Workplace mediation service launched
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) announced the launch of a pilot Workplace Mediation service in the Western Cape fruit sector. Workplace mediation is a process to resolve conflict in the workplace that may arise between the employer and employee(s) or between employees.
In 2012 the Western Cape was rocked by a wave of farm workers’ strikes and protests. The wage-related protests mostly took place in the towns of De Doorns and Worcester with smaller protests in Ceres, Robertson, Grabouw, Wolseley and Villiersdorp.
The initiative is aimed at resolving workplace problems at an early stage prior to disciplinary action being taken or grievances being lodged. The overriding aim of the process is to restore and maintain employment relationships wherever possible by focusing on helping parties to work together to go forward; not determining who was right or wrong in the past.
“It provides employers and employees an opportunity to resolve workplace problems in a less adversarial manner without compromising existing workplace disciplinary and grievance procedures or the right of parties to refer disputes to the CCMA,” the organisation said in a statement.
This initiative is being embarked upon in collaboration with the Fruit Industry Value Chain Round table, a partnership between government and the fruit industry (incorporating trade organisations, business and labour) sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Fruit SA with the aim to foster collaborative industry-government actions that help to secure an enduring competitive advantage of the fruit sector.
The purpose of the pilot, which will run for a period of six months from March to August 2016, is to test the appropriateness of Workplace Mediation as a means to manage conflict in the workplace. The pilot will be limited to the Fruit Sector in the Western Cape, including agriculture and packing with an envisaged phased roll to other fruit producing provinces depending on the evaluation of the pilot.
CCMA Acting Director, Cameron Morejane, said described the initiative as, “a significant measure contributing to the CCMA’s strategic imperative in advancing good practices at work and transforming workplace relations. A key focus area of the CCMA’s new strategic plan Senz’umehluko-making a difference, 2015/2016-2019/2020 is reducing conflict in the workplace which contributes to industry sustainability resulting in employment security, labour market stability and economic growth,” Morejane explained.