More powers for CCMA?

Amendments will allow the commission to deal with cases pertaining to sexual harassment.

FILE: Proposed legal amendments will allow the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to arbitrate deal with cases pertaining to sexual harassment. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Proposed legal amendments will allow the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to deal with cases pertaining to sexual harassment.

This was revealed by the commission's Eleanor Hambidge on Talk Radio 702's The Redi Tlhabi Show on Monday.

Currently, conciliation is handled by the Labour Court but does not cover arbitration.

Hambridge referred to the dismissal of a 23-year-old communications intern working at the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature.

Reports say Londiwe Sukazi's mentor, communications officer Wesley Canham, asked her for hugs, kisses and massages.

Although Sukazi successfully charged Canham with sexual harassment, he appealed and was reinstated to his position.

Hambridge says sexual harassment in the workplace is a common occurrence as in Sukazi's case.

However, she stressed that crimes of a sexual nature are not restricted to just one sex.

"Women are not only sex objects and no-one has the right to make comments on the way we look or the way we dress. The same goes for female managers who sexually harass male subordinates."

She says sexual harassment ranges from inappropriate emails to rape and includes anything of a sexual nature that makes one feel uncomfortable.

"In a case of rape, the victim is able to make a criminal case against the perpetrator. There is however an obligation on the employer to make a workplace a safe environment."

She says the first step to dealing with sexual harassment is to involve managers in an attempt to escalate the situation.

"It's sometimes hard for the victim to report sexual harassment because if you are a junior employee, you are concerned about your job. My advice is that you have to deal with it, the sooner the better."