JOHANNESBURG – Technological advances coupled with legislation changes on labour brokers have contributed to a 4 percent year-on-year increase in the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration’s (CCMA) case load in the 2018/19 financial year compared to a year earlier.
CCMA director Cameron Morajane told journalists in Johannesburg on Monday that the dispute resolution body's cases jumped to 193 732 during the period from 186 902 in the previous year.
Morajane said that the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) had contributed to the job losses as it had a direct bearing on the nature and future of work affecting business operational models and current and future work opportunities.
“When it comes to 4IR we have to make peace with the fact that it is here to stay,” Morajane said, adding that automation and artificial intelligence had hit the banking sector hard.
“While the 4IR is a serious contributor, the legal reform since 2015 has had also had an impact. What we are seeing is that instead of receiving employees on a permanent basis after the three-month period has ended, they (employers) then decide to retrench. This affects the vulnerable sectors.”
Morajane said he foresaw more 25 percent more referrals due to the minimum wage.
"An additional 25 percent is what we project due to the introduction of the minimum wage and the basic conditions of employment provisions," he said. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act prescribes certain minimum conditions of employment which must be applied.
“What worries me is because of the magnitude of dismissals we deal with . ..There are retrenchments that are happening below the radar, and contributing to the job losses,” he said. The building and construction sector had recorded the highest number of employees retrenched, followed by the mining sector and the metal sector.
“Regrettably, the CCMA’s potential to save jobs in small-scale retrenchment processes is hamstrung by the fact that the CCMA only gets involved once the retrenchment process has already been initiated,” he said.
Morajane said that during the year under review, the CCMA managed to save 41 percent or 15 787 jobs which were on the line.
He said 38 588 employees had been subjects of Section 189A, large-scale retrenchment referrals, and actual retrenchments were recorded at 21 391.
“The CCMA intensified its job-saving efforts by ensuring that strategic partnerships with relevant stakeholders such as Productivity SA are maintained, to ensure that support to businesses in distress is provided and options explored to avoid job losses,” he said.
Morajane said the CCMA had settled 74 percent of all cases heard and closed.
He said the CCMA took an average of 68 days against an internal target of 60 days from the referral to completion of the arbitration process.
The Labour Relations Act requires the CCMA to send to parties arbitration awards within 14 days after the conclusion of the arbitration award.
“Fifty-one out of 16 720 arbitration awards were issued outside the 14-day statutory time frame, which equates to a 99.69 percent compliance rate,” he said.