added to the research question, namely consideration of the extent to which the ss 23 and 33 rights are informed by variable and possibly different normative principles and whether these rights allow for cooperative regulation of public employment in accordance with the doctrine of interdependent fundamental rights. This became the primary focus of the study. In an attempt to simplify the debate, a deliberate decision was taken to limit the scope of the normative study to South Africa with its own historic influences, structures and constitutional considerations. The study shows that both labour and administrative law (as constitutionally informed) share concern for equity-based principles. This is evident from the flexible contextually informed perspectives of administrative law reasonableness in relation to labour law substantive fairness, as well as a shared concern for and approach to procedural fairness. Once simplified, and in the absence of any undue positive law complexity, the public employment relationship, at both a normative and theoretical level, furthermore shows no substantive status difference with private employment relationships. It is, however, accepted that there are job and sector-specific contextual differences. In the absence of substantive normative conflict between these branches of law and in the absence of a fundamental (as opposed to contextual) difference between public and private employment, there appears to be no reason to ignore the constitutional jurisprudential calls for hybridity, otherwise termed the doctrine of interdependence. The idea of normatively interdependent rights expresses the Constitution’s transformative vision (through the idea of flexible conceptual contextualism) and recognises that human rights may overlap. This also means that where such overlap exists, rights should be interpreted and applied in a mutually supportive and cooperative manner that allows for the full protection and promotion of those rights. In giving expression to the interdependent normative framework of constitutional rights, these norms (absent any substantive rights-based conflict) should then be used by the judiciary as an interpretative tool to align specific labour law and general administrative law in the regulation of public employment relationships.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die fokus van hierdie studie is die regsgebaseerde normatiewe oorvleueling van arbeids- en administratiefreg in die openbare diensverhouding. Aangesien dit blyk dat die regsbank nie kon saamstem oor ‘n eenvormige benadering tot die toepassing van die regte op billike arbeidspraktyke en regverdige administratiewe optrede op die openbare diensverhouding nie, het die kompleksiteit en multi-dimensionele karakter van die debat dit genoodsaak om bestaande benaderings tot die regulering van die openbare diensverhouding te analiseer. In die lig hiervan is die volgende aanvanklike navorsingsvraag geformuleer: Tot watter mate vind die grondwetlik neergelegde regte tot billike arbeidspraktyke (a 23) en regmatige administratiewe optrede (a 33) gelykmatig toepassing in die regulering van die openbare diensverhouding en tot watter mate hoort die regte gelykmatig toepassing te vind? In antwoord op die vraag is sekere realiteite geïdentifiseer, waarvan die belangrikste is dat die debat in die regspraak grootliks neergekom het op ‘n jurisdiksionele magstryd tussen die Arbeids- en Hooggeregshowe, eerder as werklike oorweging van die relevante substantiewe argumente en onderliggende normatiewe oorwegings. Dit het die byvoeging van ’n verdere dimensie tot die navorsingsvraag genoodsaak, naamlik oorweging van die mate waartoe die aa 23 en 33 regte deur buigsame en moontlik verskillende normatiewe beginsels beïnvloed word, en ook of hierdie regte ruimte laat vir mederegulering van die openbare diensverhouding in terme van die leerstuk van interafhanklikheid van fundamentele regte? Laasgenoemde het die primêre fokus van die studie geword. In ‘n poging om die debat te vereenvoudig, is doelbewus besluit om die strekking van die normatiewe studie te beperk tot Suid-Afrika, met eiesoortige historiese invloede, strukture en grondwetlike oorwegings. Soos die normatiewe studie ontvou het, wys die studie dat beide arbeids- en administratiefreg (soos grondwetlik beïnvloed) ‘n gemeenskaplike belang in billikheids-gebaseerde beginsels openbaar. Daar is ‘n versoenbaarheid tussen die kontekstueel beïnvloedbare en buigsame redelikheidsperspetief van die administratiefreg, soos gesien in vergelyking met substantiewe billikheid in die arbeidsreg. Voorts heg beide die arbeids- en administratiefreg ‘n gemeenskaplike waarde aan, en volg beide ‘n gemeenskaplike benadering tot, prosedurele billikheid. Terselfdertyd, en in die afwesigheid van onnodige positiefregtelike kompleksiteit, blyk daar op beide ‘n normatiewe en teoretiese vlak geen substantiewe verskil in status tussen die openbare diensverhouding en die privaat diensverhouding te wees nie. Dit word egter aanvaar dat daar wel werk- en sektor-spesifieke kontekstuele verskille bestaan. In die afwesigheid van substantiewe normatiewe konflik tussen die twee vertakkinge van die reg en in die afwesigheid van ‘n fundamentele (in vergelyking met kontekstuele) verskil tussen diensverhoudings in die openbare en privaatsektore, blyk daar geen rede te wees om die grondwetlike jurisprudensiële vereiste van hibriditeit, ook genoem die leerstuk van die interafhanklikheid van grondwetlike regte, te ignoreer nie. Die idee van normatiewe interafhanklike regte gee uitdrukking aan die Grondwet se visie van transformasie (via die idee van buigsame konsepsuele kontekstualisme) en erken dat menseregte soms oorvleuel. Dit beteken ook dat waar so ‘n oorvleueling bestaan, regte ïnterpreteer en toegepas moet word in ‘n wedersyds ondersteunende en samewerkende wyse wat voorsiening maak vir die volle beskerming en bevordering van daardie regte. Erkenning van die interafhanklike normatiewe raamwerk van grondwetlike regte hoort daartoe te lei dat die regsbank daardie norme (in die afwesigheid van regsgebaseerde konflik) as interpretasie-hulpmiddel gebruik om die spesifieke arbeidsreg met die algemene administratiefreg te versoen in die regulering van die openbare diensverhouding.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6683
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