Demotions and dismissals – they are not the same

(Moapese and others v HOD, Northern Cape Department of Education)

A reduction in salary does not constitute a dismissal, at best, it’s a demotion – according to the Education Relations Labour Council.

What happened was this: In 2007 the salaries of a group of employees were raised by a grade. In 2012, the new MEC ‘reversed’ the increase, as it had been, in his opinion, incorrectly escalated. As a result, the Employer reduced the salaries of the employees which administratively, manifested itself as a termination of employment on the C grade, to a re-appointment on the D grade. This ‘administrative termination’ coupled with the reduction, the employees contended, was a dismissal. The Commissioner indicated that in order for a dismissal to have occurred that the employees concerned would have had to have to ceased working. As the employees were still very much employed by the employer – albeit on a lower salary – no dismissal had occurred. In such circumstances the proper remedy sought from the CCMA or Bargaining Council would have been to have raised an unfair labour practice, alternatively, the employees could have gone on strike.

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