CCMA faces legal action from employees

2015-05-22 21:15
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Durban - The very institution that is tasked with ensuring that workers' conditions of employment are adhered could ironically find itself in court for failing to do so.

About 20 interpreters from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) are threatening to ask the Labour Court declare them permanent employees.

The employees are awaiting a response from Raj Sanker, who heads up the CCMA.

According to a letter sent by lawyer Brett Purdon, who is representing the interpreters, most have been employed as independent contractors.

Purdon told News24 that the Labour Relations Act was amended and, according to these amendments, his clients believe they should be treated as full-time employees.

The relevant section of the Labour Act, Section 198 (8) (a), says: “An employee employed in terms of a fixed term contract for longer than three months must not be treated less favourably than an employee employed on a permanent basis performing the same or similar work, unless there is a justifiable reason for different treatment.”

These amendments to the Labour Relations Act came into effect on January 1.

Purdon said that ordinarily, the interpreters would have had to approach the CCMA to resolve their dispute, but since the CCMA is one of the parties in the case it would be better to approach the Labour Court as it should not be the judge of its own case.

“Our clients believe that in view of the amendments to Section 198, they are deemed to be employed on a permanent and indefinite basis. Our instructions are therefore to approach the Labour Court for a declaratory order, inter alia, to declare our clients to be permanent employees of the commission,” the letter reads.

According to Purdon’s letter, the interpreters had a meeting with the CCMA early in May, but were told that their grievances would only be addressed in September.

A statement issued by the CCMA in response to questions posed by News24 read: “As one of the custodians of the Labour Relations Act, the CCMA is a model employer and has accordingly taken the necessary steps to ensure that it complies with the provisions of the Labour Relations Act.

"As things stand, the CCMA is in the final stages of implementing a project to employ the required compliment of its interpreters on a full-time basis while still maintaining a smaller group of part-time interpreters within the parameters of the law.”

The statement did not say how many of the interpreters would be employed or when they expected the process to be completed.

The CCMA was still in the process of determining what grade an interpreter should be employed at.

“CCMA interpreters presently earn R662.34 per day. The monthly salary of a person appointed to a full-time position will ultimately be dependent on the outcome of the planned job grading exercise.”

According to the statement CCMA had done everything to ensure that it complied with the law.

Read more on:    labour court  |  ccma  |  durban  |  labour

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