A reconstruction of CCMA commissioners' perceptions of dispute resolution in South Africa : a multi-perspective approach
This study focuses on the problems in the dispute resolution system in South Africa. The aim of this study is to explore the perceptions of commissioners of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) regarding the capacity of parties to effectively deal with labour conflict and disputes within the legal framework provided by the Labour Relations Act (LRA) (66195). This includes an investigation into the reasons for the high referral rate of unfair dismissal cases to the CCMA and the influence of the case-overload on the effective functioning of the dispute resolution system. The functionalist and conflict theoretical perspectives are used to study the structural aspects of the dispute resolution system and to explore structural strain. The interactionist perspective is used in the methodology of this study to reconstruct the perceptions of a group of CCMA commissioners. This study is predominantly of a qualitative nature and was conducted in an exploratory manner through in-depth interviews and e-mail questionnaires. Dunlop's open systems approach allowed for the conceptualisation of the major dispute resolution components of the labour relations system. The analysis of the transformation of conflict formed the basis for understanding the background, the problem statement, the aims and assumptions of this study. It was found that the guidelines in Schedule eight of the LRA (66195) have become the norm for dealing with conflict within an enterprise, creating complex and technical processes for dealing with disputes. However, most of the employers and individual employees do not have the knowledge and skills to operate effectively in the system. This has led to a new type of adversarialism in the individual employment relationship, which is based on rights, rules and power. The very technical nature of the internal conflict resolution mechanisms, the incapacity of the parties and the adversarial nature of the labour relationship have resulted in the high referral rate and consequent problems that the CCMA is experiencing.