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 Thursday roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that have appeared since
midday on Wednesday, 17 May 2017.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Female Metrorail staffer pushed by commuters, breaks arm

ANA reports that a female Metrorail access controller, who was pushed to the ground by a group of free riders, is nursing a broken arm and bruises.  The 37-year-old staffer was trying to prevent the rowdy group of seven from leaving the Benoni station without paying for their ride on Tuesday when she was pushed to the ground.  “I am humiliated. I am sore. I fell on my stomach with my left hand underneath me, after a lady started to pull and push me with six men helping her,” said Nonny Tladi, a member of the United National Transport Union (Untu).  The incident happened on Tuesday at 7am.  Now Tladi’s union has taken up the matter.  Untu insists it is Prasa’s responsibility to make Tladi’s work environment safe.  On Wednesday, acting Untu general secretary, Eddie de Klerk, said his union had submitted an application to the Western Cape High Court for a court order to force Prasa to fulfil its obligation to employee safety.  The union wants the court to compel Prasa to improve safety on the notorious central line between Cape Town and Langa in the Western Cape.

Read this report in full at eNCA.  Read Untu’s press statement in this regard at Untu online

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

Deputy Minster tells cops to get fit for the job, at DispatchLive


MINING LABOUR

Explosion in disused Free State mine claims more lives

TMG Digital reports that the death toll after an explosion at a disused mine in the Free State has risen to 29.  Late last week there was an underground explosion at the mine that was previously owned by Harmony Gold.  Police said that by noon on Wednesday, 29 bodies had been recovered.  Survivors said more bodies were still underground.  A Free State police spokesperson said 11 illegal miners, who came out of a mine shaft while the bodies were being retrieved‚ had been arrested and were currently in police custody.  Among the dead are Zimbabweans‚ Mozambicans and at least one Lesotho national.

A short report is at BusinessLive.  See too, Another body of illegal miner found in Free State, at SABC News.  And also, Search continues for more illegal miners trapped at Welkom mine, at News24

North West man gets one-year sentence for illegal mining

News24 reports that a 62-year-old man has been sentenced to one year in prison for illegal mining and the unlawful possession of unpolished diamonds in the Schweizer-Reneke District Court in North West.  Bernhard van Niekerk was given the option of paying a R50,000 fine as an alternative to jail when he appeared in court on Tuesday.  The Hawks arrested Van Niekerk in December, following a tip-off about illegal mining on a cattle farm near Vryburg.  He was arrested during a raid on the farm, after being found with four unpolished diamonds with an estimated value of R14,000 in his possession.  The suspect appeared in court on the day of his arrest, but was released on bail before making a series of subsequent appearances in court.

A short report by Nation Nyoka is at News24.  See too, Man sentenced for illegal mining, at eNCA

Trans Hex places Bloeddrif on care and maintenance, in talks with NUM

Mining Weekly reports that the Trans Hex Group on Wednesday confirmed that it had placed its Bloeddrif mine, in the Richtersveld region of the Northern Cape, on care and maintenance.  Earlier this week, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) condemned the “sudden closure” of the mine and claimed that the diamond miner had informed its 110 members there of the mine’s closure at “the eleventh hour”.  Trans Hex, however, said Bloeddrif has been a marginal operation for a number of years, as it has approached the end of its viable life-of-mine and that the NUM was kept regularly informed of the circumstances.  Bloeddrif is part of Trans Hex’s ageing Lower Orange River (LOR) operations and currently employs 115 employees.  All employees were formally briefed about the mine’s closure by members of management on 16 May.  They will continue to receive full pay while the company undertakes the necessary statutory processes of engagement and consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the NUM and representatives of non-unionised employees.  The company indicated that it would engage in a full process of consultation with the NUM before any decision on potential retrenchments is taken.

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly

Other labour/community posting(s) in this news category

  • Cosatu welcomes compensation for Lily mine victims’ families, at The Citizen
  • CRG considering asset sale; reaches agreement with workers to end strike, at Mining Weekly
  • Richtersveld’s R45m payout, at The New Age

Other general internet posting(s) on mining

  • Rise in mining outcome may offset recession, at BusinessLive
  • Platinum output grinds lower, but not fast enough to boost prices, at Moneyweb
  • Man gevonnis oor onwettige diamante, at Netwerk24 (limit on access)
  • Lynne Brown drawn into Guptas’ Optimum coal saga, at BusinessLive


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

Prasa employee to get 8% salary increase after agreement with unions

Netwerk24 reports that the United National Transport Union (Untu) has accepted the final salary increase offer made by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), under which Metrorail falls.  Untu represents most of Prasa’s employees, who originally demanded a double-digit increase when negotiations began in February.  In terms of the agreement, new medical aid brokers will be appointed, while no employees be retrenched in the current financial year.  Untu’s Eddie de Klerk commented that “the harsh reality is that Prasa has been a terrible employer to its employees in recent years, not implementing collective agreements and denying employees’ rights that they are entitled to.”  Nonetheless, after the Prasa management negotiating team continued to play cat and mouse with Labour’s negotiating teams, it was the newly appointed Acting Chief Executive Officer of Prasa, Lindikhaya Zide, “who did the honourable thing”.  Zide said job losses would be on the cards, but that he had convinced the Prasa board to include a no retrenchment undertaking for this financial year after Labour refused to accept any agreement whatsoever without insuring that no members were left without jobs. (Loosely translated from Afrikaans)

Read this report by Francois Williams in full in Afrikaans at Netwerk24.  Read Untu’s press statement in this regard at Untu online


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

SAA cabin crew looking to resume their strike next week

BusinessLive reports that SA Airways (SAA) cabin crew members are seeking to resume a strike over meal allowances as early as next week.  The SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) says that it is waiting for the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to issue a strike certificate on its demands for an increased meal allowance.  SAA had to cancel 50 flights during a one-day strike in April by cabin crew.  SAA won an interdict against the strike on the same day, but the court apparently made its ruling on technical grounds.  Meantime, the airline’s other unions said on Wednesday that they were also considering industrial action to pressure the airline into discussing wage increases that were due in April.  The United Association of SA’s (Uasa’s) Jannem Goussard said the union was seeking its own dispute due to lack of response from management, but they were not yet considering a strike.

Read this report by Karl Gernetzky in full at BusinessLive


YOUTH EMPLOYMENT

Unions renew calls for youth employment tax scheme to be scrapped

BusinessLive reports that trade unions have made renewed calls for the scrapping of the Employment Tax Incentive four years after its launch.  The scheme, which has paid qualifying employers R6.3bn in claims between 2014 and 2016 for hiring young people earning below R6,000 per month, was originally rejected by labour because of fears it would lead to job losses among older workers.  According to labour, it has been impossible to measure the effect of the programme on job creation due to a myriad factors including tax confidentiality laws.  Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said the programme had failed to cover designated vulnerable sectors and special economic zones as intended because there had been no such inclusion to date.  He also claimed that subsidies from the incentive were benefiting labour brokers.  SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) spokesman Patrick Craven said the new federation’s affiliates were opposed to the scheme as it contradicted their position that work of equal value should be rewarded equally.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SA’s unemployed youth will soon rise against and rightfully so, at Moneyweb


REINSTATEMENT OF BRIAN MOLEFE AT ESKOM
Molefe: Resigned, retired, retrenched, retained … which is it?

Fin24 asks whether Brian Molefe resigned, retired or was retrenched as Eskom CEO and, more importantly, whether he will be retained as chief executive following his surprise return to the state power utility?  These questions may only be answered in the North Gauteng High Court as part of the Democratic Alliance’s application to have his reappointment reversed.  Parliament’s public enterprises committee had hoped to get answers from Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and the Eskom board on Friday, but this was scrapped as the matter is sub judice.  Clarity on whether Molefe resigned, retired or was retrenched will be a factor in determining whether his reappointment was legal.  When he stepped down in November 2016, it was believed he had resigned to clear his name following the Public Protector’s State of Capture report which implicated him.  However, it then emerged that he was due to receive an early pension pay-out of R30m, but this was rescind by Brown.  Making matters murkier, it was reported on Wednesday that a retrenchment policy might have been used to approve the R30m pay-out.  Meanwhile, Brown said on Wednesday that she will talk to President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to resolve the controversial return of Molefe.

Read this report by Matthew le Cordeur in full at Fin24


CORPORATE TRANSFORMATION / EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

Absa Capital employees stage walk out after top black manager overlooked for job

City Press reports that black professionals at Absa Capital on Tuesday staged a walk out after a top black manager, Phakamani Hadebe, was passed over for the position of head of corporate and investment banking.  According to a source (unnamed) close to the company, about 20 black employees got up and left during the announcement of leadership changes at the company’s headquarters in Sandton.  The source went on to comment:  “The bank’s record on transformation is not rosy ... and the argument that there are not capable and sufficiently experienced black professionals just doesn’t wash any more when things like this happen.  It is the first time in my career, I have seen black professionals actually openly display their level of displeasure in this manner …  People are fed up ... Things are going to reach a tipping point – we can’t continue like this.”  A Barclays Africa Group spokesperson said Hadebe had tendered his resignation in March, but the news of his departure was only made known to Absa staff on Tuesday.

Read this report by Justin Brown in full at City Press

Business must do more to protect the rights of LGBT+ employees

Patrick Bracher, attorney, and Xhanti Payi, economist, write about the role of business in protecting and promoting the rights of employees who are part of LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community, who are often silent in the workplace.  SA has a legal framework that outlaws discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, but it is disheartening that there has been very little momentum from business in living these constitutionally enshrined values and adhering fully to statutes that flow from constitutional principles — including the Employment Equity Act and the Companies Act.  The authors note that discrimination can take silent and subtle forms.  Someone who comes to work every day and is afraid to be themselves because it could have adverse consequences for their jobs and their relationships with colleagues are precisely the people the law is intended to protect.  Anything that prevents any of us from realising our potential is unfair.  But, apart from companies embracing diversity as a matter of complying with the law, discrimination in the workplace often leads to fear and deceit, which in turn could affect company performance.

Read this article in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Women still face discrimination in the workplace, at SABC News


SALE OF BUSINESS / BUSINESS RESCUE / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

General Motors leaving South Africa by end of 2017

TMG Digital/BusinessLive report that General Motors (GM) informed employees and unions on Thursday morning that it is quitting South Africa.  Besides its light commercial vehicle manufacturing operations in Struandale‚ Port Elizabeth‚ which it was selling to Isuzu‚ the US car maker intended to cease its South African operations by the end of 2017‚ GM said on its website.  GM’s vice-president of its international operations‚ Stefan Jacoby‚ said in a statement on Thursday morning:  "After a thorough assessment of our South African operations‚ we believe it is best for Isuzu to integrate our light commercial vehicle manufacturing operations into its African business.  We determined that continued or increased investment in manufacturing in SA would not provide GM the expected returns of other global investment opportunities."

Read this report by Robert Laing in full at Sunday Times Business

Stuttafords shuts three stores as rescue prospects grow dim

Moneyweb reports that Stuttafords has shut three of its department stores as the struggling company puts up a fight to fend off liquidation.  The 159-year-old retailer last week begun the process of shutting the three stores located at Johannesburg’s Clearwater Mall and Rosebank Mall and Canal Walk Shopping Centre in Cape Town.  This will reduce the department store footprint from nine to six.  Along with the department stores, Stuttafords shut two of its 14 mono-brand stores (brands with own stand-alone stores) – and still maintained its three stores outside SA (two in Botswana and one in Namibia).  It is unclear how many job losses will be incurred from the closures, but since Stuttafords placed itself into voluntary business rescue on 28 October, it cut its staff complement by more than 50.  The department chain employs 763 people.  The store closures come at a time when a new rescue plan was submitted to creditors and shareholders on Friday.

Read this report by Ray Mahlaka in full at Moneyweb


EMPLOYEE BENEFIT FUNDS

Confusion over new UIF contribution and benefit rules due to unclear wording

BusinessTech reports that earlier this year the Minister of Labour announced an amendment to the “scale of benefits” described in the Unemployment Insurance Act and amendments then came into effect on 1 April.  But according to Arlene Leggat of the SA Payroll Association (SAPA), there has been widespread confusion as to whether the change in benefits has led to an increase in contributions payable by employees as the wording is somewhat misleading.  She commented:  “The announcement uses the term: ‘scale of benefits’.  However, the figures mentioned are actually the limits of benefits to which UIF applicants are entitled, i.e. they can’t claim amounts above this ceiling.  The scale of benefits refers to brackets of income previously earned by a beneficiary and the corresponding percentage of that income they may claim at each level.  These brackets might not even be affected, and the articulation of the change could have been clearer.”  According to Leggat, UIF benefits have always been closely associated with UIF contributions, so it was natural for payroll practitioners to assume that changes to the first would have a direct impact on the latter.  “Therefore, many practitioners were led to believe that contributions must be included when, in fact, payroll is not affected at all.”  SAPA is awaiting an official clarification from the UIF.

Read this report in full at BusinessTech


EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT / CORRUPTION / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Motsoeneng makes last-ditch bid to delay disciplinary action at SABC

TMG Digital/TimesLive report that former SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng may finally face the music after a last-minute bid to halt a disciplinary hearing failed on Wednesday night.  Motsoeneng is facing charges of bringing the SABC into disrepute following a lengthy and bizarre media conference he held in April.  The hearing‚ which was meant to begin at 3pm on Wednesday‚ descended into four hours of deliberation over whether it would take place.  Motsoeneng’s lawyer explained that his client was not opposed to being disciplined‚ but wanted the hearing of the misconduct charge combined with a hearing of previous allegations of misconduct steming from findings in a report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela.  Hearing chairman Adv. Nazeem Cassim was reluctant to postpone the matter‚ asking whether Motsoeneng would go to the Labour Court to halt it.  After hours of discussions, he said the hearing should start‚ only for both sides to ask for time to prepare.  Now the hearing is expected to begin at 11.30am on Thursday‚ if Motsoeneng chooses not to bring another legal challenge.

Read this report by Neo Goba and Babalo Ndenze in full at BusinessLive.  See too, Motsoeneng plans to challenge his suspension by SABC at CCMA, at News24


WEB LINKS TO LABOUR NEWS ARTICLES ON WEDNESDAY, 17 MAY 2017

See our listing of links to labour articles published on the internet on Wednesday, 17 May 2017 at SA Labour News

 

Get South African labour news reports at SA Labour News