‘It is not through a fight that you get what you want,’ says former CCMA commissioner who wants to help

Mapalo Tsatsimpe's book on mediation aims to empower employees

22 September 2021 - 06:00
Former CCMA commissioner Mapalo Tsatsimpe has written a book to empower employers and employees on mediation.
Former CCMA commissioner Mapalo Tsatsimpe has written a book to empower employers and employees on mediation.
Image: SUPPLIED

Having been a labour commissioner for 20 years, Mapalo Tsatsimpe decided to pen a book in which she aims to educate employees in different sectors on the process of mediation, saving them the stress of losing cases they could have otherwise won.

In her book #Mediation, Tsatsimpe, 58, a former commissioner at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), also addresses, among other things, steps that employers and employees should take if they want to be successful in mediation, and what they should avoid.

“The idea [behind the book] is to start a movement on mediation and empower both employees and employers. What I noticed when I was at the CCMA is that there is a shortage of negotiating skills from both employer and employee,” said Tsatsimpe.

“There are so many strikes in SA, and some are violent. My question is: why are we not using mediation to resolve disputes? Because no-one benefits from a strike or a lockout. The book intends to empower people on mediation and what they need to do to have a successful arbitration.”

Mediation, Tsatsimpe said, not only works in workplace disputes, but also at home, between husband and wife.

“If as a woman you do not have negotiation skills, your man will walk over you. You need to be empowered and know how to deal with a dispute, even at home. Mediation is about engaging issues and not about a fight.

“I want people to know it is not through a fight that you get what you want. It’s through negotiation.

“I hope they learn skills to get a better deal, whether it is to get back to work or receive compensation.

“Don’t just take anything because you are hungry. Learn to negotiate,” she said.

Tsatsimpe currently serves on bargaining councils.

In her experience as a commissioner at the CCMA, Tsatsimpe said she had noticed that when employees went to the commission to refer cases of dismissal, they lacked negotiation skills. This, she said, contributes to people losing cases.

What people do not know is that you do not need a lawyer to go to the CCMA. You have the commissioner who can explain the process to you and guide you.
Mapalo Tsatsimpe

“Some people end up accepting whatever is offered to them instead of negotiating for better deals. I also discovered employees do not know that if they possessed the skill of mediation, they could part with their employers with a better offer.

“My intention is to say mediation is a good process for both parties, but they need skills to negotiate good or better deals,” Tsatsimpe said.

She had also come across cases where aggrieved employees were represented by “bogus” lawyers who did not have a labour law background.

“These lawyers promise the employees the world and charge them exorbitant amounts in the process, but fail to deliver when they have to go to the negotiation table simply because they do not have labour law skills.

“Labour relations is a specialist skill and no lawyer is taught at school how to mediate. It’s something you learn from practice or from observing other parties. You have to think about mediation as a deal maker.

“What people do not know is that you do not need a lawyer to go to the CCMA. You have the commissioner who can explain the process to you and guide you,” Tsatsimpe said.

In her experience, she had learnt that employees also lose cases because they do not refer their disputes within the stipulated 30-day period.

“If you believe your dismissal was unfair, you do not have to wait for 30 days. I noticed people only went to the CCMA when the period had lapsed. When they go there, their cases are not given priority because they still have to apply for condonation.”

Tsatsimpe said it was important for employees to follow up on their cases and not expect to get feedback from the CCMA.

“Employees refer cases and wait to be called. In the book, I emphasise the importance of doing a follow up to the case. One has to take the initiative.

“The law says a matter has to be dealt with within 30 days of it being referred. Even when a lawyer promises to take on your case, you have to follow up because they take on a lot of cases at the same time and work according to who pays first.”

The book is available at selected Exclusive Books stores. It can also be ordered via Tsatsimpe’s Facebook page.

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