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Home > Country profiles > South Africa > Articles > Article detail

Love Thy Labour: Mediation key tool to resolve strife

Thursday, 13th April 2018

"South Africa's labour legislation has come a long way since the advent of our democracy.

A strong emphasis has been placed on industrial peace and the use of statutory structures to try and resolve disputes effectively. The use of mediation (conciliation) has become one of the most fantastic tools used to resolve disputes. 

Many disputes are destructive, negative and appear to be insoluble. Our legislation has implemented a system of conciliation for labour conflict which has proved to be superb. The results coming out of the bargaining councils and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration have been proof of a system that is working. 

Many other countries have sent experts to study our system and I regularly speak to foreign labour lawyers who are astounded when I describe the system to them.

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In essence, conciliation must take place and it is central to everything that follows thereafter. If an employee has discord with his or her employer and the parties have been unable to resolve that issue internally, the first step would be for that employee or the trade union involved to send that dispute to one of the statutory bodies. 

Normally, the CCMA or the bargaining council concerned will then formally set a time, date and place for a conciliation to take place. In essence, this conciliation will be structured with a trained mediator chairing the session. The mediator will hear both sides of the argument and then try to bring the parties closer together. 

The mediator does not have the power to make final and binding decisions but has the power to ensure both sides are heard. 

The words mediator and conciliator are used interchangeably, and this trained official has the aim of trying to create a middle path to ensure that the dispute is not destructive to either party."

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Language: English
Contact: Michael Bagraim

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