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
Wednesday, 14 March 2018.


TOP STORY – RAIL SAFETY

Train hijackings are a ride to hell for drivers

The New Age writes that driving on SA’s rail tracks is a ride to hell for many of the country’s train drivers.  A 10 minute delay during peak hour could mean two things, namely drivers being forced at gunpoint or with a knife to detour from the planned route or being brutally attacked if they refused.  “Train hijacking” is becoming a significant contributor to railway mishaps in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.  On Monday, a female train driver had a narrow escape from an angry group who tried to force her to detour from her route.  She was saved by commuters.  Metrorail spokesperson Thabile Kunene said:  “In the past year we’ve had about seven incidents where drivers were forced to take a detour…  For the safety of the drivers we had to agree to the commuters’ demands and diverted the trains.”  On Tuesday, the United National Transport Union (Untu), which represents the majority of train drivers, told a media briefing the situation was “a ticking time bomb” which could lead to mass deaths should there be a miscommunication between the driver and control room.  President of the United Commuters Voice, Zwabesho Shange, said the rise of train hijacking was born out of frustration as a result of poor service and communication on the side of Prasa.  On Tuesday, Prasa admitted it was faced with the challenge of train hijackings and said the attacks on its staff would eventually leave it with no choice but to cancel services on dangerous rail corridors.

Read this report by Ntombi Nkosi, Dikeledi Molobela, Sibongiseni Maphumulo and Vincent Cruywagen in full at The New Age

Metrorail suspends Mamelodi service after attacks

eNCA reports that Metrorail has suspended operations in Mamelodi, north east of Pretoria, due to train hijackings, staff assaults and attacks against commuter trains in the area.  In a statement, Metrorail said there has been more than 10 attacks in a space of less than a week, with the latest incident having taken place at the Eerste Fabrieke station on Tuesday night.  No train service will run from Koedoespoort and Pienaarspoort stations.  "Drivers are scared to operate in the area due to ongoing attacks," spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said, adding that the suspension had no timeframe.  There will be no alternative plans for commuters.  Commuters with valid tickets for the month or weekly tickets can claim refunds from the Rissik, Haartebees and Pretoria stations.

A short report is at eNCA

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • High levels of crime may force Prasa to cancel services on certain routes, at Engineering News


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Law enforcement agencies vow to end war between metered taxi, Uber and Taxify drivers

News24 reports that law enforcement agencies have vowed to resolve the ongoing war between metered taxis drivers and Uber and Taxify drivers.  Officers from the Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) and officials from the Gauteng Department of Community Safety on Tuesday briefed the Gauteng legislature's Committee on Roads and Transport on plans to deal with violence between taxi drivers.  The provincial police commissioner and also the Tshwane metro police had been invited to brief the committee, but neither had been able to attend.  The briefing came after the body of Siyabonga Ngcobo, a Taxify driver, was found in the boot of a burnt car in Pretoria last Thursday night.  Department of Community Safety's Xolisa Mdigwane explained how the war began:  "The reason that the violence between the Uber and the metered taxi drivers flared up [was that] metered taxi drivers felt that government favoured Uber over them.  They felt that there was this big monster that was coming to take away their livelihoods."  That was followed by several attacks.  Officials will be meeting on 15 March to work on a way forward on the matter.

Read this report by Amanda Khoza in full at News24. Read too, Gauteng traffic cops working with SAPS to stop violence against Uber drivers, at Timeslive

Female security guard shot dead at Durban airport on Tuesday night

Timeslive reports that a woman‚ believed to be a security guard‚ was shot and killed at the King Shaka International Airport on Tuesday night.  It is understood that the woman‚ in a security uniform‚ was shot several times.  Her body was found in a staff processing area at the airport’s land side and she was declared dead at the scene.  Airports Company of SA spokesman Colin Naidoo said:  “I can confirm that a shooting took place.  What I do know is it seems like it was a dispute between a male and female security officers from Bosasa Security.  The male shot the female and handed himself to SAPS.  The female officer has died.  This occurred away from any airport operations so there is no disruptions or delays.”

A short report by Jeff Wicks is at Timeslive


MINING LABOUR

Amcu to march to Union Buildings on 20 March over mining job losses

Timeslive reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) says its 20,000 members will march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday, 20 March to protest the mass job losses in the mining industry and other socio-economic issues.  The protest will affect staff attendance at various mines across the country‚ with marches also planned in Polokwane‚ Durban‚ Welkom and Pretoria.  The strike will be protected as Amcu applied for permission from the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) in 2017 to undertake the protest action.  With reference to job losses in the mining industry‚ which were recorded at 50,000 between 2012 and 2015, Amcu’s president Joseph Mathunjwa said that “if we don’t do something quickly‚ it looks like more is set to come”.  The union will also be demanding that the Department of Mineral Resources should enforce stricter measures to ensure the implementation of social and labour plans by mines.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at Timeslive. Read Amcu’s press statement in this regard at Amcu Voice

FSB appeals to Reserve Bank over R385m for orphans of miners stuck in VBS

BusinessLive reports that a fund, the beneficiaries of which are children of deceased mine workers, has about R385m on deposit with VBS Mutual Bank.  The Reserve Bank placed VBS under curatorship on Sunday.  The Financial Services Board (FSB) confirmed that the Bophelo Beneficiary Fund, which with its administrator, Bophelo Benefit Services, was placed under curatorship by the board in June 2017, had R385m deposited with VBS.  The board was in talks with the Bank to recover this money for the orphans’ fund, Olano Makhubela, acting deputy executive officer for retirement funds, said on Tuesday.  The latest development concerning its cash will add to Bophelo’s woes.  It was placed under curatorship after it emerged that at least R255m was missing from the fund, which holds money for orphans of Anglo American Platinum mine workers.  This funds the schooling and living expenses of the orphans, with the balance paid when they reach the age of 18.

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

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Anglo American commits to ambitious sustainability strategy, at Mining Weekly


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

DUT says no-show by unions to sign agreement thwarting end of strike

Timeslive reports that according to the Durban University of Technology (DUT), they have been stood up twice by unions representing staff to end the strike that has thrown the institute into chaos over the past eight weeks.  In a statement on Tuesday‚ DUT deputy vice-chancellor Dr Isaac Machi said despite an in-principle agreement facilitated by the CCMA, the three unions were a no-show at meetings schedule for Monday and then for Tuesday to sign the offer.  The parties agreed on a salary increase of 7% across-the-board‚ including a R200 housing allowance.  In addition‚ once the agreement was signed‚ staff would be able to take advantage of a salary advance - up to a maximum of R12,000 - with repayment options.  Back payments relating to the salary increase and housing allowance from January to March would only be implemented in April.  However‚ DUT said as the agreement had not been signed‚ this could "derail the process of implementing its various elements".

Read this report by Yasantha Naidoo in full at Timeslive

‘No strike’ says union, but bodies pile up in Gauteng mortuaries

The Citizen reports that Gauteng funeral parlours say they are feeling the effects of a backlog in post-mortems due to industrial action.  This is despite the SA Liberated Public Sector Workers Union (Salipswu) denying that its members have gone on strike, and the Gauteng Department of Health saying they have nearly reached the end of the negotiation process with the union.  The go-slow at Gauteng mortuaries started on 7 March due to alleged unfulfilled promises from the department.  It has seen pathology workers abandoning their responsibilities of dissecting and eviscerating bodies even though they are reporting for work.  Victor Chukudu of Salipswu said the government had promised to implement a training programme which would allow all workers dealing with forensic pathology to earn a formal SAQA accredited qualification, which would qualify them for the “special damage allowance”.  The matter is apparently before the labour courts and proceedings will resume on Thursday.  Gauteng’s acting chief executive of forensic medical services, Dr Medupe Modisane, said regulations for the training programme would be finalised soon.

Read this report by Chisom Jenniffer Okoye in full at The Citizen


PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS / STANDARDS

SA medical students who studied abroad to be allowed to take board exam in May

News24 reports that Deputy Minister of Health Mathume Phaahla announced on Tuesday that South African medical students who studied abroad would now be allowed to write the Health Professions Council of SA’s (HPCSA’s) board exam.  This came after the HPCSA decided this year to enforce a 2009 regulation that would force South Africans who studied medicine abroad to do their internship in the land where they studied, before they would be allowed to take the board exam.  Some prospective doctors had received letters saying that they would be allowed to take the exam in May, only for permission to be rescinded in February.  A court battle loomed.  Speaking in a debate in the National Assembly called by IFP MP Narend Singh, Phaahla agreed with Singh that the HPCSA's decision had serious implications.  He said that those students already approved for the board exam would take it in May and the Department of Health would work with the HPCSA to find a long-term solution.  The HPCSA's enforcement of the regulation was condemned across party lines.

Read this report by Jan Gerber in full at News24


TERTIARY EDUCATION

Stadio Holdings aims to train doctors and engineers within next three years

BusinessLive reports that Stadio Holdings, the PSG-aligned private tertiary education specialist that listed in 2017, looks set to establish medical and engineering schools in the next three years.  Stadio will establish its own engineering faculty and is exploring partnerships in the public and private sectors with regard to the education and training of doctors.  Divya Singh, chief academic officer at Stadio, said the company planned to have the medical faculty in place and operational by 2021, with the engineering faculty open by 2020, with 2021 as an "outer limit".  She cautioned that the setting up of the faculties would require regulatory approvals, including engagements with professional councils.  In line with Stadio’s focus on qualifications that increased the employability of students, Singh said the engineering faculty planned to offer three-year degrees to produce graduates who could be employed as engineering technicians and technologists.  Stadio CEO Chris van der Merwe pointed out that top medical schools in SA were only able to enrol a small percentage of the qualifying applicants.

Read this report by Marc Hasenfuss in full at BusinessLive


DISCRIMINATION / RACISM

Showdown over ‘monkey’ and ‘baboon’ slurs shuts down Pretoria justice department on Tuesday

The Citizen reports that allegations of racial slurs posted on Facebook brought the Department of Justice in Pretoria to a standstill on Tuesday afternoon as staff gathered to demand the immediate suspension of two co-workers.  The angry staffers, supported by Nehawu and the PSA, demanded that the department’s chief financial officer, Louraine Rossouw, address them in person because the alleged perpetrators and their victims all worked in her department.  The alleged victims, Richard Vukeya and Wisani Hobyane, accused two of their colleagues, Natasha Roos and Lourens Botes, of referring to them on Facebook as “monkey” and “baboons” in four conversations over a period of four months.  Vukeya and Hobyane said they had complained about racism last year, but to no avail.  Rossouw has given instructions for the human resources department to start investigating the matter and she confirmed that Roos and Botes have been suspended.  Nehawu and the PSA have apparently agreed with Rossouw to have a follow-up meeting later this month to discuss the investigation and what steps have been taken.

Read this report by Virginia Keppler in full at The Citizen


DISMISSALS / UNFAIR LABOUR PRACTICES

Fired Absa executive in ‘old white men’ case loses unfair dismissal court bid

BusinessLive reports that an Absa executive who was fired after she called management "old white men" has failed in a high court bid to prove she was unfairly dismissed.  Shirley Simmadari‚ former head of sales at Absa Corporate and Investment Bank‚ also claimed she had been racially victimised‚ but Cape Town Labour Court Judge Anton Steenkamp said she had failed to prove this.  Simmadari‚ from Johannesburg‚ was fired for gross misconduct.  In his judgment‚ Steenkamp found she had harassed and bullied subordinates.  She also made racist‚ ageist and other inappropriate comments.  Simmadari claimed that Absa had treated her differently from one of her subordinates‚ a white man‚ who was "allowed to retire gracefully".  But, Steenkamp said the subordinate had not been found guilty of misconduct and had been one of Simmadari’s targets.  "She has not established that she was dismissed on the grounds of her race rather than for misconduct; and she has not shown that she was treated differently to [her subordinate] because of her race‚ gender or conscience," Steenkamp ruled.  He ordered Simmadari to pay Absa’s costs‚ saying she had made "far-reaching allegations" against the bank without any basis for doing so.

Read this report by Dave Chambers in full at BusinessLive

CCMA told that Hlaudi not qualified for any SABC top job

SowetanLive reports that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) heard on Tuesday that controversial former SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng was not qualified to hold any top position at the public broadcaster.  SABC deputy chairwoman Khanyisile Kweyama was giving evidence in an arbitration process and said that even if the courts were to rule that Motsoeneng be reinstated, he would fall short of the requirements.  Kweyama said the minimum qualification for any executive position was a postgraduate or a master's qualification, which Motsoeneng did not hold.  She indicated that, according to their knowledge, Motsoeneng did not have the requisite qualifications, which automatically meant his reinstatement would be futile.  Asked if Motsoeneng qualified to be head of the SABC or group executive corporate affairs, Kweyama unreservedly dismissed this.  Motsoeneng is fighting his dismissal at the CCMA after a disciplinary hearing committee found him guilty of contravening the broadcaster's code of conduct by holding a press conference on 19 April last year while he was on suspension.  He was officially fired from the state-owned entity on 12 June 2017.

Read this report by Neo Goba in full at SowetanLive


SEXUAL HARASSMENT / ABUSE

Dog DNA analysis delays case of man accused of raping his domestic worker

News24 reports that the case against a 41-year-old man, who allegedly raped his domestic worker and forced her to perform sexual acts with his dogs, has been postponed.  The Bronkhorstspruit Magistrate's Court heard on Tuesday that the State was still awaiting DNA samples from the dogs, which might or might not assist to prove that the victim had been forced to perform sexual acts with the animals.  The accused's lawyer told the court that she had been instructed to bring a bail application at the accused's next appearance, following testimony from a psychiatrist that he was fit to stand trial.  She would also apply to have the accused's dogs released to his parents.  State prosecutor Solly Leballo told the court that they would oppose the application for the dogs to be released until the samples were ready.  He added that the DNA samples for the victim and the accused had been completed and received.  During a previous court appearance, a psychiatrist who evaluated the accused for seven days, declared that he was mentally fit to stand trial.  The case has been postponed to 19 March for a formal bail application.

Read this report by Alex Mitchley in full at News24. See too, Bronkhorstspruit rape accused wants his dogs back, at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Molestation allegations against cop investigating Soweto school sexual assault 'quite serious', at News24