Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)

Big spike in retrenchment applications, says CCMA

By Dineo Faku Time of article published May 11, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - The commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has seen a spike of applications for large-scale retrenchments in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations during the national Covid-19 lockdown period, it said on Friday.

Speaking during a virtual briefing, CCMA director Cameron Sello Morajane said the organisation had received 17 referrals of large-scale retrenchments affecting 3 344 employees. He also said the CCMA had received 151 referrals for Section 189 A applications which were not large-scale.  

“These numbers that I have just read are not a true reflection of the actual dismissals that are happening in the economy. Small-scale dismissals usually are not reported. There is no referral for unfair dismissals, there is no request for us to intervene, or to try to assist. The numbers you see are affected by the fact that the CCMA offices were on Level 5 lockdown,” said Morajane, adding when the company resumed operations it would receive a huge number of referrals. Section 189A of the Labour Relations Act permits employers to dismiss employees for operational requirements.

Morajane said the CCMA was concerned about the jobs bloodbath in small and medium enterprises as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have noted with pain that a number of companies that have approached (us) are companies that are closing. Those that are largely affected are those that are small and medium. We have seen the bloodbath the CCMA has been talking about for months now,” said Morajane.

Morajane said the closure of small businesses was an acute problem that needed to be urgently addressed.

“It is sad that we are losing small businesses that are closing, because small businesses contribute to reducing our unemployment rate, but if they are closing it means our unemployment rate will then start to soar. It is an acute problem that needs an integrated approach for us to be able to assist and improve,” said Morajane. He said people could expect a new approach to business from the CCMA, for example it was developing digital referral forms to minimise physical visits to CCMA offices.

He also said commissioners would be required to travel to workplaces to resolve disputes and the CCMA had decentralised its call centre and matters that came before Covid-19 and amid the lockdown were in the process of being rescheduled.


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