Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana has confirmed to the public that the services of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) are free to anyone who wishes to use them.
The Minister's statement follows media reports which stated that lawyers, labour consultants and bogus trade unions had been touting for business outside CCMA offices.
The Minister emphasised that there was no need for any person requiring assistance from the CCMA to involve legal counsel or a consultant.
According to him, legal representation was only allowed under very specific conditions (never during the conciliation phases) and labour consultants had no right of representation at formal CCMA hearings.
"And it is the duty of Commissioners to ensure these rules are adhered to," added the Minister. "CCMA staff are trained to provide assistance and provide direction to any applicant. The staff are also obliged to explain to applicants what their rights are and provide any assistance in completing forms," the Minister added.
Minister Mdladlana added that should lawyers advise applicants that they needed to pay for services, that would constitute as unethical behaviour and the applicant should lodge a complaint with the Law Society of South Africa.
The Minister said people who approached the CCMA were usually under considerable strain and it was unacceptable for legal and consultancy businesses to take advantage of them under these circumstances.