n South African Journal of Labour Relations - Understanding conflict in labour dispute resolution : forum

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0379-8410
  • E-ISSN: 2520-3223



Although the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (LRA) has brought statutory dispute resolution mechanisms and processes within reach of the ordinary worker, it may actually have compounded the problems relating to dispute resolution in the country. The problem is that the CCMA is so overburdened with cases that its effective functioning has become questionable. <br> The reason is that conflict in this country is not dealt with as it should be. Successful resolution of disputes relating to individual employees requires a proper understanding of conflict and the internal mechanisms - grievance and disciplinary procedures - for dealing with such conflict. It can further be said that the dispute resolution system actually prevents parties to a dispute from exploring other, or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods. Dispute resolution in terms of the LRA places a lot of emphasis on substantive and procedural fairness in the current conciliation and arbitration procedures. However, such a rigid and regulated system causes other very important concepts such as loyalty, trust and friendship - concepts basic to sound interpersonal and therefore employee relationships - to become irrelevant. <br> This article focuses on conflict in the work context, specifically in so far as individual employees are concerned. The escalation and formalisation of conflict over time will be analysed and the point will be made that conflict can only be dealt with once it has manifested. If the disciplinary and grievance procedures were used as mechanisms to deal with conflict rather than either being ignored or simply being regarded as a formality for the termination of employment, more disputes would be resolved internally and fewer cases would be referred to the CCMA. Alternative ways of dealing with conflict will be discussed and the new definition of ADR will be explored.

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