Union worried that termination of part-time CCMA consultants will hit workers

29 January 2021 - 19:28 By belinda pheto
CCMA director Cameron Morajane. The CCMA is said to have terminated contracts of more than 500 part-time commissioners due to budget constraints.
CCMA director Cameron Morajane. The CCMA is said to have terminated contracts of more than 500 part-time commissioners due to budget constraints.
Image: Sunday Times

The SA Parastatals and Tertiary Institutions Union (Saptu) has expressed concern over the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration's (CCMA) decision to terminate the service of more than 500 part-time commissioners due to budget cuts.

“These cuts now leave the caseload entirely to the 173 full-time commissioners left,” says advocate Ben van der Walt, secretary-general of Saptu.

According to Saptu, the director of the CCMA, Cameron Morajane, announced that the commission would not use the services of any of its part-time consultants — mostly lawyers — starting December 2020 to make up for the R617bn budget cut over the next three years.

According to the union, part-time commissioners conducted 60% of the commission’s arbitration hearings.

“With part-time commissioners out of service, the arbitration backlogs will quickly build,” Van der Walt said.

“Workers will be the ones to suffer. It is a disaster. They will have to wait longer for cases to be resolved, or feel forced to settle disputes quickly for less,” he said.

In June last year, the CCMA introduced a free digital platform for people to refer conciliation and arbitration disputes and make enforcement or condonation applications but the union said that was not good as the CCMA's doors remain closed to walk-in clients.

In 2019, in the annual report of the CCMA, Morajane said they had received 193,732 cases in the 2018/2019 financial year, a 4% increase over the preceding year.

The report also highlighted the number of issues the CCMA dealt with, including expanded jurisdiction, budget constraints and an increase in workload.

Saptu said it is also concerned that employers might abuse the cutbacks knowing that disputes will only be heard much later if they dismiss employees now. Van der Walt said the situation is completely unacceptable.

The CCMA had not responded to questions at the time of publishing.

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