Ten days after the conciliation hearing, on 22 August 2005, the applicants filed their emergency application for reference, pending a review of the Commissioner`s decision by that court or the resolution of the dispute by the SSSBC. The parties dispute whether the issue is indeed urgent. For reasons that will arise, I am not proposing to deal with the issue of urgency now, but I will do so later in that judgment. The applicants argue that with respect to this clause, the Commissioner agreed not to introduce new working time provisions without meaningful consultation, in violation of the 29 June 2005 decision against the court order. At various stages of the dispute, the unions challenged the Commissioner`s decision for various reasons. As we have seen, during conciliation, the unions considered that the decision to introduce the adapted 8-hour position was a unilateral change in the terms of their members` employment contracts. On the other hand, SAPS saw the amendment as a change in collective agreements. The full meaning of the different interpretations will appear later. For the discussions that immediately follow, when I talk about the amendment, I am referring in general to the Commissioner`s „decision.“ In early July 2005, SAPU referred a dispute to the SSSBC. In the referral form, the dispute is considered a unilateral change in the terms of employment. Under the paragraph „Necessary Result“, the union stated that it wanted to divert the introduction of the 8-hour shift work system from the implementation of the 8-hour shift work system. In the planned pro forma space (referring to Section 64, paragraph 4, LRA), it noted that it required the employer not to unilaterally implement the proposed amendments for 30 days and required that they restore the terms of employment in force prior to the amendment.

The details of the dispute were set out in an appendix to the reference form and saPU`s letters to management were reproduced verbatim in the July 8, 2005 SAPU letter. On 31 May 2002, the Commissioner issued a circular for all senior officials and officials from across the country, explaining the context and purpose of The 5/2002 Agreement.