CCMA cases keep climbing

Labour disputes are still rising unabated, with the caseload of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) reaching yet another all-time high in the 2016/17 financial year.

The majority of CCMA cases stem from workers challenging their retrenchment as unfair. Such referrals serve as a good measure of economic distress in the job market.

The CCMA had 188 449 referrals in the past year – a 5% jump on the previous year.

The commission’s latest annual report, released this week, shows another distinct development in the labour market: small-scale retrenchments are rapidly outpacing large-scale ones.

The CCMA is not asked to intervene in these pre-emptively, making it difficult to stop the blood bath.

Of the almost 50 000 workers who were subject to “large-scale” retrenchment notices in the year, about half ended up keeping their jobs, said the CCMA.

Regarding the smaller retrenchments, the CCMA is not automatically drawn into the matter and usually only gets involved after the jobs are already lost.

The government’s flagship tool for mitigating the effects of job losses, the training layoff scheme – aimed at training workers facing retrenchment – was also being hamstrung by the involvement of too many implementing partners, it said.

There has been a massive spike in applications to use the scheme, but the actual results have been “minimal”, according to Haroun Docrat, the CCMA’s head of collective bargaining and outreach.

“More jobs were saved through innovative and creative initiatives of CCMA facilitators and parties,” reads his part of the annual report.

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