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Minimum Wage Act has led to huge rise in labour disputes, says CCMA

The CCMA's caseload has grown since the passing of the National Minimum Wage Act last year.
The CCMA's caseload has grown since the passing of the National Minimum Wage Act last year.
Image: 123rf.com

The Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) says it has seen an increase in cases since the passing of the National Minimum Wage Act.

Speaking on Tuesday at the launch of the organisation’s five-year strategy, CCMA director Cameron Morajane said the commission had received a total of 184,000 cases since January. Of those, 28,676 were minimum wage disputes.

In November 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the National Minimum Wage Bill, which at the time was expected to benefit about 6-million workers who earned below R3,700 a month. The bill was signed into law on January 1 2019.

“Before the minimum wage came to law last year, we had a normal rate of growth of our cases. When the minimum wage started, we had anticipated a 10% increased on our caseload — but it tripled. We can call it an exception, with the addition of the minimum wage,” said Morajane.

Added to the CCMA's workload are pay disputes in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, said Morajane. “This means that the normal cases that would ordinarily be dealt with by the department of employment and labour, we are doing them. That increases our caseload,” he said.

With the launch of the five-year strategy called Imvuselelo (revival), Morajane said the CCMA would continue to work towards fewer job losses.

“The strategic intent of the 2020-2024/25 Imvuselelo strategy is focused on reviving the organisation internally, transforming it into a modern, optimised institution — a strategic imperative of realising a high-performing organisation.”

He said the strategy would also focus on dealing with changing needs of the labour market to enable the organisation to improve its effectiveness and efficiency.

According to Morajane, the 2015/16- 2019/20 Senz’umehluko (making a difference) strategy had made a “meaningful” impact in the labour market.

“Based on figures linked to actual referrals, of the 237,531 employees facing retrenchments in [section] 189A, large-scale retrenchment over the period, 96,730 had their jobs saved.

“The CCMA also experienced some measure of success by assisting parties in resolving their wage disputes without the assistance of a facilitator or the need to refer the matter to statutory conciliation,” he added.