The answer to this question is “Yes”. This process is called “pre-conciliation” which is a voluntary process through which parties are assisted to resolve disputes telephonically by a CCMA commissioner or a case manager.
In terms of Rule 12 of the CCMA, a commissioner may contact the parties to try and resolve the dispute, before the conciliation date, which in some cases the parties has not yet received notification of. The purpose of this rule is to give effect to the functions, duties and obligations of the CCMA set out in section 191(4) of the Labour relations Act in which the CCMA is required to attempt to resolve a dispute through conciliation.
The primary role of the commissioner is to help the parties resolve their dispute themselves by devising a process that they deem appropriate. It is not required for the parties to be contacted in writing or for a meeting to be convened, whereas a telephone call will suffice. This is mostly done with one party present at the CCMA and depending on the nature and complexity of the dispute, the prospect of the matter being resolved.
It is important to note that this action is not peremptory as it merely affords discretion to the CCMA or commissioner to seek to resolve a dispute before conciliation, in the manner provided for.
Should the pre-conciliation be successful, a settlement agreement will be drafted and sent through to the parties for signing. However, if the matter remains unsettled, a certificate of non-resolution will be issued if the CCMA is satisfied that all reasonable attempts have been made to conciliate the dispute.
In conclusion, the whole purpose of conciliation is to resolve disputes by agreement between the employer and the employee. The parties are in control of the outcome of the conciliation process, and more often than not, it requires compromises from both sides in order for a dispute to be resolved at conciliation.
Kindly ensure that you contact the CEO office in your region, should you receive a request for a pre-conciliation discussion so that our officials can guide you through the process.
Article by: Erenst Du Toit
Provincial Manger – Pretoria