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How Pioneer foods won an 'equal pay for work of equal value' court case against their employees

by , 04 July 2016
How Pioneer foods won an 'equal pay for work of equal value' court case against their employeesThe EE Act says you're unfairly discriminating if your employees earn different pay, when they do work of equal value.

So some employees took Pioneer Foods (Pty) Ltd to Court, because they weren't getting paid equally, when they were doing the same jobs. The employees claimed this was unfair discrimination under the EE Act (EEA).

But Pioneer Foods was able to prove that the discrimination was actually fair according to regulation 7 of the EEA.

And they won their case against the employees. Read on to find out how you can justify differences in pay like Pioneer Foods.

Pioneer Foods (Pty) Ltd v Workers Against Regression (WAR) and Others. What were the facts of the case?

In 2013 and 2015, Pioneer Food's long serving employees complained to their majority union FAWU, that new employees were getting paid the same as them.
So FAWU entered into a collective agreement with Pioneer Foods that all new employees from outside the company would be paid at a rate of 80% of the current remuneration for two years. This was to show differentiation and appreciation for long serving employees.
But some of the new employees weren't happy about only getting 80%. They'd previously been working for Pioneer Foods under the services of a labour broker, before they were made permanent. So they knew the pay rates. They complained to their union WAR. And WAR took Pioneer Foods to Labour Court on their behalf.
Read on to find out the courts findings…

Here's one justification Pioneer Foods used to win their case

One of the seven arguments Pioneer Foods put forward is they paid different salaries because there were differences in employees' seniority and length of service.

The Court agreed! It said paying newer employees at a lower rate for a two year period isn't unfair discrimination. In fact, it's a fair and rational justification for wage discrimination under The Code of Good Practice on Equal Pay/Remuneration for Work of Equal Value.
It was obvious WAR didn't understand what unfair discrimination was when it came to equal pay for work of equal value. So the Court went on to explain all the provisions in the law about this.

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