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Nerine Kahn fights

There is a rare breed of people who dedicate their lives to fighting for the rights of others and Nerine Kahn is one of them.

As Director of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) she is dedicated to promoting social justice

and economic development in the workplace. Kahn spoke to Noluthando Mkhize about her role in helping people who have been treated unfairly to have their voices heard.

Kahn and her organisation work to ensure that issues related to industrial relations and challenges in the labour market are addressed.

The CCMA provides a platform for workers who want to raise issues they have with their employers.

“Its important that every South African knows that if they get dismissed from their work [unfairly] they can come to the CCMA for assistance,” she says.

Implementing the law Recently, the Department of Labour amended the Labour Relations Act (LRA)

of 1995 and the Employment Equity Act (EEA) of 1998. It is the CCMA’s role to implement these legislations.

The amended LRA, among others, provides more protection for temporary workers in cases of abuse or unfair dismissal.

Kahn is particularly excited about employment equity because previously the CCMA was unable to arbitrate cases related to discrimination.

“When it came to discrimination cases the organisation could only conciliate and not arbitrate. Any other case that follows on from that had to go to the Labour Court.

The problem with this is that it’s expensive. “People who felt discriminated against were unable to actually exert their right properly but now, from 1 August 2014, if you earn below R205 433 you can bring your case to the CCMA not only for conciliation but also arbitration.”

Up until then, the CCMA referrals on discrimination comprised about seven per cent of the organisation’s total caseloads. She added that of the 170 000 cases

that the CCMA dealt with in the last financial year 86 per cent concerned cases of unfair dismissal

and misconduct, and seven per cent were related to discrimination.

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