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Don't go straight to the CCMA - try a bargaining council first

by , 07 March 2013
Nothing's above the law - even the law itself, it seems. The Free Market Foundation has just launched a constitutional challenge against sections of the Labour Relations Act that allow for collective agreements made in bargaining councils to be extended to non-member employers and employees, says the TimesLive. But you may need to face a bargaining council sooner than you think...

You've heard lots about the CCMA, but did you know it's often easier to take labour issues to a bargaining council first?
 
Bargaining councils have come under the spotlight recently, with the Business Day's BD Live website reporting that the Labour Relations Act shouldn't allow for bargaining councils' collective agreements to extend beyond the parties affected.
 
And before you know it, a disgruntled employee could have you facing a bargaining council.
 
Because under the Labour Relations Act, bargaining councils conclude agreements, resolve labour disputes, make proposals on labour policies, and more – so bargaining councils cover almost every aspect of labour law, according to the Department of Labour website.
 
That's why it's more likely a case will come before a bargaining council before it goes to the CCMA.
 
The CCMA website explains that it generally doesn't deal with bargaining council matters – instead, the CCMA trains, accredits and subsidises bargaining councils to empower bargaining councils to perform their own dispute resolution functions. 
 
So when will you face a bargaining council?
 
Here's when you'll face a bargaining council
 
For example, failure to comply with correct procedure when you conduct a disciplinary hearing – especially if the result is that you dismiss the employee – could result in your employee taking you to the CCMA or bargaining council on grounds of unfair dismissal, says FSP Business.
 
And by law, employees can challenge a written warning at the CCMA or at a bargaining council.
 
It adds that trade unions are also legally obliged to issue a dispute to the CCMA or bargaining council before your employees go on strike.
 
But you can also approach a bargaining council yourself. 
 
They're there to promote labour peace by providing a central negotiating forum for the negotiation and implementation of conditions of employment.
 
That's why you have to stick to your bargaining council agreement in your remuneration policy if you're covered by one to prevent further disgruntled employees, says the Labour Bulletin.
 
That's a lot of action.
 
There are more bargaining councils than ever before to cover every aspect of the Labour Relations Act!
 
That's why the South African Labour Guide has just updated its list of bargaining councils in February. There are 48 bargaining councils in South Africa and three statutory councils, covering almost every industry.
 
Make sure you keep proof of how you've handled all labour issues so that you have a solid case, whether it goes to a bargaining council or straight to the CCMA.

 


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