The Labour Appeal Court (LAC) found in the affirmative in the appeal between SBV Services (Pty) Ltd and National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistic Industry and 3 Others. In this case, SBV Services (Pty) Ltd (SBV) contended that neither its business nor its employees were engaged in "the transfer of goods for hire or reward by means of road transport in the Republic of South Africa…", therefore operating outside of the scope of the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistic Industry (Bargaining Council).
The Bargaining Council regulates the road freight and logistics industry in accordance with the negotiated binding agreements, which set the minimum applicable standards within its scope of operation. SBV describes itself as a cash service and solutions provider for central and commercial banks, in the commercial and retail environments. In its appeal, SBV maintained that the transportation of cash is an ancillary activity, as its main business is related to the provision of banking and financial services (as opposed to the transportation of cash). Moreover, SBV argued that the transportation of cash does not constitute the transportation of goods in terms of the Bargaining Council's definition of "goods". This lead to a debate on the interpretation of the word "goods".
SVB, in applying multiple dictionary definitions, relied on the ordinary grammatical meaning of the word "goods" as "the merchandise or commodities which can be traded and ordinarily excludes money, as money is a means of exchange and not a commodity to be traded and ordinarily excludes money."
Conversely, the Bargaining Council relied on the purposive approach, stating that in the context of its certificate of registration, "goods" must be given the widest possible meaning to include "cash". The LAC found that though there are numerous judgments which support each manner of interpretation, it is crucial to ascribe meaning to the word in accordance with the historical development of the context in order to determine the meaning of the word "goods" in context. This would ensure that the meaning of the word would be neither wide or narrow, but appropriate to its application.
In determining whether the transportation of cash falls within the scope of the Private Security Bargaining Council, as opposed to the Bargaining Council, the LAC considered the Bargaining Council's view that within the context and purpose "regard must be had to the objective of promoting orderly collective bargaining at sectoral level.” The LAC further considered the Bargaining Council's view that cash, while being transported, is not being used as a means of exchange and thus it is a commodity just like any other being transported to its destination where it will serve the purpose that it normally serves. The LAC questioned that if this was the case, why would there be a need for specialist services to transport this commodity equivalent to any other. Consequently, the LAC held that the transportation of cash, irrespective of doing so in boxes, containers and sealed bags, does not convert "cash" into "goods".
In considering the demarcation of "cash" and "goods", the LAC examined the cases of Fidelity Guards Holding (Pty) Ltd v Springbok Patrols (Pty) Ltd and TGWU and Coin Security Group and Others, whereby both cases resulted in the granting of a demarcation award, which recognised the transportation of cash activities within the scope of the Bargaining Council. Counteracting SBV's argument, was the exemption previously granted by the Bargaining Council in respect of SBV's transportation of cash activities. The exemption effectively recognised the transportation of cash activities within the scope of the Bargaining Council.
Taking into account the facts, the LAC found that the real issue in question is whether "goods" incorporated "cash" in the Bargaining Council's certificate of registration. It considered the purpose of the Bargaining Council's certificate of registration which aimed to include the transportation of "everything other than people and beast" and respectively in such a context, "everything" would include "cash". Moreover, when the Bargaining Council registered a new constitution in 2010, it specifically included the "transportation or delivery of cash and/or valuables" as a recognised component within the Bargaining Council's scope.
In light of this, the LAC dismissed the appeal and held that the word "goods" in respect of the Bargaining Council's certificate of registration includes "cash".