Business South Africa welcomes the tabling of the Labour Relations Amendment Bill and supports its objectives. In particular, Business South Africa supports those measures designed to improve dispute resolution functions of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration ("CCMA") and Bargaining Councils.

Business South African has a number of proposals that address technical rather than substantive matters, and submits these to the Committee for its consideration in an endeavour to improve the wording of the Bill.

The introduction of the 90-day time limit within which disputes must be referred to the Labour Court for adjudication or to the CCMA for arbitration is effected by an amendment to section 136 of the Labour Relations Act (see clause 9 of the Amendment Bill) and the amendment introduced in clause 25. This formulation may mislead parties wanting to refer dismissal disputes to arbitration. When a dispute must be referred to arbitration rather than to the Labour Court, there is no reference to the 90-day time limit in section 191. This concern could be overcome by the introduction of a footnote, in section 191, referring parties to the provisions of section 136. This would involve an administrative correction to the Bill, since footnotes are not considered part of the Act, but would effectively alert parties to the applicable time limits.

2 AD CLAUSE 28(2)
This clause amends Schedule 7 of the Labour Relations Act by entitling the Minister to authorise the CCMA to perform the functions of the Industrial Court. A concern has been raised that item 22A(2)(b) does not sufficiently clearly express the intention of this amendment. The item refers to "those matters" without any direct reference to the preceding item 22A(2)(a). It is proposed that item 22A(2)(b) be amended to read-
"(b) does not empower the commission to perform any of the Industrial Court's functions with regard to pending matters referred to in paragraph (a)"

3 Business South Africa supports the continued revision of the Labour Relations Act and other principle labour statutes to ensure their continued appropriateness in a dynamic labour market. Although the amendments proposed in this Bill will achieve that end, particularly by ensuring greater efficiency in the statutory dispute resolution mechanisms, Business South Africa will continue to review, the substantive provisions of the Labour Relations Act and develop views on the appropriateness of further amendments.