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| Planning a Strike | Employment Equity Act |

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration ("CCMA") was established to help resolve labour disputes. It is an independent body with jurisdiction in all the provinces. It is not controlled by the state, although it is publicly funded and it may receive grants, donations and bequests.

The main function of the CCMA is to try to resolve disputes through conciliation. If conciliation fails, the CCMA may resolve the dispute through arbitration

A matter can be arbitrated if:

The CCMA may also give advice on the procedure to be followed in a dispute, and may help a party obtain legal advice, representation or assistance. It can also advise on disciplinary procedures, dismissal procedures, prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, affirmative action and so on.

The CCMA also deals with mutual interest disputes, freedom of association, dismissals, collective agreements, workplace forums and unfair labour practices.
The case cannot be referred to the CCMA if:

Referring a dispute

You have 30 days from the date on which the dispute arose to open an unfair dismissal dispute case. With discrimination cases, you have six months.

You must complete a CCMA case referral form and deliver a copy to the other party by fax, registered mail, courier or hand delivery. (These forms are obtainable at the CCMA offices, the Department of Labour and the CCMA website).

You may deliver the referral form to the CCMA in person, by fax or post. You must enclose proof that the form has been served on the other party.

The CCMA will inform both parties of the date, time and venue of the first hearing. The conciliation hearing may be attended by the parties to the dispute, trade union or employer organisation representatives (if a party to the dispute is a member), and the CCMA Commissioner. Legal representation is not allowed. If conciliation fails, the Commissioner will issue a certificate of outcome and may refer the matter to the CCMA for arbitration.

For an arbitration hearing, you must complete a request for arbitration form. This follows the same procedures as referring a matter for conciliation. You must apply for arbitration within three months from the date on which the Commissioner issued the certificate. The parties may cross-examine each other and legal representation may be allowed. The commissioner will make a final and binding arbitration award within 14 days. If there is non-compliance with the arbitration award, it may be made an order of court.

[For further information on the CCMA, visit]

Members of the Mallinicks Women's Forum write the articles, which offer basic legal advice.
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