The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) is an independent body in South Africa that is charged with resolving disputes in labor relations.
The mechanism is independent from the Government. It is run by the Governing Body and comprised of representatives of the three social partners: workers, business and government. The actual processes are run by Commissioners appointed by the Governing Body. Senior Commissioners, organised by province, monitor the process and assist in the allocation of cases. Once a Commissioner is vested with a matter, no other party or person may interfere with the discretion of that Commissioner, except for a higher court of law, such as the Labour Court.
Who can access it?
Employees in dispute with their employer or vice versa can access the CCMA over matters including dismissal, wages and working conditions, workplace changes or discrimination.
How does it work?
The case must deal with an issue in the Labour Relations Act or the Employment Equity Act. Complaints can be lodged at the CCMA by completing a CCMA case referral form (aka LRA Form 7.11). A copy of the completed form must be sent by the complainant to the other party and the complainant must be able to prove that a copy was sent.
The first meeting is usually conciliation, where the parties seek to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Legal representation is not allowed at this stage. If no agreement is reached, the commissioner will issue a certificate to that effect. The case may then be referred to the CCMA for arbitration or the Labour Court as the next step.
Arbitration can be requested by completing the request for arbitration form (aka the LRA Form 7.13). Parties may bring witnesses and documents to prove their case, and can cross-examine each other. Legal representation may be allowed at this stage. The commissioner will make a final and binding decision (arbitration award) within 14 days. If a party does not comply with the arbitration award, it may be made an order of the Labour Court.