POLITICS

CCMA budget cuts crippling - COSATU

Federation prepares urgent memo to Cabinet urging their reversal

COSATU has prepared an urgent memo to the Cabinet for the immediate reversal of the CCMA budget cuts

24 March 2021

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has prepared an urgent memo to Cabinet for the immediate reversal of the CCMA budget cuts. The protection and promotion of fair labour rights in South Africa is enshrined in the Constitution. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), the entity that is mandated by law to oversee labour disputes is under imminent threat because of the drastic cuts to its funding in the 2021/22 budget as well as over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

 COSATU has prepared this urgent memo to Cabinet through the Minister of Employment and Labour to explain organised labour’s call for the immediate reversal of these draconian budget cuts to the CCMA in the interest of protecting workers’ hard won labour rights.

The CCMA has been the worst affected labour market institution with regards to budget cuts as the CCMA grapples with the overwhelming caseloads.

 Even though the CCMA is currently doing everything possible to function under these crippling conditions, it is workers who will suffer the most as employers make use of the CCMA’s weaknesses to exploit and unfairly dismiss workers. Financial resources are vital for the success of the CCMA to satisfactorily provide conciliation, mediation and arbitration. The budget cuts on the CCMA are seen by COSATU and other unions and workers as a new wave of attacks on worker’s rights to labour protection.

 Since the 1st December 2020, the CCMA has reduced the services of the part-time commissioners and has only been functioning with full time commissioners. These excessive cuts are forcing the CCMA to reduce the number of Commissioners employed, thus not only contributing to the ranks of the unemployed directly, but lengthening delays in workers’ cases being heard by the CCMA.  These delays will result in thousands of workers giving up and simply walking away and accepting the loss of their jobs and rights.

 The CCMA has already been forced to cancel conciliation services, the first step to resolve workplace disputes in a manner that seeks to preserve and restore the relationship between employer and employee.

 The CCMA has also been compelled to reduce walk in services disadvantaging thousands of workers.

 These cuts to the CCMA’s budget and capacity come as the CCMA battles to cope with a flood of workers seeking help as millions face abuses, lost wages and their jobs.

COSATU is calling on Cabinet and Treasury to immediately reverse the budgets cuts to the CCMA. The rights of workers are silently being reversed through the implementation of such budget cuts.

 The Federation is requesting Cabinet and Treasury to develop a task team with organised labour and business to investigate alternative sources of funding for the CCMA.  These may come from the SETAs and other possible sources.

 Issued by COSATU, 24 March 2021