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, 16 March 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

PE ambulance crew attending to woman in labour robbed at gunpoint

ANA reports that an ambulance crew attending to a woman who was giving birth was robbed at gunpoint in Port Elizabeth.  The incident happened at around 10pm on Wednesday in New Brighton while medics were attending to the mother.  Both crew members were inside the woman's house and when the female crew member went to the ambulance, she was confronted by a gun wielding male.  When the other crew member went out to investigate, he too was confronted by a man, who pointed a firearm and demanded all their belongings including wallets and cellphones.  There were community members at the scene, but they could not assist the ambulance crew members during their ordeal.  The two robbers disappeared - no one sustained injuries and no shots were fired.  Police are investigating a case of armed robbery.  Provincial department of health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said that following a series of similar incidents in the Port Elizabeth area, ambulance crews would now conduct situational analysis before responding to calls and would go out in teams.  If the situation looked suspicious they would contact the nearest police station and request an escort.

Read this report in full at IOL News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Stress a major contributor to cop suicides, says Sapu, at EWN
  • Two cops wounded on Saturday in Greenside shootout with car hijackers, at eNCA
  • Manhunt for suspects after two police officers wounded in Johannesburg, at SowetanLive


MINING LABOUR

Mantashe not keen to scrap Zwane’s revised Mining Charter, proposes limited changes

BusinessLive reports that SA’s mining industry’s hope of revisiting the transformation and growth of the resources sector were dashed at weekend talks with new Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.  The Chamber of Mines had hoped to use the chance of a new minister and the postponed court review of the controversial third version of the Mining Charter drawn up under the leadership of Mosebenzi Zwane, to find common ground with the government.  However, there was a cold dose of political reality when it appeared that far from abandoning the suspended third charter, the ministry under Mantashe — a former general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) — merely proffered changes to the document and agreed to the setting up of two teams to discuss transformation and competitiveness.  The teams, representing the mineral resources department, the Chamber, the SA Mining Development Association, the NUM, Solidarity and Uasa, will thrash out ideas and report back on 10 April.  Noticeably absent from the talks was the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which allegedly said it had not received an invitation.  Talks pressed on without Amcu, which is an arch rival of the NUM, but it is understood it will be invited to all further sessions.  Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa did not respond to requests for comment.

Read this report by Allan Seccombe in full at BusinessLive Premium (paywall access). See too, ARM's Motsepe predicts successful Mining Charter, land outcomes, at Mining Weekly

Battle over Optimum business rescuers continues after NUM bid doesn’t materialise

City Press reports that court papers show that a campaign to unseat the business rescue practitioners running eight Gupta-owned companies is now being led by a newly created shelf company that is buying up other creditors’ invoices.  Direko Mining and Exploration launched an application to remove Kurt Knoop and Johan-Louis Klopper last week after its attorney initially threatened to bring a similar application on behalf of Optimum’s workers.  Direko has denied it was created to acquire the Optimum mine.  It is asking for the practitioners to be removed due to “reasonable apprehension” that they are linked to the Gupta family and will run the business rescue of their interconnected empire in the family’s interests.  In their place, Direko is asking for two new practitioners of its choosing to be installed.  Direko’s attorney is Ruann Kruger, who had earlier struck a deal with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) branch in Middelburg to remove Klopper and Knoop on the company’s behalf.  However, the NUM branch did not have the blessing of the union and that bid has not materialised.  Knoop commented the NUM branch, which was immediately countered by the union’s head office, “suggests that influence has been brought to bear on the Middelburg branch ... to provide the resolution”.

Read this report by Dewald Van Rensburg in full at Fin24


MARIKANA DEATHS

Former top North West cop and five others granted bail in Marikana murder case

ANA reports that former North West provincial deputy commissioner General William Mpembe and five other policemen accused of murder in relation to the killing of mine workers in Marikana in 2012 were been granted bail in the Rustenburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.  Mpembe, who is now employed as a head of security at a mining company in Marikana, is facing four counts of murder and six of attempted murder.  He was granted bail of R5,000.  Mpembe appeared alongside Colonel Salmon Vermaak, who was granted R5,000 bail and three other co-accused, who were all released on R2,000 bail each.  Their cases were postponed to 18 June for a pre-trial at the North West High Court sitting in Mogwase.  The accused were arrested for an incident in Marikana on 13 August 2012, which led to the deaths of two police officers and three striking mine workers.  Earlier Mpembe appeared with three others charged with defeating the ends of justice, contravening the Commission Act and contravening the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) Act.  They allegedly failed to disclose that one of the Lonmin striking mine workers died in police custody on 16 August, while he was being transport in a police vehicle.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read too, Marikana top cop accused of lying to Farlam Commission, at Timeslive. And also, Marikana trail delay may not be a problem, says Institute for Security Studies, at The Citizen


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / RELATED REPORTS

Striking Gauteng mortuary workers return to duties following court order

News24 reports that striking forensic pathology workers have returned to work following a court order, the Gauteng department of health said on Sunday.  They embarked on an unprotected strike on 7 March, demanding formal training from the Department of Health and bodies have been piling up at government mortuaries across Gauteng.  The Germiston mortuary was the worst affected.  On Thursday, the health department applied for a court interdict against the striking workers and the Labour Court ruled on Friday that all workers should return to work with immediate effect.  Gauteng health department spokesperson Lesemang Matuka indicated that the Health Professions Council had finalised the requirements for a formal training course.

Read this report by Iavan Pijoos in full at News24. See too, Gauteng health department welcomes ruling that pathology workers must resume duties, at EWN

Numsa members down tools at Northern Cape renewable energy firm Abengoa SA

The New Age reports that members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) have downed tools at Abengoa South Africa in the Northern Cape, claiming that workers at the renewable energy plants do not get any benefits.  Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said on Sunday:  “They are denied medical aid, a housing allowance, a provident fund and other benefits.  Their wages are spent on covering all these expenses.  This is why the entire workforce is on strike, to demand higher wages and benefits.”  He added:  “The energy minister claimed that these firms would bring ‘entrepreneurial opportunities’ in our rural communities.  Our members can confirm that this is hogwash.  There is very little development and certainly no opportunities for entrepreneurship in the surrounding area of the firm.”  Numsa said it was not opposing renewable energy, but was calling for a just transition to renewable energy.  The union claims that Eskom’s IPP procurement programme would result in job losses.  “Eskom has confirmed that when the IPP contracts are signed, five Eskom power plants in Mpumalanga would be put on ‘cold reserve’.  This is a kind way of saying there will be job losses.  They will cut hours which will drastically reduce pay, and eventually they will retrench those workers,” the union said.

Read this report in full at The New Age

Numsa condemns Greenpeace statement on IPP interdict

EWN reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is disappointed by Greenpeace Africa’s statement that the union is sabotaging renewable energy in favour of coal, and in the process standing in the way of progress.  The NGO has accused Numsa of inexplicably defending and protecting the coal industry, which disproportionately exploits people and natural resources in pursuit of profits.  This after Numsa and Transform RSA were last week granted an urgent court interdict preventing Eskom from signing 27 contracts with the independent renewable energy suppliers (IPPs).  The union said it interdicted the energy minister from signing the contracts because of the negative impact it would have on the working-class majority.  Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola stated:  “We are aware of Greenpeace’s ideological proclivity to capitalism and therefore we are not surprised at its irrational defence of the 27 IPPs and its diatribe against workers and their families.”  According to the union, it has “the most advanced scientific and social vision for transiting from coal to safe renewable energy.”

This short report by Koketšo Motau is at EWN


UNION NEWS / STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

Saftu’s potential Nedlac membership in hands of rival federations

BusinessLive reports that the application by the country’s youngest labour federation, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), to join the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), is being considered by the institution’s labour constituents.  This means Saftu’s fate lies in the hands of its rival union federations, namely Cosatu, Fedusa and Nactu, which are the founding members of the council’s labour constituency.  Saftu’s application was received on 6 March.  Saftu, which is led by former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, has claimed that Nedlac was systematically keeping it out of the council.  But, Nedlac’s executive director, Madoda Vilakazi, dismissed the claim, adding that there was "no attempt to sideline Saftu".  Other constituencies represented at the council are business, government and the community.

A short report by Theto Mahlakoana is at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Court tells Samwu to pay its R2.4m debt, at Security.co.za (The Star)


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Saftu welcomes NPA’s decision to prosecute Zuma

EWN reports that the decision by National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, to prosecute former president Jacob Zuma for the string of charges that had been brought against him in 2009 has been widely welcomed.  The SA Federation of Trade Unions said on Saturday:  “At long last the tide has turned against a political leader who bankrupted the nation through his systematic looting of the country to enrich himself, his family and his cronies at the expense of the people, especially workers and the poor.”  But the decision to prosecute the ex-president does not stop there, as Saftu, as well as the Democratic Alliance, want NPA head, Shaun Abrahams to go.  Saftu’s Patrick Craven said:  “The big question then will be who will replace him and I hope that the new head of the NPA will not hesitate to bring additional charges as and when new evidence becomes available which I’m sure it will if not already there on their files.”

Read this report by Kaylynn Palm in full at EWN. Read too, Jacob Zuma will be prosecuted, NPA boss announces, at TimesLive. Read Saftu’s press statement at Saftu online

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Numsa wants Israel to free Ahed Tamimi, at eNCA


ECONOMICS / PRICES / PRODUCTIVITY

Poultry producer Astral wants chicken to be VAT zero-rated

BusinessLive reports that poultry producer Astral indicated in a press release on Thursday that chicken should be exempt from value added tax (VAT).  Under the existing laws, there are 19 basic food items that escape VAT and, with the exception of tinned pilchards and sardines, all of the VAT-exempt food items are vegetarian.  The increase in VAT to 15% in April from the 14% it had been for the past 25 years would hurt consumers who relied on chicken for their main source of protein, Astral argued.  The producer went on to state:  “Chicken is the cheapest source of meat protein in SA and now forms a large part of the basic diet of the South African population, with consumption at close to 40kg per person per year.”

Read this report by Robert Laing in full at BusinessLive


LABOUR MARKET / EMPLOYMENT / JOB LOSSES

Jobs shed as cooked meat sales dip due to listeriosis outbreak

Mail & Guardian reports that the red meat industry is already feeling the effects of a nationwide recall of certain ready-to-eat meat products linked to the listeriosis outbreak that has led to the deaths of 183 people so far.  As products such as polony and viennas have been pulled from retail shelves, meat processing and manufacturing have slowed dramatically and jobs are already being lost, according to the Red Meat Industry Forum.  Although the feedback from the industry is still only preliminary, the manufacturing of processed meats is down by roughly 50%, according to the forum’s general manager, Michelle de Lange.  Retail sales of processed meats, meanwhile, were down by about 80%, said De Lange.  Smaller manufacturers have been hardest hit and have already begun retrenching staff.  “It is estimated that roughly 20% of jobs are being laid off in the manufacturing sector as a result.  The impact is severe,” said De Lange.  If monthly overheads could not be recovered, she said, this could lead to greater financial losses and possibly even company closures.  There are about 200 processing facilities across the country.

Read this report by Lynley Donnelly in full at M&G online


EMPLOYMENT EQUITY / AFFIRMATIVE ACTION / EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

Anger over possible anti-Indian quotas for eThekwini top jobs

Sunday Tribune reports that managers at the eThekwini Municipality have lashed out at the prospect of a municipal employment equity bill being passed that would prevent Indian, white or coloured people from taking up senior positions.  The bill, which is in its draft stage, would replace the 2014-2018 bill that had identified over-representation of Indian men in senior management as an issue that needed to be addressed.  While querying the bill with eThekwini’s Human Resources (HR) department, a manager was told that the three race groups would be excluded from grade 14-25 (senior management) positions.  City manager, Sipho Nzuza, said it was premature to comment as the bill was in the draft stage.  He said the city planned to increase female representation, irrespective of colour and that people with disabilities would also be a focus area.  “We would not pass something that’s unconstitutional and it would still need to go through council in any event.  If the African race is under-represented in management then we would have to consider that as well but there is no cause for worry,” said Nzuza.  The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) said if there were too many Indian, white or coloured managers in senior positions, the issue did need to be addressed.  But there will have to be consultation, said Samwu’s regional deputy secretary, Nkosinathi Zuma.  A Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spokesperson said it would be against the constitution to exclude specific races from senior positions.

Read this report by Nabeelah Shaikh and Sboniso Mngadi in full at Sunday Tribune


REMUNERATION / NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

National minimum wage on track for roll-out by 1 May

BusinessLive reports that the national minimum wage (NMW) is set to be implemented in just over a month and the government hopes to have the bill governing the policy enacted in April.  It also intends to have the 13-member NMW commission that will monitor the policy’s effectiveness appointed by 1 May.  Last week stakeholders at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) finalised the NMW regulations, outlining how the policy will be operated.  They also discussed the details of how exemption applications by employers will be handled.  The regulations are ready for public comment.  But Nedlac parties have not reached an agreement on the 90% minimum wage threshold for categories of vulnerable employees such as farm workers.  The government has set the NMW at R20 per hour, or R3,500 a month, with a stipulation that employers have to pay workers a minimum of four hours a day.  The inspectorate services that will oversee the implementation will be at the Department of Labour, with their scope expanded to cover the NMW.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read too, National Minimum Wage is Ramaphosa’s first real test, at Daily Maverick


MEDICAL SCHEMES

VAT hike won’t hit medical premiums or benefits, but will affect products and services

Personal Finance reports that the increase in value-added tax VAT will not affect medical scheme contributions or benefits for the year, but it will affect the prices of medical products and services.  Members will thus have less buying power on their medical savings account when it comes to day-to-day expenses.  According to Gerhard van Emmenis of Bonitas Medical Fund, many members were confused as to whether VAT was payable on medical scheme contributions, but he gave the assurance that it was not.  “The VAT increase will have no effect on members directly and what they pay each month.  Medical scheme contributions for 2018 are already set and Bonitas will not increase contributions mid-year to accommodate the change in VAT.  So, while the increase in VAT may affect the price of services, it will not affect benefits,”   Van Emmenis indicated.  In fact, changing contribution rates in the middle of the year can be done only with the permission of the Council for Medical Schemes following a request from the trustees of the medical scheme, something that happens rarely.  Dr Jonathan Broomberg of Discovery Health said Discovery Health Medical Scheme would not be passing on the increased costs to its members.

Read this report by Martin Hesse in full at Personal Finance


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Eskom brings new charges against reinstated whistleblower Suzanne Daniels

EWN reports that Eskom has confirmed that fresh charges have been brought against its head of legal services Suzanne Daniels.  The charges include serious misconduct, distribution of confidential information, settlement of the McKinsey and Trillian matter, as well as her involvement in the Optimum and Tegeta mine pre-payments.  On 8 March the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) ruled that Eskom was guilty of an unfair labour practice in its two attempts to suspend Daniels in October and December last year.  The CCMA awarded Daniels five months' remuneration as compensation and ordered that she be allowed to return to work on 19 March 2018.  Eskom's spokesperson Dikatso Mothae said the CCMA's ruling did not make any decision relating to the disciplinary process.  “Those are the new charges that we have been brought forward…  The new board (members) are looking at this with a fresh perspective, a fresh eye and want to instil a certain level of governance in terms of how we deal with issues of misconduct across the board.”

Read this report by Katleho Sekhotho at EWN. Read too, Eskom again moves to suspend whistleblower Suzanne Daniels, at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • 'SABC interim board had no powers to fire Hlaudi Motsoeneng', at SowetanLive
  • DA pushing for Hlaudi to cough up R22m to SABC, at Security.co.za (The Star)
  • Motsoeneng laughs off DA suggestion he should pay back legal fees, at News24

 


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