Happy with the CCMA

We’ve all had one of those occasions when we feel like a fish out of water; at a social occasion, surrounded by the leading lights of the field – the legal fraternity and practitioners – completely unable to participate in the conversation. What were they discussing? Was it the finer points of third generation “in-sourcing”, or the design origins of the latest BMW range, or the merits of top-of-range wines at the last Nederberg auction? No – they were sharing experiences and complaints about the CCMA.

Can I be missing the point? I have no adverse stories to tell about the CCMA. Granted I don’t have reason to attend that often and the last time I went, they were re-furbishing, so there was a shortage of chairs. However, to stand for a few moments was a minor inconvenience.

The receptionists – and there have been a few – have been unfailingly polite. Surrounded by a sea of faces, some who’ve never attended before and don’t know where the loo is; to seasoned practitioners - known by name, carrying thick black leather well-worn briefcases, striding off down the corridor, knowing exactly which direction to take for Room 206, or any other number allocated to their matter, the receptionist deals with the people present and those on the telephone in a pleasant and helpful manner.

Of course commissioners range in style as much as they do in race, gender, age and other distinguishing characteristics; however every one I’ve ever dealt with, has followed appropriate procedures and been as effective as they could given the circumstances. This statement holds true for conciliations, arbitrations or mutual interest mediations.

Is this a function of my expectations? Well, I do hold the view that simply having to be at the CCMA is an indication of management failure.

What! You cannot be serious! How can you make that statement?

Well, let’s examine why we end up at the CCMA.

My argument is as follows:
The employer selects employees, the employer offers the contract of employment, the employer sets out the rules and the requirements of the position. The employer has the legal responsibility to give guidance, instruction, counselling and training, as appropriate.

If all this is done appropriately for every employee, and the employee receives appropriate and timeous performance management, we should not have Incapacity: poor performance terminations leading to CCMA applications.

If an employee has the opportunity to misappropriate items, products or money, is this not a failure of management, the internal control processes, security systems, and risk management generally?

If there are social problems, such as alcohol and drug abuse, is this not a failure of management in the recruitment process, or later in long-standing employees, in observing the signs and introducing appropriate supportive measures?

If there is a need to retrench for economic, structural or technological reasons, is this not a failure to manage the business and the balance of recruitment and natural attrition, or alternatively if this is not possible - the expectations of employees via the detailed consultative processes legislated?

Are matters of mutual interest which lead to disputes, lock-outs, strikes not a failure of management to understand the needs of their employees, the desperate circumstances in which their employees live, particularly to explain why it is necessary for CEOs to earn 300 times what their shop-floor worker does?

Is everything the failure of labour law – or is the problem the failure of management?

Happy with the CCMA