Can shop stewards sign an agreement concluded with an employer and thereby bind the union as a whole?

This interesting question arose in a recent CCMA arbitration award, and the CCMA commissioner held that the agreement was indeed valid the employer had not raised the issue of the shop stewards’ authority of the time and the owner of the business had been only too happy to sign the agreement. It was hardly possible for the employer to argue now that there was no agreement it was sheer opportunism on the part of the employer, trying to escape the provisions of a collective agreement it had concluded. The employer was prevented from relying on the ground that the shop stewards did not have the necessary authority.


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