n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the workplace - the South African experience

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), for instance conciliation and arbitration, is often regarded as a better option than the more conventional mechanisms for the settlement of labour disputes, because of the lower cost and greater speed involved. Because it normally requires the consent, and thus the commitment, of the parties involved, it has the potential of presenting a more successful and sustainable solution to labour disputes.

In South Africa, ADR has not only been formalised, but has also been made compulsory as part of the transformation of the South African labour relations system after 1994. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) is one institution that was created with high expectations and is specifically tasked with ADR-type processes.
However, the dispute resolution system of the CCMA is currently under strain due to a very legalistic approach, long delays, and declining settlement rates.
The study considers whether the compulsory conciliation and arbitration processes - as offered by, for instance, the CCMA - are effective in creating a less adversarial labour relationship, and whether there are more appropriate methods to reconcile employer requirements and worker aspirations. This also presents important lessons for dispute resolution in other countries, especially in an African context, where most countries are searching for inexpensive dispute resolution options.

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