CCMA under pressure

The recession has heightened labour conflict in South Africa, with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) bargaining councils and statutory bodies fielding nearly 200 000 referrals in the past year, a 13% rise, says Tokiso, a dispute settlement service.

Retrenchment disputes have increased, with less-skilled employees of labour brokers being the first to lose jobs, according to Tokiso’s chief executive, Tanya Venter.

But conflict over other dismissals and unfair labour practices has also grown. About 82% of cases referred to the CCMA and bargaining councils revolved around unfair dismissals.

Summarising Tokiso’s 2009-10 review, Venter said that, given the increased caseload, it was “of serious concern” that the CCMA’s budget was cut by 9% for 2009-10.

Lack of resources was one of the major challenges facing labour relations, with the regulation of labour brokers and ensuring that parties to disputes — particularly employers — comply with the rulings of dispute settlement institutions.

Venter welcomed planned changes in legislation to regulate labour brokers, including the dual liability of brokers and clients for fair labour practices. But she warned that this might prompt further job cuts and referrals in the coming year.

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