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For many years employees at the various embassies did not have recourse to local labour law and industrial relations. Now, in terms of department of international relations & co-operation protocols disputes are handled in terms of a document known as “Policy on the Management of Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges in the Republic of SA”.
This document specifically outlines in part 5 how disputes must be handled. In essence, local employees can refer their dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). This would be done directly to the CCMA using the prescribed form customised by the CCMA for people employed by missions in SA.
The CCMA will take a statement from the complainant and submit it to the department, which will present it to the mission. The director of immunities & privileges will receive the document from the CCMA and call in the deputy head of the relevant mission for consultation. Thereafter the mission will be requested to do everything reasonably possible to try to resolve the dispute.
The structure will be followed, and if not resolved will be sent to the CCMA for an advisory arbitration award. Should the mission not follow this award it will be sent back to the CCMA, which will schedule the dispute for a hearing. The CCMA will issue the award, which will be forwarded under a diplomatic note to the mission, with the request that it comply with the award pursuant to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations from 1961.
Michael Bagraim, MPDA shadow deputy employment & labour minister
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