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 roundup of weekend news, see summaries of our
selection of South African labour-related stories
that appeared since Friday, 9 March 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Protest as killers of Taxify driver still on the loose

Saturday Citizen reports that hundreds of Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) students as well as Taxify and Uber drivers marched through the streets of Pretoria on Friday to the site where young Taxify driver Siyabonga Ngcobo’s body was found burnt beyond recognition in the boot of a car.  It has been over a week since the brutal murder and his killers have not yet been arrested.  Ngcobo, a fourth-year student at TUT, was attacked last Friday by a group of people when he picked up a commuter in Arcadia.  His passenger was pulled out of the car and he was thrown in the boot and the vehicle was set on fire.  Trapped inside, he was burnt beyond recognition.  Drivers were now living in fear, a driver said, as investigations into the violence continued.  As a victim of an attack at OR Tambo International Airport last year, Koketso Lentsoane warned his colleagues to be wary when picking up a passenger, as attackers posed as commuters.  Lentsoane commended Uber for improving its security, but said Taxify needed to put measures in place for driver safety.  “We haven’t seen effort from Taxify.  There is an improvement from Uber, but we need Taxify to up their safety levels,” he stated.

Read this report by Rorisang Kgosana in full at The Citizen. Read too, Dead Taxify driver’s family devastated, at The Star

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Pupil who hit her teacher with a book facing disciplinary action, at Timeslive


LISTERIOSIS OUTBREAK AT FACTORY

No talk of retrenchments at Enterprise's Polokwane factory, says union

Timeslive reports that there has been no talk of retrenchments at Enterprise Foods’ factory in Polokwane‚ which was shut down because of the presence of the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.  Success Mataitsane of the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) said employees returned to work on Friday.  Management instructed workers to stay away from 6 March because the production of polony had had to be stopped after Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced that the bacterium had been traced to the factory.  “The workers are back at work as per agreement we had with employers on Monday.  Thus far‚ nothing relating to retrenchments has been discussed.  They are back at work.  They are not producing any polony.  They are just doing mop-ups‚ cleaning‚” Mataitsane said.  The plant employs about 450 people of which about 400 are union members

Read this report by Penwell Dlamini in full at Timeslive. See too, Workers back at Enterprise, production still halted, at JacarandaFM

Employees at Enterprise Foods in Polokwane in limbo amid listeriosis outbreak

The Sunday Independent reports that employees at the Enterprise Foods factory in Polokwane are in limbo as they don’t know whether they will be paid or not following the listeriosis outbreak having been traced to the factory.  According to three workers from the plant, they were receiving mixed signals from managers regarding their monthly salaries.  “We were told to halt production and deep clean all the machines.  We are now confused because we are receiving mixed messages regarding our payments.  The plant manager says we are going to get paid but the HR person is saying no work no pay,” said one employee.  Another employee said they did not know when operations would return to normal.  He appealed to the company not to punish them for things that were beyond their control and had not been caused by them.  Unions have vowed to ensure workers do not get mistreated and get what was due to them.  Ntata Sekgota of the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) said that initially workers were told to go home as the plant was closed and no one was allowed inside, but management then relented and people were back at work cleaning all the machines.  Nelson Semenya of the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) echoed the message and called on the holding company Tiger Brands not to tamper with the salaries of workers placed on special leave.

Read this report by Karabo Ngoepe in full at The Sunday Independent

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • South Africa doesn't meet world health standards for food inspectors, at Timeslive


MINING LABOUR

Settlement in silicosis class action lawsuit expected within six weeks

Reuters reports that gold producers will likely reach a settlement within six weeks in a lawsuit over a fatal lung disease that companies have set aside R5 billion in provisions for, a lawyer and an industry group said on Sunday.  “I am confident we will finalise the settlement within six weeks,” said Richard Spoor, the human rights lawyer who has spearheaded the class action suit over the disease silicosis.  A spokesman for the working group on Occupational Lung Disease (OLD), a group put together by the six companies involved, said he was is “hopeful” the settlement could be reached in that timeframe.  The settlement would still need to be approved by the High Court before it was implemented.  The suit was launched around six years ago on behalf of miners suffering from silicosis, contracted by inhaling silica dust in gold mines.  The six companies involved are Anglo American, Harmony Gold, Gold Fields, African Rainbow Minerals, Sibanye-Stillwater and AngloGold Ashanti.  Anglo American no longer has gold assets but historically was a bullion producer.

Read this report in full at EWN

NUM to launch court bid to remove Optimum Coal Mine business rescue practitioners

Miningmx reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will be seeking to dislodge the business practitioners appointed for Optimum Coal Mine owing to their alleged links to the Gupta family which owns the operation through Tegeta Resources.  Attorneys for the union will launch a court application to set aside the appointment of Johan Klopper and Kurt Knoop on the basis they were appointed unlawfully “… and that they are not independent”.  The application will also contest the fact the business practitioners were appointed over eight other Gupta companies similarly in business rescue.  “Our client is seeking the appointment of a truly independent business rescue practitioner,” said NUM’s attorney, Kruger & Co Attorney.  “In fact, in the case of Klopper, his appointment was simply fraudulent,” it said in a statement.  “The plea of the NUM is that independent business rescue practitioners be appointed, who they can trust and will act in the best interest of all affected parties,” the NUM’s attorney said.  Optimum Coal Mine, which supplies Eskom’s Hendrina power station, as well as Koornfontein and Brakfontein coal mines, are currently not operating after the NUM called strikes at the properties on the basis that its members have not been paid their latest salaries.  

Read this report by David McKay in full at Miningmx. Read too, NUM in legal bid to remove ‘fraudulent’ Gupta business rescue duo, at The Citizen. And also, Inside the Gupta business rescue: Pillage, distrust, lawsuits, at City Press

Court grants preservation order in respect of Guptas' mine rehabilitation funds

News24 reports that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has secured a court order to preserve the mining rehabilitation funds of two Gupta-owned mines held by the Bank of Baroda.  The bank intends leaving SA.  According to the North Gauteng High Court order, dated 8 March, the money in the Optimum Mine Rehabilitation Trust (OMRT) and the Koornfontein Mine Rehabilitation Trust (KMRT) has to be transferred from the Bank of Baroda to Nedbank for safekeeping, with interest.  The order was granted in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and was intended to preserve the money, and to prevent anybody from taking from the funds, or diminishing their value.  Within 30 days of the order, the Bank of Baroda must also give the NPA and the Department of Mineral Resources documents relating to the interest rates for both trust accounts, transaction histories for the accounts, all instructions, whether oral or in writing, relating to both accounts, and any other information required to verify the veracity of the funds.  The preservation order follows allegations that Tegeta, which forms part of the Guptas' Oakbay Investments, withdrew money from the accounts, and used some of it as collateral for loans.  This was purportedly for mine rehabilitation, but there is apparently no documentary proof.  In its application, the NPA contended that the money can only be used for rehabilitation once a mine is closed.

Read this report by Jenni Evans in full at News24. Read too, Lawmakers urge mines ministry to be vigilant on Gupta-owned mines, at Mining Weekly

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Battle to keep Sibanye’s Lonmin platinum deal alive hinges on the rand, at Mining Weekly


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Nehawu calls off DUT strike with deal on 7% across the board wage increase

ANA reports that the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has reached an agreement with the Durban University of Technology (DUT) to end a protracted eight-week wage strike.  The union said in a statement on Saturday that the parties agreed on a salary increase of 7% across the board, including a R200 housing allowance.  The issue of a once-off bonus would be referred to the CCMA for interpretation, because Nehawu viewed it as a change in conditions of service, as the bonus had been paid to workers for the past eight years.  The issue of docking of salaries by the university during the strike would be referred to the Labour Court.  The university had agreed that 13 days of the strike would be waived and staff would get their full salaries on 20 March.  Moreover, Nehawu said, the university agreed to give staff members salary advances up to R12,000 payable over eight months to help them deal with the financial repercussions of the strike.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read Nehawu’s press statement at Nehawu online

Nehawu strike ‘won’t stop water services’ says Water and Sanitation

The Citizen reports that the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is confident there is no risk of an interruption to water supply services.  This despite the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union’s (Nehawu’s) national strike in 53 of the department’s workplaces across the country.  DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said on Thursday:  “I’m hoping that water and sanitation services don’t get interrupted.  As of now, there is water in the municipal as well as in the entity infrastructure.  This also includes our water bores.”  He also said that operators were regarded as essential services, so they should be allowed to go on site and keep the infrastructure going.  The department was hoping that “even if people continue striking, the issue of essential services don’t come under fire.”  The strike follows a deadlock in negotiations with the DWS regarding complaints of outsourcing, service conditions and corruption within senior management.  The union has also accused former minister Nomvula Mokonyane of “unlawfully suspending many senior managers” and “refusing to implement arbitration awards which are favourable to the union”.  It plans to take legal action against Mokonyane and present evidence to the Hawks.

Read this report by Sanele Gumada in full at The Citizen. See too, Nehawu slams Mokonyane for Water Department’s woes, at EWN. And also, Nehawu to remain on water strike until demands meet, at EWN

Tshwane bus services suspended over drivers’ strike about working hours

The Citizen reports that after Tshwane bus drivers went on strike on Wednesday over a dispute with Tshwane Bus Services (TBS) management about working hours, operations were suspended indefinitely.  The drivers, all members of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union *Samwu), refused to do their shifts from noon and closed all the gates at all the depots, preventing any buses from exiting.  The drivers continued their strike on Thursday.  The city’s chief operating officer was due to meet with the striking drivers on Friday in a bid to resolve their grievances.  Other employees affiliated to the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) indicated their willingness to work, but city officials said they couldn’t risk their lives as well as the assets of the city by driving the buses.

Read this report by Virginia Keppler in full at The Citizen


PROTESTS / MARCHES / CAMPAIGNS

Robben Island Museum staff hand over petition spelling out grievances

Timeslive reports that on Friday Robben Island Museum staff briefly downed tools to hand a list of grievances to management of the World Heritage Site.  Salaries‚ contract workers and the state of the harbour on the island were among their complaints.  National Education Health & Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) regional secretary Baxolise Mali addressed workers gathered outside the museum’s offices at the V&A Waterfront, indicating that there had been an agreement that contract workers would be made permanent but that this had not happened.  “We want them to revise the salaries … the lowest-level person is currently earning R10‚000.  There is a huge salary disparity.  It is also very difficult to hold meetings with Robben Island management‚” said Mali.  Staff also raised concerns about the poor state of the jetty at the harbour.  The operation of ferries to the island continued as normal on Friday.

Read this report by Petru Saal in full at Timeslive


EXECUTIVE PAY / WAGE GAP

Sanlam trims bonuses over Steinhoff exposure of clients

BusinessLive reports that Sanlam CEO Ian Kirk is taking a 20% cut on his 2017 bonus – a reduction of R2.5m – as part of a company-wide trim to incentives relating to Steinhoff exposure contained in client funds.  About 100 employees across Sanlam, including in its investments business, capital markets unit and among executives, will be affected by incentive cuts totalling R50m.  Kirk, who was not directly involved in decisions to buy Steinhoff shares, said on Thursday:  "It was the right thing to do.  Sanlam clients who suffered losses on Steinhoff would be asking, ‘How are Sanlam executives suffering?’."  The move is highly unusual in an industry that is frequently criticised for accepting handsome performance fees when funds do well, but seldom participating in the downside to the same degree.  Shareholder activist Theo Botha remarked that it would be interesting to see what other asset managers did in the light of Sanlam’s move.

Read this report by Hanna Ziady in full at BusinessLive (paywall access)


RETIREMENT FUNDS

PSA wants details from PIC on Steinhoff shares for purposes of class action

EWN reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) has written to the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) requesting information regarding the number of Steinhoff shares purchased by the body on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).  The PSA’s Tahir Maepa said they have requested the information to assist them with the planning of a class action against the retail giant.  “We have requested the PIC to provide us with information on the number of shares purchased in Steinhoff and when they were purchased.  We also want to know at what price the shares were purchased,” Maepa indicated.  According to the union, more than R12.5 billion in public servants' pensions were lost when Steinhoff’s value dropped by R194 billion following allegations of fraud last year.

This report by Graig-Lee Smith is at EWN. Read the PSA’s press statement in this regard at PSA online


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Labour Court rules that Assmang’s 2015 retrenchment of Numsa shop steward was fair

Timeslive reports that the Labour Court had harsh words on Tuesday for the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) which had sought to challenge the retrenchment of one of its Assmang shop stewards.  Mandla Phakhathi’s services were terminated - together with those of a number of other employees - on account of Assmang Machadodorp Chrome Works’ operational requirements in April 2015.  Numsa challenged the termination of Phakhathi’s employment on the grounds that it was unfair.  Judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje stated that he understood Numsa’s case to be that by virtue of his position as a full-time shop steward‚ Phakhathi was immune from Assmang’s decision to retrench because that position was entrenched by virtue of the provisions of the shop steward agreement.  “There is everything wrong and illogical with the applicants’ approach‚” Thlothlalemaje said.  He noted that when Phakhathi was appointed as a full-time shop steward there had been 700 employees, but the number dwindled to 60 in 2015 and there was no reason why a full-time shop steward was still necessary.  The judge said the fact that an employee was a full-time shop steward did not imply that he or she enjoyed immunity from any operational requirements.  Tlhotlhalemaje also noted that‚ after retrenchments in 2014‚ Phakhathi was no longer a full-time shop-steward as he had had to work at the stores.

Read this report by Ernest Mabuza in full at Timeslive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page