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, 18 April 2018.


TOP STORY – BUS WAGE STRIKE

Countrywide bus strike commences on Wednesday

ANA reports that many commuters were left stranded and seeking alternative transport as bus operations came to a halt on Wednesday morning across the country after drivers went on strike over wages.  Drivers in the bus sector affiliated to the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) embarked on a national strike at 6am after wage negotiations with employer bodies, the Commuter Bus Employers Organisation and the SA Bus Employers Association (Sabea), reached a deadlock.  Satawu said as many as 17,000 workers were expected to join the strike.  The workers are demanding a 12% wage increase across the board, while employers are offering 7%.  Various bus companies have halted their operations, including Megabus; Gautrain Busses; Greyhound; Golden Arrow; MyCiti Bus in Cape Town; Rea Vaya in Johannesburg; Buscor in Mpumalanga; Bojanala in the North West; Algoa Bus in Port Elizabeth; Mayibuye in East London; Go George in George; Areyeng in Tshwane; Mgqibelo in Sedibeng; Lowveld Bus Company in Limpopo; PAL Bus in Mpumalanga; and Mphakathi in Mpumalanga, among others.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read too, Bus strike set to cause chaos across nation, at The Citizen

Stranded commuters‚ long queues as bus strike bites nationwide on Wednesday

SowetanLive reports that commuters navigated long‚ frustrating queues to board taxis‚ trains and share lifts as a national bus strike got under way on Wednesday.  Thousands of people were stranded or late getting to their destinations while some taxi owners said they were overwhelmed by the sheer number of passengers jostling for space on their vehicles.  Bus drivers represented by five unions are seeking a 12% salary increase‚ among other demands‚ but wage negotiations have deadlocked with employers offering 7%.  The strike affected commuters across the country – from Johannesburg to George‚ Mpumalanga to Cape Town‚ Limpopo and Port Elizabeth.  Cape Town appeared to be particularly hard hit.  A taxi owner said:  "Bus owners did not inform us about the strike and we couldn't make provision for additional vehicles."  Commuters at Cleary Park in Port Elizabeth said they too had to find alternative means of transport.  Bus services were also severely affected around Tshwane and there were reports of long-distance buses also not running in parts of the country.  There were long queues at the Bree Street taxi rank in Johannesburg.

Read this report in full at SowetanLive. See too, Durban buses to operate as normal amid transport protest, at The Mercury. And also, Sorry for stranding you‚ but we must feed our families, says bus driver, at Timeslive

Bus strike leaves thousands stranded, taxi services flooded across the country

News24 reports that thousands of commuters woke up to a crippling nationwide bus strike that kicked off at 05:30 on Wednesday and forced people to stand in long queues for taxis.  At least 50 bus companies were not operating across the country as the strike intensified.  The strike, over a wage dispute, put around 80% of the country's passenger buses on lockdown.  Workers are demanded a 12% increase across the board, while their employers have offered 7%. A strike notice was issued when wage negotiations at the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBC) deadlocked.  Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande said on Wednesday that all parties involved in the negotiations needed to urgently find a negotiated settlement.  "The only reasonable outcome that government expects from the negotiations, is the immediate resumption of bus operations, whilst labour and employers are finding a permanent solution to the impasse," Nzimande said.  A SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) shop steward commented:  "We are waiting for labour and management to go back to the negotiation table.  This is a lock-out strike.  All companies have locked out the premises.  That is why we are outside."  In a statement, Golden Arrow Bus Services said negotiations were still taking place and it remained "hopeful that an agreement can still be reached".

Read this report by Kaveel Singh, Amanda Khoza and Derrick Spies in full at News24. See too, Bus strike: Some bus commuters dreading wait to get home, at EWN


RETIREMENT FUNDS

Brian Molefe could face criminal charges over illegal Eskom pension

The Citizen reports that according to a legal expert, there is an obvious and clear prospect that former Eskom boss Brian Molefe could be successfully prosecuted on criminal charges relating to his massive illegal pension payout.  Attorney Llewellyn Curlewis, who is a senior lecturer in criminal procedure at the University of Pretoria, said that the view of a full bench of the High Court in Pretoria that there was at least incriminating prima facie evidence against Molefe in itself suggested there was a reasonable prospect of a successful prosecution.  Two judges on Tuesday dismissed Molefe’s application for leave to appeal against their ruling that the R11 million pension payout he received from Eskom had been unlawful and that he should pay it back.  The court found there was a strong inference that Eskom and Molefe had deliberately devised a scheme to afford him pension benefits, in the form of a multimillion-rand early retirement package to which he was not entitled.  Curlewis said apart from the criminal charges already laid against Molefe by trade union Solidarity, he would expect the state to seriously consider prosecuting Molefe.

Read this report by Ilse de Lange in full at The Citizen

Brian Molefe must pay back Eskom's millions by Friday at 11am, says Solidarity

ANA reports that trade union Solidarity has given former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe until Friday at 11am to pay back the money he unlawfully received from the power utility as part of the R30 million pension payout granted to him.  On Tuesday, Molefe lost his court bid to appeal a January high court judgment that ordered him to pay back the part payment of about R11 million that he has already received.  Shortly after the court rejected Molefe's application for leave to appeal, with costs, Solidarity wrote a letter to his legal team requesting written confirmation that he would adhere to the ruling and that he would pay back the funds that he received unlawfully by 11am on Friday, 20 April.  Dirk Hermann, the chief executive officer of Solidarity, said that Molefe deliberately enriched himself at the expense of Eskom and taxpayers, and now the time has come for him to pay for his actions.  "Our request is simple and clear, and if he fails to notify us in writing of his cooperation, we won’t hesitate to take further legal action against him," Hermann indicated.

Read this report at IOL News. Read Solidarity’s letter to Molefe’s lawyers at Solidarity News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • How law firm milked Municipal Councillors Pension Fund of R200m, at City Press


UNION NEWS / STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

Zingiswa Losi tipped to be next Cosatu president

Sowetan reports that there is a strong push under way within Cosatu to ensure that Zingiswa Losi, the labour federation’s second deputy president, is elected the first woman to lead the organisation at its national congress later this year.  S’dumo Dlamini, who has been Cosatu president for more than two terms, is unlikely to stand for re-election as he appears to have lost his power grip at the federation.  This was evident when he was criticised by his own comrades for attending former president Jacob Zuma’s lavish birthday party when Cosatu had taken a stand that Zuma should step down.  On Tuesday, Cosatu affiliates such as the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) gave the strongest indications yet that they preferred a woman to succeed Dlamini.  Denosa Gauteng chairman Simphiwe Gada said some have viewed Losi as better than the male leaders that surround her.  Popcru’s Richard Mamabolo said:  “We are a nonsexist organisation.”  Piet Matosa, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, said Losi was not elected to her current position based on gender, but because of her ability in “implementing the federation’s resolutions”.

Read more of this report by Ngwako Modjadji at SA Labour News


PRICES / TARIFFS

Consumer inflation slows unexpectedly in March to 3.8%

BusinessLive reports that consumer inflation slowed to 3.8% in March, surprising economists who had expected it to accelerate slightly from February’s 4%.  But, inflation is likely to rise in April when the increase in value added tax (VAT) took effect.  The slowdown in inflation in March, as measured by the annual change in the consumer price index (CPI), was helped by March’s 36c/litre drop in petrol and 47c/litre drop in diesel prices.  Statistics SA reported on Wednesday that the transport component of CPI fell 0.7% from February to January.  Over the year, transport was 2.8% more expensive.  The food component of CPI showed annual inflation of 3.6%, with deflation of 4.8% for bread and cereals mitigating a 10% rise in meat prices.

A short report by Sunita Menon is at BusinessLive


APPOINTMENTS / PROMOTIONS

SAPS needs R2bn to promote 66,000 officers

The Mercury reports that Police Minister Bheki Cele told MPs on Tuesday that the police needed R2-billion to promote 66,000 officers, who have not received promotions for several years.  Cele, who was briefing the police portfolio committee, said he wanted the officers to be accorded the promotions they deserved.  “Any organisation, for it to function, you need to deal with personnel,” he said when the SA Police Service (SAPS) top brass made a presentation on its 2018/19 budget.  Cele indicated that he had spoken to the national police commissioner about the outstanding promotions and had told him that “we had to find this money”, but that he not raised it with the president.  The minister said the promotions would have to possibly be carried out over two financial years if the required funds were ultimately found.  Committee chairman Francois Beukman said it was important that there was a career path for police officers and that it was going to be a priority for the committee.  Gareth Newham of the Institute of Security Studies commented that the figure given by Cele was a third of the SAPS workforce and said:  “The current budget framework for the next three years is not going to allow for massive promotions because it is going to cost too much.  He has to find another way to assist the officers if he believes they need to be recognised and rewarded for work.”

Read more of this report by Mayibongwe Maqhina at SA Labour News


LABOUR LAW AMENDMENTS / NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

Business Unity SA supports labour law amendments, but concerned about risks

Engineering News reports that Business Unity SA (Busa) has voiced its support for amendments to legislation to introduce provisions to enhance labour relations stability and the implementation of a National Minimum Wage (NMW).  However, the employers’ lobby group warned that the risks to employment and business, particularly smaller and emerging businesses, had to be carefully managed.  In its submission to the Portfolio Committee on Labour on Wednesday, Busa stood behind the provisions contained in the Labour Relations Amendment Bill that reflected a “delicate package” of compromises arising out of the Nedlac negotiations.  Key provisions include compulsory default picketing rules for all industrial action; making the requirement for a secret ballot explicit; and the introduction of advisory arbitration aimed at resolving prolonged or violent strikes.  In addition, in relation to the NMW amendments, Busa stated that, while the wage level was considerably higher than an economically efficient level, it recognised the need for SA to address wage inequality and for the most vulnerable workers to be protected.  Busa expressed particular concern that the NMW exemption system should operate efficiently and be accessible for businesses regardless of size.

Read this report in full at Engineering News. Read too, What is worrying Busa about start-ups and the minimum wage, at BusinessLive


DISCRIMINATION / RACISM / SEXISM

Discrimination row sees Mark Lamberti resign as Imperial CEO

Timeslive reports that Mark Lamberti has resigned as Imperial CEO‚ following an adverse judgment in the case brought by fired employee Adila Chowan‚ whom he called a “female employment equity candidate”.  Imperial has promoted its chief financial officer‚ Osman Arbee‚ to succeed Lamberti as CEO on 1 May.  Lamberti’s departure from Imperial‚ announced on Wednesday morning‚ follows his resignations from the boards of Eskom and Business Leadership SA (BLSA).  Imperial said in a statement:  “The [Imperial] board has noted the content and tone of the judgment‚ in which there is no finding of defamation‚ racism or sexism despite extensive and frequently inaccurate publicity directed at Mr Lamberti suggesting that there was.  In light of this‚ Mr Lamberti has resigned in the interests of the Imperial group and its stakeholders‚ who may be prejudiced by such publicity.”  Imperial said its board "has further resolved to implement corrective action to address deficiencies in Imperial’s gender and race relations culture highlighted in the judgment‚ bearing in mind substantial progress in gender and racial transformation".

Read this report by Robert Laing in full at Timeslive. See too, Saftu celebrates Mark Lamberti’s resignation from Imperial, at EWN


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Eskom investigating 239 cases of misconduct by officials

Fin24 reports that Eskom is investigating 239 cases of misconduct by officials, the portfolio committee on public enterprises heard on Wednesday.  Members of Eskom’s board, including deputy chair Sindi Mabaso-Koyana, acting CEO Phakamani Hadebe and acting CFO Calib Cassim, briefed the committee on the power utility’s annual performance and turnaround plan.  Mabaso-Koyana spoke on the steps Eskom was taking to address corruption at the power utility and said:  “The organisation is determined to clear the company of corruption of all its forms.  We are investigating 239 cases that come through whistle-blowing channels.”  By the end of March 2018, 75 of the investigations had been completed and 39 were already undergoing disciplinary processes.  Eskom has an internal forensic team of 104 members conducting the investigations, including external support.  "We do believe that we are fast tracking (the process).  Each case is being unpacked and must follow due process," Mabaso-Koyana indicated.  Since the new board took over in January, five senior management employees, including executives have left given “serious allegations of misconduct”.  A further four have been suspended.  Two will face an independent disciplinary hearing in April and the remaining two will face a hearing in May

Read this report by Lameez Omarjee in full at Fin24


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT SERVICES

MPs told that Prasa is losing millions of customers because of unreliable service

ANA reports that MPs heard on Tuesday that the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) is continuing to lose paying customers by the millions.  Briefing Parliament’s portfolio committee on transport on the state-owned rail company’s annual performance plan, Prasa group chief strategy officer, Sipho Sithole, said the number of passenger trips for paying customers went from a baseline of 633m to 372m in the 2016/17 financial year.  Between 1 April and 31 December last year, the number of paid passenger trips dipped to just 210.94m – an indication of commuters’ frustration with a service which is often not reliable.  Moreover, customer satisfaction sat at 59.4%, which is apparently the lowest in the history of the organisation.  Sithole said to retain customers and improve their experience on Metrorail trains, Prasa needed some serious shaping up.  “It can’t go worse than what it is now… (we) must endeavour to recover the lost customers.  We can only achieve this if our trains are reliable, predictable and safe.”  Prasa has set some ambitious targets for the next three financial years, including a recovery in commuter trips to between 382.4m to 521.3m by 2020/21.  The rail operator also wants to reduce the number of train delays.

Read this report in full at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • It’s all systems Go! for new bus transport system in Pinetown, at Sunday Tribune


OTHER REPORTS

Outa goes to court to get SABC to up R10m claim against Hlaudi Motsoeneng

The Mercury reports that the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) wants the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to claim more than just R10-million from its former operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, for the damage he did at the public broadcaster.  In papers filed in the Gauteng High Court, Outa has applied to be amicus curiae (friends of the court) in the SABC’s case against Motsoeneng.  The SABC has launched legal action to prevent Motsoeneng from being paid out his pension benefits, claiming that it is owed R10.2m, alternatively R11.5m due to unlawful actions.  But Outa, in its court papers, argues that the claims are too limited and do not take into account the findings of the Public Protector’s report four years ago.  It also points out that according to pension fund legislation, pension benefits can only be withheld if a judgment has been granted against the employee for damages occurred by the employer.  Yet, Outa notes, the SABC has yet to bring a case for damages against Motsoeneng.  It also accuses the SABC of failing to take the recommended remedial action set out in the 2014 Public Protector’s report.  In the report, Motsoeneng was found to have committed misconduct, and it states that the irregular expenditure be recouped.

Read this report by Se-Anne Koopman in full at The Mercury. Read Outa’s press statement at Polity

Public sector employees still feeding off the state through their private businesses

BusinessLive reports that public sector employees continue to do significant amounts of business with the state despite it being prohibited because of the conflict of interest involved.  An amount of R8bn was paid to 2,349 businesses in which state employees were involved between April 2017 and end-January 2018.  These suppliers had 2,704 state employees listed on the government’s central supplier database as owners, directors or non-executive directors.  The people involved were employees of national and provincial governments, some municipalities and three public entities.  The figures were disclosed in a report by Treasury on state employees conducting business with government as at February 2018, as tabled in Parliament.  A total of 28,427 state employees were registered as owners, directors or non-executive directors of businesses on the database operated by the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer.  "It is safe to say that the numbers of employees identified to be owners/directors/non-executive directors of suppliers conducting business with government are understated," the report indicated.  The DA’s David Ross said the statistics were "shocking" and in "gross violation" of the Public Service Act and Regulations.  He pointed out that public servants doing business with the state had been given a deadline of 31 January 2017 to either resign from the public service or relinquish their business interests.

Read this report by Linda Ensor in full at BusinessLive

 


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