The outbreak of the coronavirus has posed a challenge to expeditious resolution of disputes before the CCMA and Labour Courts. After almost two months of a nationwide lockdown, the CCMA has finally opened its doors again to the public and litigants.
Time periods in the context of labour disputes are generally essential to bring about timely resolution of dispute. The Labour Relations Act (LRA) is intended to bring about the expeditious resolution of labour disputes which, by their nature, require speedy resolution.
Any delay of labour disputes undermines the primary object of the LRA. It is detrimental not only to the workers who may be without a source of income pending the resolution of the dispute but, ultimately, also to an employer who may have to reinstate workers after many years.
Therefore, in respect of new referrals to the CCMA, the following will apply:
- The CCMA Offices will be open and accessible to members of the public as of Wednesday, 20 May 2020.
- The number of people who will be granted permission to enter the building at any given time will be strictly monitored and the public are requested to exercise patience in this regard.
- Parties will be allowed to submit physical copies (hard copies) of completed referral forms to the CCMA.
Moreover, the following will apply to cases to be heard at the CCMA:
- Representatives and Parties who are required to travel to the venues, must comply where applicable with any restrictions that exist.
- The CCMA shall abide by all Regulations and Directives that are issued in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act. Thus, it is only in terms of such Regulations and Directives that the CCMA may convene physical hearings at one or more of its premises or at a venue agreed to by the Parties and the CCMA in writing.
- Anyone seeking access into the CCMA buildings or another designated other venue to be utilised for a hearing, must submit to compulsory screening, must wear a face mask, must apply hand sanitizer, and must adhere to applicable social distancing rules.
- Only Parties who do not exceed 10 (TEN) in number, subject to the size of the venue, taking into consideration to the compulsory social distancing rule, and their Representative shall enter the CCMA buildings or designated other venues.
- Should any Party object to have the matter dealt with under the conditions described above, that party must submit the notice of objection and reasons for such objection in writing and serve same on the other party and on the CCMA. The Provincial Senior Commissioner or delegated other, after consideration of the submissions and of possible reasonable alternatives, must decide whether the matter should proceed or be postponed.
The failure to comply with the new directives may lead to your matter not being heard and/or refusal to access the CCMA building.
Although these restrictions will require the public and litigants to take the necessary precautions, this is a good step in ensuring that there is expeditious resolution of disputes.