Articles

May 29

Written by: Leonie Pretorius
29 May 2012  RssIcon

It has become so common to see vulnerable workers who seek the assistance of the CCMA being escorted into 127 Fox Street (Cnr. Eloff), Johannesburg by unscrupulous operators claiming to be lawyers or, worse still, CCMA employees, that this seems to be an accepted or normal state of affairs.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was established to provide the country with an accessible, user-friendly and, above all, inexpensive labour dispute resolution system. Workers who have allegedly been unfairly dismissed or the victims of various unfair labour practices are able to approach the CCMA alone or with certain categories of recognised representatives in order to seek redress for workplace wrongs.


Despite efforts by the CCMA and the Department of Labour to publicise the fact that most of the CCMA’s dispute resolution services are freely available, various categories of unscrupulous operators seeking to make quick money, continually utilise various ingenious means to distort the facts and to convince vulnerable users that approaching the CCMA directly may not yield the desired results.


Some of these operators are lawyers who try to convince CCMA users that the services of the institution cannot be procured without professional legal assistance and representation. This is merely fictitious. According to Rule 25 of the amended CCMA Rules, 2003, legal practitioners are only allowed to represent employees in certain circumstances, at certain processes. A lawyer or legal practitioner is, in most instances, not required in the initial advice seeking or referral stages of the process. Users can approach trained Case Management Officers (CMOs) on the second floor of the CCMA building for free information and advice on how to refer disputes to the CCMA. Furthermore, the CCMA best practice video entitled “Trouble at Work! What can I do” was produced with the intention of assisting organisations that support and advise workers on their labour rights. The video offers advice and guidance to workers when a dispute arises in the workplace. It has been widely distributed and is available in isiZulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English.


Other operators may be untrained or semi-trained individuals who are merely seeking to make quick money out of some of the most vulnerable categories of people. These operators may include so-called consultants who offer to circumvent CCMA queues by providing users with referral forms and advice. Whilst the CCMA provides dispute referral forms to employees at no cost, our research has shown that some of the more unscrupulous operators charge applicants as much as R500, 00 for completing referral forms and advice. Some offer to represent applicants in CCMA hearings, only to be excluded from hearings by commissioners who do not allow consultants to represent in hearings. Our research has also shown that some operators merely part employees from their money and then vanish without having provided the services that these unwitting applicants have paid dearly for.


Certain operators may even try to masquerade as helpful CCMA employees and offer to escort applicants to the correct offices and to assist with the completion of forms and other administrative details. CCMA employees are generally to be found INSIDE the building and not outside the building or on the stairs of the building. No CCMA employee may solicit business for him/herself in this manner as this is against the CCMA’s rules of conduct for its employees.


In conclusion, the CCMA would like to highlight the following critical elements:


  • Lodging a dispute is a free service at the CCMA,
  • CCMA does not charge for completing referral forms,
  • CCMA does not provide lawyers or consultants to applicants,
  • CCMA employees are not allowed to solicit business either inside or outside the building, and
  • If you suspect fraud/corruption in this regard, please contact their Call Centre at 0861 16 16 16 or alternatively

Copyright ©2012 Leonie Pretorius

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