LLA1430A Dispute Resolution paths


This article explains the different paths used in the Labour Relations Act, 1995 in order to best resolve different types of labour disputes.

The article is part of the book ” A Practitioner’s Guide to Labour Dispute Resolution”. 



This is an extract from this article:

The LRA provides a framework within which employers, employees and unions can resolve their disputes. While the approach was initially touted as being ‘simple’, it has become more legalistic and technical. For example, the LRA provides a dispute resolution path[1]for a particular type of dispute, and if that path is not correctly chosen at the outset, issues of jurisdiction may arise potentially frustrating the resolution of the dispute

[1]                 A dispute resolution path is a description of the order of the processes which a particular dispute is required in terms of the LRA to follow.

While the LRA does not use the terms, the most fundamental distinction is between disputes of ‘interest’ and disputes of ‘right’.

A dispute of right is a dispute in which parties rely on and attempt to enforce rights they have in terms of existing statute, agreement  or common law. For example, the LRA provides that ‘every employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed’ [s 185(a)]. An employee who challenges the fairness of his/her dismissal is therefore relying on a statute- the LRA- which creates the right. Disputes of right are resolved by way of conciliation, or failing that arbitration by a council or CCMA, or adjudication by the Labour Court. In Gauteng Provinsiale Administrasie v Scheepers & others(2000) 21 ILJ 1305 (LAC) the court said that-

“Since a rights dispute must be one about a right or rights, the applicants before the Industrial Court were obliged to show what that right was and where it was located. It could be located in statute, in a collective agreement or in a contract of employment


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