The Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) says it was able to save 58‚165 of 138‚816 jobs that were likely to be lost to retrenchment in the 2020/2021 financial year‚ despite fiscal challenges brought by Covid-19.
The commission has been kept busy as record numbers of workers approached it over labour disputes amid a jobs bloodbath‚ it said in its annual report released on Tuesday.
Chairperson Enos Ngutshane said it was a challenging year‚ more so because they could not implement their five-year strategy because of Covid-19 and accompanying regulations.
“Furthermore‚ government fiscal challenges resulted in budget reductions of all government entities and the CCMA. Despite the challenges‚ the CCMA continued to strive to make a meaningful contribution towards labour peace and equity‚ as per the strategic intent of the strategy‚” he said.
Cases referred to the CCMA as at the end of the 2020/21 financial year numbered 154‚143. This was a decline compared to the 221‚547 of the 2019/20 financial year‚ according to the chairperson. He said the entity took 23 days on average to deal with conciliation cases‚ which was commendable given the fiscal challenges.
“The budget constraints meant that the budget allocation no longer corresponded with the operational needs. The budget cuts necessitated the executive management to develop novel approaches to do more with less.
“Despite the difficult socio-economic challenges confronting the country‚ the CCMA’s job-saving efforts saw 58‚165 of 138‚816 jobs that were likely to be lost to retrenchment saved‚ with actual retrenchments recorded at 74‚747.
“These figures translate into 42% of jobs saved as per cases referred to the CCMA‚ against the 2020/21 APP [annual performance plan] target of 20%‚” said Ngutshane.
The retail sector was the most affected‚ with more than 17‚292 employees likely to be retrenched‚ according to the report. It is followed by the hotel sector with 8‚919 employees likely to be retrenched and business-transport (private motor) retail with more than 7‚288 employees likely to be retrenched.
The CCMA was able to save 11‚423 jobs‚ translating to 56% in the retail sector‚ 1‚398 jobs in the hotel sector translating to 23% and 6‚728 jobs in the private motor sector‚ adding up to 58%.
The total number of jobs saved across all the sectors accounted for a total of 42%.
“The CCMA recorded its highest number in large-scale retrenchment [section 189A] referrals (1‚124) in the 2020/21 financial year compared to any previous financial year. By comparison to the financial year (729)‚ this represented an increase of 54% in large-scale retrenchment referrals. This is indicative of the challenging economic environment that persists‚” the report states.
The report said the sharp increase in section 189A referrals remains a cause for concern.
“However‚ on a slightly positive note‚ large-scale retrenchment activity subsided in the last quarter of the financial year.”
Ngutshane said the CCMA‚ which was tasked with overseeing the administration of the temporary employer/employee relief scheme (Ters)‚ witnessed a hike in workplace-based Ters applications before section 189A processes were considered.
During the reporting period‚ the CCMA received a total of 121 Ters applications. A total of 3‚531 employees benefited from the Ters at a cost of R166.1m.
“It is anticipated that this will alleviate worker distress that may potentially result in retrenchments and business distress that eases the recipient companies’ financial challenges‚” Ngutshane said.
“Essential services are a growing area in South African employment law. Compared with other essential services disciplines globally‚ it has became evident that there is a challenge when it comes to compliance with essential service legislation as part of its statutory obligations.”