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
Tuesday, 17 April 2018.


TOP STORY – BRIAN MOLEFE LOSES APPEAL

Brian Molefe must pay back the Eskom pension money, as well as Solidarity’s costs

BusinessLive reports that former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe will have to pay back the pension money afforded him and will not get his job back after the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday dismissed his application for leave to appeal a previous judgment.  Molefe wanted the court to overturn a January ruling by the full bench of the court that ordered him to repay R11m in pension payments, which had been unlawfully made to him by the Eskom Pension Fund.  In January, the court described the R30m early-retirement deal entered into by Eskom and Molefe as a "deliberate scheme" concocted after he resigned from Eskom in 2016, as he was never entitled to the benefits because he had been in Eskom’s employ for only 18 months.  As part of his appeal, Molefe also unsuccessfully sought to challenge a ruling that he had indeed initially resigned as Eskom CEO and that his subsequent reinstatement had been unlawful.  Anton van der Bijl of Solidarity’s Centre for Fair Labour Practices said they were elated by the judgment, as it meant their arguments had held water in court.  Van der Bijl added that Solidarity’s costs, for which Molefe might have to foot the bill, could amount to as much as R1m.

Read this report by Claudi Mailovich at BusinessLive. Read Solidarity’s press statement at Solidarity News. Read too, Court refuses Brian Molefe leave to appeal pension payout ruling, at The Citizen. And also, Judges took just two minutes to refuse Brian Molefe leave to appeal, at IOL News

Brian Molefe won’t pay back an amount he doesn’t agree with, says his lawyer

ANA reports that former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and his legal team intend to regroup and ponder their next move after the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday refused them leave to appeal a January decision that ordered Molefe to pay back all money received as part of a payout from the power utility’s pension fund.  The court also ordered Molefe to pay the costs of the action “including the cost of two counsel who was so employed”.  Molefe’s lawyer, Barry Farber, said it was not a foregone conclusion that Molefe’s next move would be to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal to hear his case.  “We need his instructions, I can’t tell a client what to do,” said Farber.  The lawyer added that Molefe would now abide by the high court’s decision, “but he is not going to pay back that which he does not think he should.  That is something else that needs to be deliberated on and debated.  Surely, he is a law-abiding citizen and he will abide by the court for sure.”  Meanwhile, Solidarity insisted on Tuesday that Molefe has to pay back the R11 at issue immediately, or further action would be instituted.  The trade union’s CE Dirk Hermann said:  “He has to do it [the payment] immediately.  That money is unlawful, it was money meant to enrich him to the detriment of Eskom and the taxpayers.  From a criminal point of view, that also boils down to fraud.”  He added that they had also laid criminal charges against Molefe.  

Read this report in full at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Former Eskom boss Brian Molefe loses bid to get his old job back, at Timeslive


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Numsa calls for shutdown of Nigel steel plant after furnace blast

Fin24 reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has called for the shutdown of Fortune Steel in Nigel, outside Gauteng, following workplace injuries on Saturday night.  In a media statement, the trade union said that at least seven workers were injured when a furnace exploded.  One of the injured is in a critical condition at a hospital in Alberton after he sustained extensive injuries to the head, chest and arms.  Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola claimed that Fortune Steel had tried to downplay the severity of the incident.  “This incident occurred less than 24 hours after Numsa members marched and protested against the company on Friday.  Our members are fed up with Fortune Steel because it is an abusive company which acts with impunity,” said Hlubi-Majola.  Fortune Steel did not immediately reply to a request for comment around what caused the injuries, the nature of the blast and its reaction to the union’s call for a shutdown.

Read this report in full at Fin24


MINING LABOUR

NUM calls on police to speed up probe into mining killings

ANA reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has called on the police to speed up investigations into the killings of mineworkers in Marikana in North West province.  “We call upon the state to speed up its investigation and arrest all those who are involved in the killings of mineworkers in Marikana, including the brutal murder of comrade Mninawe Deleki who was shot in front of his family,” NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said on Monday.  Deleki was NUM branch chairperson at Lonmin’s Eastern Platinum Mine.  He was shot and killed at his house in Bapong at the end of January this year.  Mammburu said the union noted media reports about the recent arrests of mineworkers in Marikana associated with the killings of other mine workers.  He claimed categorically that all the 13 accused people were members and former leaders of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), except for Petersen Siyaya and Nkosinathi Mantashe.  Mammburu called on the state to release Peterson Siyaya as there was no tangible evidence against him.  He also claimed that a “prominent private investigator” had been hired to “frame” NUM members.

Read this report in full at The Citizen


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Nationwide bus strike over wages set to start on Wednesday

News24 reports that the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBC) said on Monday that a nationwide bus strike was set to start on Wednesday.  The strike will put at least 80% of the country's passenger buses on lock-down over a pay dispute.  "The impact is going to be felt right across the republic," Gary Wilson of SARPBC said.  He also indicated that the SARPBC would be applying for the help of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in terms of section 150 of the Labour Relations Act, which could give the Minister of Transport permission to step in and help resolve the impasse.  SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) spokesperson Zanele Sabela said Satawu, the Transport and Omnibus Workers' Union, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the Tirisano Transport Workers' Union had been negotiating with employers since January.  The negotiations have been facilitated by the SARPBC with the employer associations, the Commuter Bus Employers' Organisation and SA Bus Employers' Association.  Among their demands, the unions want a 12% across-the-board wage increase and a minimum basic wage of R8,000 per month.  Employers apparently want to keep the current basic minimum wage of R6,070 and for first-timers to earn R6,070 regardless of whether a company's minimum wage was higher or not.

Read this report by Jenni Evans in full at News24. See too, Bus strike to leave thousands stranded in Cape Town, at Timeslive

Health department considers using military to distribute medicines in strike-hit North West

BusinessLive reports that the health department is considering using the military to help distribute medicine in North West, where a protracted strike by the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has brought the central pharmacy depot to a standstill.  Hospitals and clinics have only days left of essential supplies, placing lives at risk, according to civil-society organisations monitoring the crisis.  Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi was interacting with stakeholders to try to resolve the situation and officials were weighing up several practical options for getting medicines to patients, said the minister’s spokesman, Popo Maja.  Practical options for providing medicines to patients in the interim included using the military to distribute supplies and providing collection points, or setting up private sector collection points.  Nehawu has tabled a series of demands that include salary increases and the dismissal of North West’s head of health, Thabo Lekalakala.  Patients were being sent away from healthcare facilities empty-handed or with smaller quantities of medicines than usual, said Amir Shroufi of Medicines Sans Frontières SA.

Read this report by Tamar Kahn in full at BusinessLive


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Amcu lashes out at Ramaphosa 'courting' Malema with Marikana widows visit

News24 reports that Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), said on Monday that the victims of the Marikana massacre should not be used as instruments to mend relations between the ANC and the EFF.  He wrote in an open letter:  "We were unpleasantly surprised in the recent address at the funeral of our struggle icon and heroine Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela that the state president has courted the leadership of the EFF to nicodemusly (secretly) go and apologise to the widows of the Marikana massacre."  This was after ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa said at the funeral at the weekend that he would take EFF leader Julius Malema with him "to heal the wounds of those in Marikana".  Ramaphosa said Madikizela-Mandela had promised that she would take him to Marikana to formally apologise to the widows of the 34 miners who were killed by police.  "I am going to go to Marikana without you, but I will be guided by your spirit," Ramaphosa stated.  “The suggestion that the EFF leadership can provide access to the widows of the Marikana victims is misleading and an underhand attempt to undermine Amcu in this reconciliation process," Mathunjwa wrote.  He urged Ramaphosa to review his approach.

Read this report by Jenna Etheridge in full at News24. Read Joseph Mathunjwa’s open letter at Amcu News


AUTOMATION / FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

SA ‘could lose 5.7 million jobs to robots over next seven years’

ANA reports that a seminar held at the University of Stellenbosch Business School on Monday heard that around 5.7 million jobs in SA would be at risk over the next seven years due to digital automation.  This would have a crippling effect in a country where there is a staggering 27.7% unemployment and where jobless youths make up 75% of unemployment.  Dr Roze Phillips, MD of Accenture Consulting in Africa, said that SA needed to act now to ensure that humans and machines could work together in the future, adding that, with the threat of automation growing, “South Africa is less prepared than other countries and needs to give its workforce skills to participate in the digital economy.”  She went on to say:  “Our research shows that if South Africa can double the pace at which its workforce acquires skills relevant for human-machine collaboration, it can reduce the number of jobs at risk from 3.5 million (20%) in 2025 to just 2.5 million.”  Phillips further said that in a country like SA where poverty rates of unemployment were high and social security questionable, it was vital for the country to upskill its people to collaborate with machines to enhance their own productivity.  Moreover, it was not just manual labour jobs at risk as bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks have the highest risk of automation.

Read this report in full at The Citizen


PRICES / TARIFFS

Cosatu vehemently rejects Eskom’s appeal for more money

Engineering News reports that labour federation Cosatu has rejected Eskom’s appeal to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to recover its costs in the provision of electricity, calling it “unaffordable, unreasonable and unjustifiable”.  “We have no faith in Eskom.  We completely reject Eskom’s tariff hike application,” Cosatu parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks told public hearings held by Nersa on Monday.  He said Eskom had received above-inflation hikes since 2008, but that the power utility “will come back next year with another story.  We are feeding the bailout addictions to a drug addict of some sort.”  Parks said a bailout and the subsequent steep electricity tariff hikes would have a devastating impact on industry, particularly the mining industry, as well as on small, medium-sized and microenterprises and investment   It would also deter overseas investors and impact on inflation.  He added that workers and consumers, already facing a barrage of rising taxes, such as higher value-added tax and fuel levies, would suffer and have to pay for past corruption in Eskom.  Cosatu also expressed concern about feared job cuts at Eskom arising from threats to close power stations in Mpumalanga.

Read this report in full at Engineering News


REMUNERATION

Gauteng Health Department starts paying doctors’ overtime

ANA reports that the Gauteng Department of Health said on Monday that it would begin the process of paying overtime claims for hundreds of doctors in the province.  Democratic Alliance (DA) health spokesperson in Gauteng, Jack Bloom, indicated on Sunday that many doctors at provincial state hospitals had not been paid for overtime and had been told that the department did not have money to pay them.  Apparently overtime had not been paid to doctors at the Tembisa, Leratong and Yusuf Dadoo hospitals and probably other hospitals as well.  Bloom said that aggrieved doctors were threatening to stop working at night, on weekends and on public holidays.  The department advised in a statement on Monday:  “After learning that there were employees who were not paid overtime corrective measures were taken and all those who provided their services will be paid by the 30th of April.”  The department added that all the doctors owed for overtime had been advised to contact their hospital chief executives or head office should they experience further challenges.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read the health department’s press statement at SA Govt News


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

Minimum wages should be sectoral and set by independent panel, says DA

BusinessLive reports that the Democratic Alliance (DA) has rejected a blanket national minimum wage (NMW), arguing that this would lead to job losses and lock out the unemployed from the labour market.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, Parliament’s labour portfolio committee will receive oral presentations from various stakeholders on three labour bills.  The bills propose the setting of a NMW at R20 per hour or R3,500 a month, except for domestic and farm workers, whose rate will be set at R15 and R18 an hour.  Noting that the amendments would replace the current sectoral minimum wage approach with a blanket NMW, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said on Monday:  "While intending to raise the living standards of poor South Africans, these laws will only lead to jobs losses, and uncertainly and volatility for the most vulnerable workers.  We therefore cannot support such legislation.  We will be making written submissions on this matter, to ensure that the voice of the unemployed is heard."  The DA proposes instead the establishment of an independent panel mandated to set minimum wages for each sector.  The panel would take into consideration all relevant factors, including the need to create jobs.  The DA’s federal council will also be considering the idea of a job seekers’ exemption certificate, which would give unemployed persons the right to take jobs at a wage they found acceptable.

Read this detailed report by Bekezela Phakathi in full at BusinessLive. See too, DA calls for each sector to have its own minimum wage, at Fin24

Business Unity SA concerned about national minimum wage exemptions

Timeslive reports that Business Unity SA (Busa) is concerned about the provisions for exemption of employers from the national minimum wage (NMW) as provided for in the labour bills currently before parliament's labour committee.  Busa CEO Tanya Cohen made a presentation of the lobby group’s views on the National Minimum Wage Bill‚ the Basic Conditions of Employment (BCEA) Amendment Bill and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill during public hearings on Tuesday.  The BCEA Bill makes provisions for exemptions from the NMW for start-ups and small and medium enterprises that cannot afford to pay it.  The exemption may be granted for up to 12 months.  "Business is most concerned about the functionality of the exemption system as a mechanism to ensure that those businesses that genuinely are unable to afford the national minimum wage are provided with the opportunity to apply for exemption.  This is particularly pertinent for start-ups‚ small and medium enterprises‚" Cohen indicated.  She went on to say that business was moreover concerned that the exemption system should provide relatively easier pathways for exemption for employer organisations and parties to bargaining council agreements.

Read this report by Linda Ensor in full at Timeslive


DISCRIMINATION / RACISM / SEXISM

Mark Lamberti resigns from board of Business Leadership SA

BusinessLive reports that Imperial CEO Mark Lamberti has resigned from the board of Business Leadership SA (BLSA), which follows his recent resignation from the Eskom board.  This comes in the wake of the recent ruling in the High Court in Pretoria that found he had discriminated against a former employee.  Lamberti was BLSA’s longest-serving director.  BLSA chairman Jabu Mabuza said in a statement on Monday that its members were committed to “encouraging and empowering senior black leadership."  In the context of the court ruling, Mabuza added that the board appreciated Lamberti’s public apology in respect of the matter.  BLSA added that this was an important lesson for its members on managing transformation.  The court found that Lamberti had wrongfully impaired the dignity of former Imperial employee Adila Chowan by referring to her as a "female employment equity candidate".

Read this report by Sunita Menon in full at BusinessLive. See too, Mark Lamberti quits Business Leadership SA, at Fin24


CORRUPTION

Corruption crippling KZN education department, says teachers’ union Natu

eNCA reports that according to the National Teachers’ Union (Natu), the KwaZulu-Natal Basic Education Department is on the brink of collapse.  The union has levelling a number of allegations of corruption against officials at the department.  Among these, the union has identified the overproduction of sanitary towels, in respect of which the department had budgeted R20-million but has so far spent over R100-million.  Also, the union says the sanitary towels produced do not meet industry standards.  The national Department of Basic Education has apparently agreed to investigate all the allegations the union has flagged.  KwaZulu-Natal officials said they need more time to look into the claims before responding.

Watch a video report on this story at eNCA

 


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