“We are really battling to cope,” says executive director of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), Cameron Morajane, saying it is buckling under the load of nearly 200 000 cases.
Presenting the CCMA’s annual report for 2018/19 on Monday , Morajane said 193 732 cases were referred to it compared to 186 902 during the previous year.
The 4% increase in case load can be attributed to disputes arising from the national minimum wage (NMW) that was phased in on January 1, as well as the amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).
The NMW is set at R20 per hour with special provision of R18 per hour for farm workers, R15 per hour for domestic workers and R11 per workers for workers in the Expanded Public Works Programme. The amendments to the BCEA now allow for the CMMA to preside over cases related to the non-compliance of the NMW.
By March 31 the CCMA had received 4287 cases relating to the BCEA and the NMW, constituting 8% of the total referrals received during the three month period.
“With these new jurisdictions and the caseload we do need more commissioners. The team that we have now it is definitely stretched to the limit for us to be able to cope with these high volumes of cases that we are dealing with,” Morajane said.
The business professionals sector has 27% — the highest — of all referrals, followed by retail (11%), safety and security (12%) and building and construction (7%). Over 70% of referrals related to unfair dismissals 11% to unfair labour practices.
Morajane said the increase in caseload from year to year impacts on the organisation’s ability to efficiently and effectively carry out its mandate. Despite this, the CCMA achieved a 95% performance in during the 2018/19 financial year, missing only one of its set targets. 88% of the cases were heard within the targeted 30 days, taking on average 24 days to complete.
“In terms of the arbitration turnaround times, the CCMA took an average of 68 days against an internal target of 60 days from the date of receipt to completion of the arbitration process,” he said.
The CCMA received an additional R57-million in funding from the government to deal with the increased caseload. R2.8-million of that amount was allocated to supplement the CCMA’s budget in preparation for the NMW. Chief financial officer, Kedibone Mashakgomo said 65% of the organisation’s budget for the financial year was allocated to pay for staff salaries.
“Once something like a new legislation comes into effect there is a lot of cost that goes into introducing it. From training the staff to ensuring that we have the right equipment so we can hear the cases,” she said.