Today's Labour News

newsThis news aggregator site highlights South African labour news from a wide range of internet and print sources. Each posting has a synopsis of the source article, together with a link or reference to the original. Postings cover the range of labour related matters from industrial relations to generalist human resources.

news shutterstockIn our Wednesday roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that have appeared since
midday on Tuesday, 17 January 2017.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

State should pay for paramedics' trauma treatment after attacks, says Hospersa

ANA reports that the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of SA (Hospersa) on Tuesday said it wanted the government to pay for the treatment of ambulance staff who have been subjected to attacks on them while responding to calls.  The union, which has written a letter to Western Cape Health MEC on the matter, says there are more than 50 of its members who are receiving post-traumatic stress treatment as a result of such attacks.  It said there were more than 100 cases reported in 2016, and that the frequency of attacks seemed to be rising.  According to Hospersa, affected employees were expected to pay for their treatment because such cases were not covered by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Disease Act.  “We want the MEC to intervene in easing the financial burden on the affected members.  We want the employer to take an active role in ensuring affected members receive the necessary support,” said Hospersa.

Read this report in full at IOL News.  Read Hospersa’s press statement in this regard at SA Labour News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Bus driver flung through windscreen after collision with truck, at The Citizen
  • Video shows Katlehong cop was shot dead by colleague, at Cape Times
  • Tot 10% van werkers toets positief vir dié middels, at Netwerk24 (limited access)
  • Skietdood van Bloem-polisieman in raaisel gehul, at Netwerk24(limited access)


MINING LABOUR

DiamondCorp makes strides in business rescue at Lace diamond mine

Mining Review reports that DiamondCorp has announced it is looking to raise £1 million as part of a plan to assist with its 74% owned Lace diamond mine that has been placed under business rescue.  The mining, development and exploration company added that discussions were on-going between the business rescue practitioner and the company, labour unions and rest of the workforce with regard to care and maintenance work to start.  DiamondCorp further said that an agreement between the business rescue practitioner and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) needed to be finalised in the near term for the group to remain a going concern.

Read this report in full at Mining Review

Other general internet posting(s) on mining

  • Local mining industry sees broad-based decline in November production, at Mining Weekly
  • Decline in mining output to hit GDP, at BusinessLive
  • Iron ore is still going great guns after confounding the market sceptics last year, at BusinessLive
  • Competition authorities approve Kgalagadi Manganese takeover, at Mining Weekly
  • Exxaro concludes R3.6bn share repurchase scheme, at Mining Weekly
  • Rockwell blames poor results on contractor’s ‘malicious legal action’, at BusinessLive
  • Keaton Energy boosted by Vanggatfontein colliery, at Business Report


AGRICULTURE

Duty on EU chicken imports likely to increase to ward off retrenchments

BusinessLive reports that a hike in the safeguard duty on bone-in chicken imports from the EU appears to be a likely outcome of a high-level meeting between the government, business and labour on Tuesday.  The meeting of about 40 representatives of various government departments, industry, trade unions and state entities decided to set up a joint task team to address the short, medium and long-term challenges facing the poultry industry, including devising ways to ward off the imminent retrenchments and plant closures by producers.  Another outcome of the meeting was that the government would negotiate with chicken producers such as RCL Foods to consider ways to avoid plant closures and retrenchments.  RCL plans to retrench 1,355 workers at the end of January.  An interdepartmental government task team has been working on a rescue plan for the industry since mid-November and has accumulated a body of data on the structure of the industry, import penetration, cost drivers, competitiveness and transformation.

Read this report by Linda Ensor in full at BusinessLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Rand Water workers at Sebokeng plant down tools

SABC News reported on Tuesday that workers at the Rand Water sanitation plant in Sebokeng in the Vaal had stopped working, alleginging that management had shortchanged them.  “Since last year December, we have been short with our bonuses and leave days because we went on strike.  So, we spoke to management about this and they say the strike and absenteeism affected our bonuses,” said a striking worker.  The workers have also claimed that half of their workforce has been retrenched unfairly, but the employer disagrees.  Most of the workers are on contract or in temporary jobs.  The Department of Water and Sanitation, as the overall employer, said it was in the process of resolving the matter.

Read this report in full at SABC News


PROTESTS, MARCHES AND BOYCOTTS

Fedusa takes aim at SoEs with Section 77 protest action notice

Engineering News reports that the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) is taking a stand against government’s alleged failure to appoint “suitably qualified, accountable, responsible and responsive” management at some of SA’s vital parastatals.  A notice of intended protest action under Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act has been lodged with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to compel the State-owned enterprises (SoEs) concerned to undergo an independent forensic audit of all board and procurement activities over the past five years and open unhindered access for recognised unions to internal and external audit reports of the past three financial years.  Protest action, including stayaways and go-slows, will be the order of the day at the targeted SoEs, which include SAA, Eskom, Denel and the SABC, pending the appointment of an independent forensic auditor within three months, said Fedusa’s Dennis George on Monday.

Read this report in full at Engineering News.  Read Fedusa’s press statement in this regard at Fedusa online


THE ECONOMY / PRICES / PRODUCTIVITY

IMF flags SA’s skills mix as out of step with economic demands

BusinessLive reports that SA’s inadequate labour market skills mix has been flagged by the IMF as being out of step with the demands of the country’s economy.  The IMF published its updated World Economic Outlook on Monday, in which it estimated SA’s growth at 0.8% in 2017 and 1.6% in 2018.  Growth in 2016 was pegged at 0.3%.  Statistics SA confirmed on Monday that it would publish the 2016 fourth-quarter growth rate in March 2017.  Oya Celasun, chief of the IMF’s world economic studies division, on Monday pointed to the country’s inadequate labour market skills, saying they was incompatible with the economy’s demands.  "More broad-based reform to education and labour are needed," she stated.  Policy uncertainty in the country, again, cropped up as an issue.

Read this report by Asha Speckman in full at BusinessLive.  Read too, IMF says education reform is key in getting SA out of growth slump, at Fin24.  And also, Education and right mix of skills crucial, says Radebe, at Business Report

Consumer inflation picked up pace in December to 6.8%

BusinessLive reports that consumer inflation moved further outside the SA Reserve Bank’s 3%-6% target range in December 2016.  The consumer price index (CPI) increased by 6.8% in December compared with a year earlier, Statistics SA said on Wednesday.  The rate in November was 6.6%.  Between November and December, CPI increased by 0.4%.  Food inflation is still running high in SA, due to the lagged effects of a devastating drought of last year.  Food and nonalcoholic beverages inflation was 11.7% year-on-year in December, picking up slightly from 11.6% in November.  The average inflation for 2016 was 6.4%, which was in line with the expectations of the Reserve Bank. 

Read this report by Pericles Anetos in full at BusinessLive.  See too, Inflation soars to 6.8% in December, at Fin24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • IMF warns that SA’s growth will remain in the doldrums, at SowetanLive


WEALTH GAP / INEQUALITY

Cosatu says inequality gap set to widen further at ‘hands of monopoly capital’

The Citizen reports that, after an Oxfam report revealed that three South Africa’s billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom 50% of the country’s population, Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla expressed the view in an interview that inequality would continue to worsen in SA.  This was said to be because government has kept its hands off the running of the country’s economy, leaving the plight of the poor at the mercy of monopoly capital with its wealth accumulation agenda.  Pamla argued that, since the government was fence-sitting, there has been ongoing consolidation of monopoly capital through mergers and acquisitions in the past few years to form more powerful companies.  In the process, bosses accumulate wealth through increased profits and huge salaries, while workers struggle to make ends meet.  “To counter this, we need a South Africa where the state actively ensures that those on the periphery of the economy are able to participate in growing that economy,” Pamla indicated.  He suggested that SA needed to be a truly developmental state, with a development bank for the poor to access funding.

Read this report by Eric Naki in full at The Citizen.  See too, Inequality worse than at end of apartheid, says Oxfam, at IOL News.  And also, Cosatu ‘disgusted’ by wealth report, calls for international action, at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SA’s rich-poor gap is far worse than feared, says Oxfam inequality report, at BusinessLive
  • Oxfam takes aim at NDP’s economic approach, at BusinessLive
  • A ‘human economy’ needed to tackle problems associated with inequality crisis, at SowetanLive
  • Oxfam SA accuses rich of dodging taxes, using power to influence politics, at EWN


REMUNERATION / FRINGE BENEFITS / PERKS

Grade R teachers in KZN get R500 salary boost to prevent walk-out

Daily News reports that thousands of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Grade R teachers who claimed they were being short-changed by the education department had their salaries bumped up by R500 a month on Sunday night in a last-ditch effort to prevent them walking out of classrooms.  This means that many of the 6,000 Grade R teachers received up to R4,500 in their bank accounts at midnight after the department back-paid them for up to nine months.  Grade R teachers in KZN will now receive a minimum monthly salary of R6,000.  This follows years of negotiations between the province and the National Teachers Union (Natu), which has been demanding that Grade R teachers be paid salaries on par with teachers in other provinces.  Natu believes much more needs to be done to improve benefits and a follow-up meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.

Read this report by Sne Masuku in full at Daily News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • The most in-demand jobs in SA right now and what they pay, at BusinessTech


RETRENCHMENTS / JOB LOSSES

No truth in ‘Vat Alles’ workers losing their jobs, says Tshwane City

Pretoria News reports that the City of Tshwane says that claims that the Democratic Alliance (DA) administration planned to fire general workers who are part of the ‘Vat Alles’ programme are untrue.  City spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said:  “There is another force behind this trying to get the workers to be given full-time jobs.”  Since last week, workers have apparently been harbouring fears of being jobless in six months' time because there are apparently no renewal clauses in their new contracts.  Mashigo rebuffed claims of plans to fire the workers.  Vat Alles is part of the national Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), which offers short-term job opportunities to unemployed people to equip them with job-seeking skills.  Mashigo said the workers had to understand that their jobs were on a contract basis in line with the requirements of the EPWP.

Read this report by Rapula Moatshe in full at Pretoria News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


EDUCATION

Strike threat by Limpopo teachers over non-delivery of stationery and better conditions

The New Age reports that teachers affiliated to the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) have threatened to embark on a protest against the provincial education department next week to press for the delivery of stationery and better working conditions.  "Unless the department delivers all stationery and textbooks to schools, teachers will hit the streets on January 26 to protest.  We also demand the payment of all teachers for promotional posts and performance management bonuses.  We demand extension of contracts of temporary teachers," provincial secretary Matome Raphasha said.  This comes as hundreds of schools in the province have not received stationery despite promises to supply all schools before the start of the first term.  On temporary teachers, department spokesperson Dr Naledzani Rasila said contracts were being renewed or terminated depending on the need for such services and that each contract needed to be treated on its merit.  The department said it was open for queries regarding payments of teachers.

Read this report by Montsho Matlala in full on page 23 of The New Age of 17 January 2017

ANCYL in North West says stricter vetting of teachers needed to improve performance

The New Age reports that the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in North West has called upon relevant authorities in the education sector to apply strict vetting systems before employing teachers.  It said this was to improve the performance of the province at matric level.  Provincial spokesperson Tshiamo Tsotetsi said an investigation into the calibre of matric teachers was long overdue after a report by renowned academic and Umalusi head Prof John Volmink found that the appointment of about 85% of teachers in the North West's education department was heavily influenced by Sadtu.  "We do appreciate the work teachers have done to improve the performance of schools because we have a higher pass rate than last year," Tsotetsi said.  "However, the more competent teachers we have, the better the results we will achieve and the first step would be to address these reports of corruption."

Read this report by David Sithole on page 10 of The New Age of 17 January 2017


TRAINING / COLLEGES

Nzimande orders an overhaul of vocational college sector

BusinessLive reports that Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has directed the SA Qualifications Authority (Saqa) and the quality councils to clean up their act in a bid to overhaul the vocational college sector, which has been beset by myriad problems including policy incoherence.  Universities tend to be better run and equipped than their vocational college peers, which are riddled with inadequately trained lecturers, woeful infrastructure and a lack of funds.  Last Friday, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) published a draft policy document on technical and vocational training institutions in the government gazette.  Therein Saqa and the quality councils were called upon to work on policy formulation and co-ordination to clean up the sector’s image and turn it into a viable alternative for students.  As a first step, they have to agree on a common and cohesive policy framework in terms of standards for vocational colleges.  This comes as the IMF has again warned that SA’s labour market skills mix is inadequate for the country’s economic needs

Read this report by Khulekani Magubane in full at BusinessLive.  Read too, Frustration over operational issues at country’s colleges, on page 5 of Sunday independent of 15 January 2017

Planned job cuts at TVET colleges in KZN will affect quality of teaching, says Sadtu

ANA reports that the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) on Monday warned that job cuts at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges in KwaZulu-Natal would affect the quality of teaching and learning.  The union claimed that 136 lecturers and 36 support staff have already been served with letters telling them their jobs have been terminated.  The union said in a statement:  “Although it’s common knowledge that the number of employees in their staff establishment is informed by the number registered students, it remains unacceptable that one of these colleges, Coastal College, surpassed all by shamelessly putting 102 employees out in the cold.”  The union further noted that the Department of Higher Education and Training had promised the TVET principals that their 2016/17 funding would be maintained in the 2017/2018 financial year.  Sadtu indicated that it would call a special meeting with all affected workers “for preparation of confrontation with the employers in this sector.”

Read this report in full at The Citizen.  Read Sadtu’s press statement in this regard at Politicsweb

Safetsa intends to shut down 265 TVET college campuses by Thursday

The Citizen reports that the SA Further Education and Training Student Association (Safetsa) intends to shut down the 265 campuses of all 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges country-wide by Thursday morning.  This was announced at a press briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday by Safetsa president Yonke Twani.  He said the decision was taken at the body’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting on 8 December last year, where SRC members from 50 colleges were present.  According to Safetsa, the only thing that would put a stop to the shutdown would be if the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) signed an agreement to immediately solve the following critical issues: delay of results and pending certificates since 2012; insufficient NSFAS funding and the delay of accommodation and transport allowances; poor infrastructure development; unqualified lecturers; and student victimisation.

Read this report by Virginia Keppler in full at The Citizen.  Read too, Students to shut TVET colleges, at TimesLive

Tanker torched at Delmas in protest over lack of TVET college in area

The New Age reports that the situation was calm in Botleng township and the neighbouring areas of Delmas on Tuesday following a violent protest on Monday morning.  Residents went on the rampage demanding that a technical and vocational education and training (TVET) college be built in the township as in other neighbouring municipalities.  The protest saw a tanker travelling on the N12 being hijacked and set alight by the protesters after they blockaded the national road.  They also blocked other alternative routes such as the R42 and R555 with burning tyres, rocks and other objects.  There were no injuries reported during the unrest after a large number of police were despatched to monitor the situation.

Read this report by France Nyaka in full at The New Age

Crackdown in Joburg on bogus colleges

The New Age reports that, as unsuspecting students continue to fall prey to bogus colleges, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has embarked on a week-long inspection campaign aimed at enforcing compliance and clamping down on unregistered colleges.  The crackdown started in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, which is one of the hot spots for these colleges.  “To our surprise, the guys we found not complying last year are complying this year.  We are pleased to know that the awareness has reached everyone,” Dr Shaheeda Essack of the DHET said.  She indicated that the department had opened cases with the police to clamp down on the fake colleges.  Essack urged students to verify the credentials of private colleges with the department by contacting its call centre on 0800872222.

Read this report by Batandwa Malingo in full at The New Age.  See too, Joburg principal aghast at his phoney college bust, at TimesLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Alexandra college’s financial woes leave students hanging in the balance, at The Citizen
  • Some matric markers concerned about not being compensated for exam scripts, at The Citizen


EMPLOYEE BENEFIT FUNDS

Cosatu welcomes changes to Unemployment Insurance Act

The Citizen reports that union federation Cosatu has welcomed the signing of the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Act into law, saying it would benefit thousands of jobless workers and mothers going on maternity leave.  Cosatu parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks said they only regretted that it took “four long years for government to pass this very progressive and badly needed law”.  The law will see the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefit period increased from 238 to 365 days, with maternity benefit up to 66% instead of 42% as is presently the case.  Amongst other amendments, members of the Government Employees’ Pension Fund will be covered for UIF and maternity leave benefits.  “The labour department has to announce when the new act will come into effect,” Parks said.

Read this report by Eric Naki in full at The Citizen


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

Nationalise SA Reserve Bank, Cosatu tells government

ANA reports that Cosatu on Tuesday called on government to nationalise the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb).  The labour federation was responding to a leaked preliminary report by the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, on the involvement of banking group Absa in an apartheid bail out from 1985 to 1995.  Absa has defended itself against the allegations made in the report.  In a statement, Cosatu said there was need for a Commission of Inquiry to get to the bottom of the matter.  The federation went on to state:  “This report raises the role of Sarb in facilitating the siphoning of money by the private sector and thereby prejudicing the public purse.  This matter raises the question of the independence of the Reserve Bank.  We need to nationalise [the] Reserve Bank, because it seems like it is hiding the rot and insulating banks from scrutiny."  On Monday, Sarb governor Lesetja Kganyago said he was studying the Public Protector's report into Absa and had already found inaccuracies in it.  He said he would give extensive feedback later this week.

Read this report by Siphelele Dludla in full at Business Report.  Read Cosatu’s statement in this regard at Cosatu Today

Cosatu urges government to help municipalities indebted to Eskom

ANA reports that Cosatu said on Tuesday that national government had a duty to intervene and help municipalities owing billions of rands to Eskom.  The labour federation urged government to work with Eskom and the defaulting municipalities to find a compromise, instead of cutting off electricity and plunging many communities into darkness.  "Eskom's decision will have a negative effect on our already struggling economy and contribute to more retrenchments.  Cutting electricity may result in businesses such as farms and mines retrenching workers, when we cannot afford to lose a single job," Cosatu said in a statement.  The federation went on to state:  "National government cannot allow these municipalities to deal with this problem alone; it has a responsibility of ensuring affordability, especially for poor households.  As a result of rising unemployment, incomes for the majority have virtually stagnated in real terms."

Read this report in full at Business Report.  Read Cosatu’s press statement in this regard at Cosatu Today

 

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