The Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has painted a glowing picture of its Newcastle office in KwaZulu-Natal that has posted an impressive 73 percent case settlement rate during the 2011/12 financial year.
This was disclosed by Nerine Kahn, the CCMA’s national director, during an oversight visit by members of the Portfolio Committee on Labour which ended at the weekend. The visit marked the end of weeklong trip which took the committee members to labour centres, Productivity South Africa and Sheltered Employment Factories in Durban, Port Shepstone and Escourt.
Kahn said in the same period, 45 percent of conciliation-arbitrations were finalised on the first day of hearing. She said another equally important fact was that all conciliations were heard within 30 days.
She said the period also saw a total of 15 percent new cases being resolved at pre-conciliation. Kahn however, said that not everything was rosy, with Marikana and farm workers’ strikes spilling over into Newcastle, with unprotected strikes becoming the order of the day.
“Many employees believe that they are exonerated from compliance with the Labour Relations Act procedures and this has placed additional pressure on commissioner resources in dealing with unprotected strikes in northern KwaZulu-Natal,’’ she said.
She cited an example of unprotected strikes at Forbes Coal with workers coming up with “exorbitant demands of over 70 percent wage increase.’’
Another example was at Moneyline Mine in Vryheid where employees went on strike demanding no disciplinary action against an employee who was manufacturing dangerous weapons underground.
Eleck Nchabeleng, chairperson of the committee, said he was proud of the achievements of the Newcastle office, which was opened in 2010. He said during the 2011/12 financial year, the office dealt with 2265 new cases – about 45 percent more than was projected.
“What also impresses me about this office is that there is a clear career-pathing for staffers where someone can easily come in as an interpreter and end up as a commissioner. I’m also elated at the fact that this office offers outreach services to outlying areas like Ladysmith, Vryheid and Dundee. I also wish to state that the CCMA is at the centre of peace in industrial relations and labour stability in this country,’’ Nchabeleng said.
He said committee members would support the institution by “ensuring that the current labour amendments should make its work easier, especially clauses that deal with enforcement of awards. Nchabeleng said it would go a long way if there was a CCMA presence in every labour centre.
Turning to the global picture of the province, Kahn said there have been 340 000 referrals to the CCMA since 1996 with the average workload per year for KwaZulu-Natal showing that there have been: 20 000 new cases per year – 30 000 scheduled and hear events – 14 000 cases settled – 50 pre-dismissal arbitrations and 2 050 jobs saved as well as 1 200 back-to-work agreements.