Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) 2006/2007 Annual Report: briefings

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Employment and Labour

26 February 2008
Chairperson: Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration gave briefing on its 2006/07 Annual Report. The presentation focused on the CCMA new three-yrar revival strategy, the new organisational structure, operational achievements in 2006/07, qualitative improvements, financial results and its areas of focus, challenges and interest.

Members of the Committee commended the CCMA for its low staff turnover and the targets achieved in 2006/07which were ascribed to good teamwork and internal training. The call centre initiative was termed a quick fix but the CCMA pointed out that evaluation studies had shown that it had had a positive impact. Skills development initiatives by the CCMA were also discussed.

Meeting report

Ms Nerine Kahn, CCMA Director, and her delegation gave a presentation on the CCMA 2006/07 Annual Report. The briefing looked at its new three-year strategic plan, the Tsoso (revival) Strategy, the CCMA’s new organisational structure, operational achievements in 2006/07, qualitative improvements, finance and the CCMA areas of focus, challenges and interest.

The goals for the next three years include the promotion of social justice through the services provided by the CCMA while ensuring compliance with legislation, delivery of quality services and maintaining cost-effective operations.

Thus the areas of focus, in line with the strategic goals, include the intensification and broadening of the CCMA’s outreach in the labour market, and delivery of compliant services through high performance and high impact whilst maintaining a balance between quality and quantity. Further strategic focus areas were the repositioning of the organisation to meet future strategic needs, and enhance internal processes and systems to ensure effective deployment of resources. The performance indicators for each of the goals were outlined in the presentation, as well as the organogram of the revised CCMA National Office structure.

The operational achievements, in terms of conciliations/arbitrations (Con/Arbs) finalised, conciliations conducted and closed, arbitrations finalised, and average turnaround time for conciliations were outlined in graphs. Significant improvements in each of these areas were evident through comparisons with 2005/06 trends. The qualitative improvements, in terms of capacity building and outreach and dispute resolution were noted.

The finance section noted funding received by the CCMA in 2006/07 was R203 million with an additional funding of R41 million; this increased to R260 million 2007/08. The use of the budget in relation to resources and caseload over the past decade was evaluated.

Areas of interest included the constitutional court challenge, Sidumo v Rustenburg Platinum Mines, and its impact on the role of the Labour Courts in reviewing CCMA awards. Other focuses were case management enhancements and stakeholder engagements.

Discussion
In reply to Ms A Dreyer (DA) asking why the CCMA Board Chairperson was not present, Ms Khan explained that he had resigned the previous year. She added that the CCMA was nonetheless operating with the requisite committees required.

Ms Dreyer commended the CCMA for its low staff turnover and the targets achieved in 2006/07and asked how the CCMA had managed to do so well amid the skills challenge being faced by many government departments.

Ms Khan replied by attributing the achievements attained to teamwork.

A member of the CCMA delegation added that the good progress made in 2006/07 was due to an increased focus, employing better skilled staff, internal training and reworking cases received.

Ms Dreyer referred to the CCMA’s 2006/07 unqualified audit report which identified a problem about part-time commissioners being taxed. She asked if the problem had been resolved.

Mr Labuschagne (DA) asked if the use of a call centres and talks shows by the CCMA was not a quick fix to long term problems and how effective the initiatives had been so far.

Ms Khan replied that evaluation studies had shown a positive impact from the talk shows and call-centre initiatives. She added that calls received at the call centre always rose significantly after the talks shows were conducted.

A member of the CCMA delegation replied that the call centre agents were highly skilled and that they were monitored constantly in terms of the service and information they provided.

Mr Labuschagne asked for elaboration on the skills development initiatives by the CCMA. He asked whether the 6 975 learners enrolled where affiliated to the CCMA.

A member of the CCMA delegation replied that the learners were enrolled through workshops based on strategic targeting processing and the targeting of vulnerable workers who frequently use the services of the CCMA. The workshops involve incumbents from organised business and labour

The Chairperson referred to the case management initiatives, particularly the enhancement of rural area access to labour centres and CCMA activities, and asked if any impact studies had been conducted on this.

Ms Moss (ANC) commended the CCMA on its improvements and achievements. She referred to the previous year’s budget vote debate, during which she requested arrangements be made to provide farm workers with transport or better access to labour centres. She thanked the CCMA for their efforts to address the issue, although she stressed that more could be done to aid farm workers.

Ms Khan replied that progress had been made in addressing access of CCMA services by farm workers and workers in the rural areas.

Ms Moss asked if the training conducted was part of the CCMA’s administrative component.

Dr Roopnarain (IFP) referred to the finance section on page 46 of the CCMA report and asked about the remuneration of the board members and if there was performance remuneration awarded to employees. He also asked about the possibility of applicants appealing when not satisfied with the services provided by the CCMA.

Mr N Nene (ANC) asked whether the information provided by the call centres was available in all languages.

Ms Khan replied that lanaguage was a challenge for the CMMA and English was the predominant language used, although information and services were provided in all 11 languages

Mr Nene asked if impact assessments and evaluations had been conducted on the awareness campaigns indicated in the Annual Report and presentation.

Mr Mzondeki (ANC) asked how the CCMA had decided to use English as the predominant language at their call centres. He asked if any awareness campaigns were conducted via talk shows on radio. He requested that the employment equity targets indicated in the report be provided in numbers as opposed to percentages for clarity sake.

A member of the CCMA delegation replied that the call centres used all 11 South African languages, although English was the most predominant language used by the callers themselves. He added that the call centre agents were also bilingual and on average spoke at least three languages. The recruitment for the call centre takes cognizance of the need to have the services in all 11 languages.

A committee member asked if all the vacancies in the CCMA’s revised national office structure had been filled.

Mr B Mkongi (ANC) referred to page 15 of the annual report that indicated non-attendance records by either parties at arbitration cases and asked if the reason behind the trend could be a lack of confidence in the CCMA.

Mr Mkongi referred to the training conducted by CCMA and attended by Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) and National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU) officials, and asked if this training concentrated only on shops stewards or other occupational categories.

A committee member added to Mr Mkongi’s question and asked for elaboration on the skills development initiatives conducted by the CCMA, and whether these targeted vulnerable workers who need such training.

A CCMA delegation member replied that the learners in the training programmes were enrolled firstly through targeting workers who frequently used CCMA services and belonged to vulnerable sectors such as domestic and agricultural sectors. The shop stewards and union officials in these sectors were then specifically targeted for training. Nonetheless, the CCMA targeted shop stewards and officials from all sectors and unions. Seventy percent of the referrals received by the CCMA were from sectors in which workers were not represented or organised. These workers and the sectors they belong were specifically targeted through imbizos and road shows conducted in conjunction with the Department of Labour. These imbizos and road shows educated the workers on exercising their workplace rights. These workshops were complemented by a video titled  ‘Trouble At Work’ which is currently only in four languages but would soon be updated to include other South African languages. The CCMA also conducted talk shows on 20 radios stations addressing a variety of topics and targeting vulnerable sectors with no organized labour.

Mr Mkongi referred to page 12 of the CCMA Annual Report and asked if the Department of Labour provided training or funding, or both in the strengthening of civil society initiatives. He asked if the CCMA conducted awareness campaigns for the training it offered. Were there policy or legal constraints on the equity courts and was the CCMA experiencing any challenges in targeting covert discrimination.

A member of the CCMA delegation replied that the Department of Labour did provide funding to the CCMA for civil society initiatives including the training provided to CCMA commissioners.

The meeting was adjourned.

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