Following the Director of the CCMA, Mr. Cameron Morajane, taking to Facebook on 8 May where the manner in which the CCMA would commence operations was explained, a directive was issued this evening where the operating procedure was codified.
The Director repeatedly confirmed during his video conference on Facebook that the CCMA was going to open its doors to the public on 18 May 2020, it is unfortunate that this was not confirmed in writing in the directive.
Notwithstanding, the directive stipulates the conditions under which matters will proceed from the 18th, which can be briefly summarised as follows:
Conciliations: Where possible, the resolution of disputes through Conciliation, subject to different conditions that may apply to conciliation hearings linked to certain matters of mutual interest or ‘public interest’ disputes, will take place telephonically or through a digital online platform that is to the satisfaction of the CCMA or the Commissioner. Choice of the form of communication will also depend on that which is available to both parties and to the CCMA.
Applications: Application proceedings, unless directed otherwise by the Commission or Commissioner, will not be scheduled for oral hearings in an open hearing venue. Where application proceedings cannot be dealt with in terms of written submissions, these will be dealt with by video conferencing facilities.
In circumstances where oral evidence is required, and one or more Parties are unable to access one or more form of electronic communication, the CCMA may direct that the matter be heard on a date when conditions related to the Covid-19 pandemic allow for the Parties to attend a hearing in person, or in a way that the Commissioner may prescribe.
Arbitrations: Pre-arbitration proceedings will be compulsory, and parties must reach consensus on, inter alia, the following:
- Whether the Parties are prepared to proceed with the arbitration hearing at the employer’s premises.
- Whether the Parties are prepared to proceed with the arbitration hearing by means of a video conferencing facility.
As per CCMA Rule 19, the CCMA may direct the requesting Party to deliver a statement of the case that sets out the material facts upon which the Party relies and the legal issues that arise from the material facts; and may direct the responding Party to deliver an answering statement within a specified time period. Parties may also be requested to attempt to reach an agreement on what oral evidence may be delivered by statement, or where possible, by affidavit.
The above measures will need to be observed prior to the arbitration matter being scheduled for hearing.
CEO advises its members that regardless of whether you receive a notice of cancellation or not, if you have a dispute scheduled at the CCMA for the week 11-15 May 2020, the matter will not proceed and you will not be permitted to enter the CCMA premises. We will, however, commence preparation of all matters scheduled from 18 May from Monday.
Finally, although the Director was of the opinion that members of the public may attend at the CCMA premises from 18 May, either to refer new disputes or to attend pre-scheduled matters without a permit, we are not convinced that this may be done lawfully under the current regulatory dispensation. We will be advising our members of any developments in this regard during the course of the week.
Furthermore, we await the status of the various Bargaining Council’s dispute resolution departments as to their status, but we are of the opinion that they will follow the provisions of the CCMA directive.