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 afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Thursday, 1 February 2018.


TOP STORY

Hundreds trapped underground in Free State mine due to electrical outage

News24 reported on Thursday that hundreds of miners were trapped underground in Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix mine in the Free State following an electric cable outage after a storm on Wednesday night.  Sibanye-Stillwater spokesperson James Wellsted said on Thursday afternoon that all the miners had been accounted for and were safe.  Operators were trying to restore power to the shaft to allow the miners to leave.  Wellsted said generators had been brought in to assist.  "We are experiencing some issues, but they [the miners] have all been accounted for," Wellsted indicated.

This short report by Jan Bornman is at News24. See too, Beatrix miners stuck underground, not in danger, at Mining Weekly


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Joburg metro police pay tribute to two colleagues killed in roadblock accident

Timeslive writes that, leaning on a crutch with his knee bandaged‚ Terrence Mhindurwa, and also Lance Mangoro, on Thursday returned to the site where their colleagues‚ Johannesburg metro police officers Winnie Mokgolo and Sophie Ngoasheng‚ were killed earlier this week.  Mhindurwa and Mangoro‚ who had his arm in a sling‚ took their place behind the families of Mokgolo and Ngoasheng‚ who had come for a wreath laying ceremony at the place where the traffic officers lost their lives after an alleged drunken driver ploughed into them on Monday at a roadblock.  The families sat on the side of the road with most of their heads covered.  One sobbed as the JMPD brass band began marching in the closed off Witkoppen Road where the accident happened.  Still visible at the scene was debris from the several vehicles that were involved in the crash.

A short report by Naledi Shange is at Timeslive

Driver who killed two JMPD cops at roadblock had empty booze bottles in his bakkie

Timeslive reports that the driver of a Toyota Hilux which ploughed into two Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officers at a manned roadblock – killing them instantly - had at least three empty bottles of spirits in his vehicle.  This was revealed by JMPD's Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar, who said:  "There were gin bottles and Smirnoff Spin empty bottles inside the car.  The officer who was recording the accident said he couldn’t count the number of bottles."  The driver‚ 34‚ who has been remanded in custody and yet to be charged‚ cannot be named as he has not appeared in court.  The two female JMPD officers‚ Winnie Mokgolo and Sophie Ngoasheng‚ were fatally injured on Monday evening after a motorist lost control of his vehicle and rammed into a roadblock mounted by the JMPD along Witkoppen Road near Montecasino.  Two other female officers‚ two passengers from two stopped vehicles as well as the driver of the Hilux, also sustained serious injuries.

Read this report by Neo Goba in full at Timeslive. See too, Joburg mayor visits families of killed JMPD officers, at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Driver implicated in fatal JMPD roadblock crash applies for bail, at Timeslive


MINING LABOUR

First pay rise for Lonmin bosses in five years

Business Report writes that platinum producer Lonmin said on Tuesday that it had increased the salary of its chief executive, Ben Magara, for the first time since October 2013.  The company's remuneration committee said in its latest annual report that it had decided to award salary increases of 2.9% and 5%, respectively, for Magara and chief financial officer Barrie van der Merwe for the 2018 financial year.  Their benefits and retirement benefits for the coming year would remain substantially unchanged from prior years.  The increases were against the backdrop of SA’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) having been close to 6% at the end of the 2017 financial year.  In terms of incentive outcomes, the remuneration committee had approved a bonus equivalent to 40% for Magara and Van der Merwe.  There were no major changes proposed in respect of short-term incentives for the coming year.  The company has faced liquidity challenges, owing to the low platinum pricing environment.  Lonmin is the subject of a takeover bid by Sibanye-Stillwater.

Read this report by Dineo Faku in full at Business Report


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

State tables draft agreement with favourable proposals for labour ahead of 2019 poll

BusinessLive reports that seemingly in a quest to avoid a strike on the eve of the 2019 general election, the government has tabled a draft wage agreement with several proposals favourable to labour unions.  But, the implementation of these proposals could lead to a surge in the public wage bill, which the Treasury has been trying to contain.  The draft agreement was tabled by government negotiators at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) last week.  Although there was no agreement on salary hikes, the government has given in to a number of demands, such as the removal of a spousal-benefits restriction that extended housing allowances to only one spouse if a couple was employed in the public service.  In return, unions lowered their demand for housing allowance increases from R2,500 a month to R1,500.  The establishment of a bursary scheme for children of public servants was one of the conditions agreed to, as well as a housing scheme proposal.  Government has offered to hike pay for employees on levels one to seven by inflation (CPI) plus 1.5%; levels eight to 10 by CPI plus 1%; and levels 11 and 12 by CPI only for the first year of the three-year deal.  Workers now want salaries increased by CPI plus 3% for the lowest levels, with a 2% CPI add-on for levels eight to 10 and 1% for 11 and 12.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Wits University and unions reach wage deal ending strike

GroundUp reports that the week-long workers’ strike at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has been suspended after management and the workers’ unions reached an agreement on Wednesday afternoon.  The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the National Health Education and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) represented the workers.  On Wednesday, Nehawu’s Khaya Xaba released a statement confirming that workers in lower level positions would receive a 9.2% increase and those in mid-level positions would receive 7.8%.  Professional and academic staff would receive a 7% increase.  Salary increases will be backdated to 1 January 2018.  Xaba also said Wits had agreed to create a task team by April this year to look into lower paid staff members moving up to the midpoint of salary scales.  This would mean that the lowest earning staff member would earn about R124,000 a year as opposed to the current R94,000.  Unions had demanded a minimum wage of R10,000 per month.

Read this report by Zoë Postman in full at GroundUp


STAFFING / RECRUITMENT / VACANCIES

SABC gets new COO in former journalist Chris Maroleng

BusinessLive reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has confirmed that it has appointed former journalist Chris Maroleng as its chief operating officer (COO) with effect from 1 February.  Maroleng was, until recently, the group executive for corporate affairs at MTN.  The public broadcaster, which is facing its worst financial crisis to date, has not had a permanent COO since the sacking of Hlaudi Motsoeneng in July 2017.  It is still to appoint a permanent CEO and chief financial officer.  Apparently, the Treasury will not advance the R3bn government guarantee the SABC has requested until the broadcaster deals with several issues, including the appointment of executives.  Adverts for the CEO and chief financial officer position have been placed and the deadline for applications has been extended to 14 February, the SABC indicated.

Read this report by Bekezela Phakathi in full at BusinessLive


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

Department of Labour concedes blunder with definition of ‘worker’ in minimum wage bill

BusinessLive reports that the Department of Labour has conceded that it erred when it changed the wording of the definition of "worker" in the National Minimum Wage Bill.  This followed a Business Day report detailing how the bill, which was gazetted in November 2017, went against recommendations of experts and a National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) agreement.  In the bill, "workers" are defined as employees as per the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), which would result in the exclusion of millions of independent contractors, subcontractors and task-based workers and limit the reach of the minimum wage coverage.  The department said on Wednesday that it was never its intention to deviate from the Nedlac agreement made between the government, business and labour and that it would correct the error.  Labour federations welcomed the department’s concession, but were concerned that the government was committing similar errors too often.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read the Department of Labour’s press statement at DOL online


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

ANN7 staff fear job cuts after MultiChoice announces non-renewal of contract

SowetanLive reports that fears of job losses have gripped ANN7 employees after pay-tv company MultiChoice announced its decision to cut ties with the Gupta-linked 24-hour news channel.  MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela advised that the platform broadcaster would not be renewing its contract with the channel in August when the current one lapses.  The decision seemingly did not come as a surprise to some staff members, who had been reassured of the future by new owner Mzwanele Manyi about two weeks ago.  An unnamed staff member said:  "The general [Manyi] told us everything was fine and that we need not worry [about the channel's future]."  Some staff members on Wednesday watched the announcement on TV and apparently joked about how unemployment stared them in the face.  Sdumo Dlamini, president of labour federation Cosatu, slammed MultiChoice's decision, saying:  "These multinationals or monopolies who continue to grow on the strength of the workers of this country make these decisions without considering their impact on those workers."

Read this report by Isaac Mahlangu in full at SowetanLive. Read too, Removing ANN7 has 'serious implications for media freedom', warns Sanef, at News24. And also, Manyi to challenge MultiChoice’s decision to drop ANN7 from DStv bouquet, at The Citizen


BASIC EDUCATION

Former Reiger Park principal ‘a notorious womaniser’

The Citizen reports that the former Reiger Park school principal allegedly caught on video having sex with a pupil has been described by someone who knows him as a “notorious womaniser” who allegedly abused his power to gain sexual favours from female pupils.  Parents and pupils have been left traumatised and angered by the emergence of a video apparently depicting the principal and three teachers committing sexual acts with at least one pupil and a person employed by the school.  The pupil is alleged to have been 18 at the time the video was filmed three years ago.  Police are still trying to track her down and establish the identity of the other female participant, who is believed to be a sub-contracting worker for the school’s catering service.  The three teachers in the video have since been removed from the school, but have not been fired.  They have to report to the school’s district office daily while an investigation is under way.  Despite the principal having resigned last year, Gauteng MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi said he only learnt of this last week, a week after the principal’s last official day.

Read this report by Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni in full at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • ‘Sex-scandal principal must be prosecuted’, at SowetanLive


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE BENEFIT FUNDS

Molefe wants to appeal pension pay-back ruling, but Solidarity says it’s just a postponing tactic

The Citizen reports that former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe wants to appeal against a damning court ruling that he must pay back the lump sum of over R10.3m of a R30.1 million pension he received.  On Tuesday, he filed an application for leave to appeal with the High Court in Pretoria against the 25 January ruling by a full bench, giving him ten days to pay back the money.  The court had found that as an employee with a five year fixed term contract, Molefe had not been entitled to receive any pension benefit, that any payments made to him were patently unlawful and that he had voluntarily resigned at the end of 2016.  Trade union Solidarity’s chief executive Dirk Hermann said they would definitely oppose Molefe’s application, which they regarded as a delaying tactic to avoid having to repay the money.  “He ought to be ashamed, ask the country for forgiveness and repay the money unlawfully paid to him.  However, he is doing the exact opposite by trying to defend what the court has already found to be indefensible,” Hermann said.  Solitary said it would continue with a submitted to the Hawks to assist them with the criminal investigation against Molefe.

Read this report by Ilse de Lange in full at The Citizen. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity online

Steinhoff scandal cost Government Employees Pension Fund R20bn

Business Report writes that the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) lost about R20bn from the collapse of global retailer Steinhoff’s share price after the group admitted accounting irregularities.  This emerged from the hearings in Parliament on Wednesday when the Steinhoff supervisory board appeared before three parliamentary committees, namely the standing committees on finance, public accounts and public service and administration.  The GEPF said its Steinhoff shares were worth R24.1bn on 30 November last year, but worth only R3.1bn on 18 January this year.  The GEPF holds 392m Steinhoff shares, about 9.1% of all the group’s shares.  The Public Servants Association of SA (PSA) and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) indicated last month that they would be pursuing a class-action lawsuit against Steinhoff to recoup around R17bn of pensioners’ money that was wiped out in the wake of the scandal.  The PIC is the investment manager of a number of state funds, including the GEPF, whose members include PSA members.

Read this report by Sandile Mchunu in full at Business Report


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION / CORRUPTION

Eskom’s head of generation Matshela Koko suspended

ANA reports that Eskom's head of generation, Matshela Koko, on Wednesday confirmed that he had been suspended from the state-owned power utility.  "I have since this evening received a confirmation of my suspension from Eskom.  I have been served with new charges.  I welcome these developments and once again look forward to clearing my name in a tribunal," he wrote on social media.  Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed the suspension.  This was the second suspension at the power utility this week.  Earlier on Wednesday, Phasiwe confirmed the suspension of Eskom's chief information officer, Sean Maritz, pending an investigation into allegations of impropriety.  He had been placed on temporary suspension last Friday, which was then converted into a permanent suspension.  On 3 January, Eskom advised that Koko and former acting group executive for group capital, Prish Govender, had been reinstated after they were cleared in disciplinary hearings last year.  At the time, Phasiwe had said that the disciplinary hearings for the executives had been transparent and fair.

Read this report in full at Engineering News. See too, Eskom permanently suspends Maritz pending investigation, at Engineering News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Eskom's Koko facing four new charges, including misleading Parliament, at Fin24
  • Suspended Koko demands that Eskom reveals which lenders want him out, at Fin24


OTHER REPORTS

Police service still has illiterate members, members of parliament told

EWN reports that members of parliament's police portfolio committee were left gobsmacked after it was revealed that the police service still has illiterate members.  This was confirmed by deputy commissioner for policing, Sehlahle Masemola, on a question about the monitoring of police pocketbooks.  Last year, the lack of pocketbooks in which officers are meant to take notes about crime scenes was raised in the police's annual report.  Masemola said he discovered the illiteracy problem during a visit to police stations in December.  MPs also complained that people were being turned away from police stations when they wanted to lodge complaints, and committee members questioned to what extent illiteracy was playing a role.  Police management promised to conduct an audit to determine the extent of the problem and provide feedback to the committee within two weeks.

Read this report by Lindsay Dentlinger in full at EWN

 

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