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
Thursday, 19 April 2018.


TOP STORY – BUS WAGE STRIKE

'Indefinite' bus strike continued on Thursday

News24 reports that the crippling nationwide bus strike entered its second day on Thursday.  Gary Wilson, secretary general of the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC), said on Wednesday:  "The bus strike continues tomorrow.  We have managed to get all parties to meet in Johannesburg tomorrow at the bargaining table.  Hopefully we can persuade the parties to reach an agreement."  At least 50 bus companies were not operating on Wednesday across the country and thousands of commuters had to make alternative plans.  The wage strike put around 80% of the country's passenger buses on lockdown.  The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said it was satisfied with the participation of its members in the bus sector in the strike.  "We must say our members certainly heeded the call to stay away from work," said Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi.  She said the union was hoping for a resolution soon.

A short report by Jenna Etheridge is at News24

Two days set aside for talks as CCMA intervenes in nationwide bus strike

News24 reports that unions and employer associations are expected to meet at the bargaining table at 10:00 on Thursday as the nationwide bus strike enters its second day.  The talks have been set down for two days, according to a letter the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) sent to the unions.  The CCMA was acting in terms of a section of the Labour Relations Act that allows it to offer its help in resolving a public interest dispute through conciliation.  The SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) approached the CCMA for help, and had been waiting for the unions – the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the Tirisano Transport Workers Union – to give the go-ahead for the intervention.  The employer associations, the Commuter Bus Employers Organisation and SA Bus Employers Association, had already committed to the CCMA process.  The strike, over a wage dispute, has put around 80% of the country's passenger buses on lockdown.

Read this report by Jenna Etheridge in full at News24. Read too, Bus strike has been effective‚ say unions, at Timeslive. And also, Commuters take strain as bus strike continues, at Timeslive

Taxi drivers coining it as national bus drivers’ strike bites

ANA reports that the national strike by bus drivers on Wednesday boosted business for taxi drivers who did not have to drive around scouting for passengers as they normally would have done.  Commuters across the country were left stranded after bus drivers affiliated to the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the Transport and Omnibus Workers’ Union (Towu) boycotted work, demanding a minimum monthly salary of R8,000 and a 12% salary hike.  Taxi driver Mafika Sibeko said he sympathised with the striking workers, but was happy for the resulting extra business for him.  He stated:  “Usually it is hard to get people going to Rustenburg town, but today I did not struggle.  People were grouped everywhere along the road.  We were calling each other on where to find people as they are waiting.”  Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela said the strike would continue indefinitely.

A short report is at The Citizen

Taxi drivers ‘attack motorists’ in Pretoria giving lifts to stranded commuters

The Citizen reports that taxis were cashing in on the absence of buses on the streets of Pretoria on Wednesday as bus operators went on strike.  But in Mamelodi, some motorists complained that they were intimidated by taxi drivers when they wanted to give lifts to stranded commuters.  One motorist said:  “Why can’t I take a few passengers in my car?  We are intimidated by taxi drivers when we ferry these stranded people.  Is it a crime to help out our fellow community members?”  Other motorists alleged that they had been attacked for giving lifts to colleagues or relatives.  Despite the allegations of intimidation, the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) and the Gauteng Traffic Police said there had been no reports of violence related to the strike by midday.  Gauteng Traffic Police’s Busaphi Nxumalo said nothing had been reported and so far it had been a peaceful strike, but she had heard people reporting on a radio station that they had been stopped by the taxi association squad car and told they did not have permission to convey people for payment.

Read this report by Jonisayi Maromo in full at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Bus strike continues ahead of CCMA meeting, at Cape Argus
  • Cosatu slams Golden Arrow for letting down working-class commuters, at M&G


NORTH WEST HEALTH CARE CRISIS

Health sector union asks Ramaphosa to intervene in North West health crisis

Timeslive reports that the Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA (Hospersa) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to urgently intervene in the ailing state of public health in the North West.  The North West Department of Health (DoH) has been the subject of a number of irregular contracts awarded by senior officials‚ with some implicated in a string of dodgy deals‚ said Hospersa’s Noel Desfontaines.  He pointed out that the province had also been hit by disruptions in service delivery‚ resulting in many public health facilities closing down due to industrial action by public service unions over poor working conditions.  “We are not surprised that health workers in the province are now resorting to such drastic measures to get government to address their demands” Desfontaines said.  The union appealed to its members not to engage in any form of vandalism and intimidation or in any deliberate closure of health facilities.  In his intervention‚ the president was requested to address the deep levels of corruption and maladministration within the province’s DoH.

Read this report by Kgaugelo Masweneng in full at Timeslive. Read Hospersa’s press statement in this regard at SA Labour News

Other related internet posting(s)

  • North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo suspends health dept HOD over Mediosa contract, at News24
  • Mayhem in Mahikeng: Looting and loathing in the North West, at Timeslive
  • Mahikeng shutdown continues amid mounting calls for Mahumapelo to resign, at IOL News
  • Embattled Supra Mahumapelo calls for calm in burning North West, at BusinessLive


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Two security guards killed in East Rand shooting on Thursday

EWN reports that two people were killed in a shooting in Tsakane on the East Rand on Thursday morning.  Apparently a gunman opened fire on a vehicle with three occupants, which left two security guards dead and wounded an official in the taxi sector.  The survivor is in a critical condition in hospital.  The police's Mavela Masondo said:  “The victims were driving in a Volkswagen GTI when they were blocked by a suspect.  The suspect started shooting at the victim using automatic rifles.”  Police are investigating whether the murder is related to the recent taxi violence in the area.

A short report by Mia Lindeque is at EWN


MINING LABOUR

Mantashe stresses importance of partnerships for mining sustainability

Mining Weekly reports that Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe on Wednesday stressed the importance of partnerships between mining companies and labour, as well as with communities, for mining to be sustainable.  Speaking at the inaugural KwaZulu-Natal Mining Indaba, in Newcastle, he noted that such partnership would ensure that the country realised its objective of creating a meaningfully transformed, competitive and growing mining sector.  “It’s not competitiveness and growth versus transformation.  Both are required in order for the sustainability of the sector.  We are consulting communities on the Mining Charter.  We are focusing on transformation and competitive mining industry," Mantashe said.  He further emphasised the importance of the rehabilitation of old mining sites, which have the potential to create jobs, while restoring the land that has been mined.  However, nonprofit organisation GroundWork on Wednesday said it was disappointed that the event had restricted community participation to only three participants, which would result in the true state of mining in the area not being meaningfully discussed.

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly. See too, KZN mining indaba aims to transform the mining sector, at Business Report. And also, Ramaphosa, Mantashe bring wave of optimism to mining sector, says expert Warren Beech, at Fin24

Postings on Mining Charter

  • Gwede Mantashe’s mixed message: he still wants too much intervention, at BusinessLive


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Unions to pronounce on Monday on way forward in respect of public sector wage talks

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the public sector unions represented in the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) expressed their frustration at the number of delays and obstacles presented by the employer, namely the state, in the finalisation of a wage agreement.  In that regard, they noted that the negotiations commenced in September 2017 and have been going on for seven months.  “Negotiators have reached the highest level of indignation having had to negotiate overnight on a few occasions in the interest of workers and the Public at large,” the statement reads.  It noted, however, that “the strike by the employer has to come to an end” and negotiations were set to resume on Wednesday, with the aim of ensuring that the process was completed by Friday, 20 April 2018.  The unions involved in the talks said they would decide and make a pronouncement on the way forward by no later than Monday, 23 April 2018.

Read the unions’ short statement at SA Labour News


STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES

Solidarity reveals mismanagement of funds in Denel Dossier

At a press briefing on Thursday, trade union Solidarity revealed in a report entitled Denel Dossier that top management at arms manufacturer Denel received salary increases of up to 60% last year.  These increases were awarded at the same time when the state-owned aerospace and defence technology conglomerate did not have the necessary funds to pay employees their full salaries in December.  Noting that Denel had been bailed out of financial difficulties by the government through several assistance packages, Dirk Hermann, Solidarity CEO, pointed out that the company had threatened to retrench hundreds of workers and, in spite of its financial crisis, had awarded top management performance bonuses of 100%.  According to the dossier, the weapons manufacturer deducted amounts from employees’ salaries as part of a savings plan, but because Denel’s financial position was in such dire straits the money was used to “finance mismanagement”.  In the report, Solidarity requests that Denel’s top management, including the Group CEO, Zwelakhe Ntshepe, and the CFO, Odwa Mhlwana, be suspended pending a forensic investigation.  The union further requests that financial mismanagement as alleged, circumvention of tender procedures, and contempt for internal policy be investigated.  Hermann indicated that the Denel Dossier would be handed to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan with the view to further action.

Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News


STAFFING / VACANCIES

SAPS public order policing unit more than 50% short on officers

ANA reports that MPs heard on Wednesday that the SA Police Service (SAPS) has enough budget for equipping its public order policing unit, but is still operating at 50% below the ideal number of members.  General Elias Mawela, who was briefing the portfolio committee on police, said:  “The public order policing is not at the level at which it was supposed to be, because according to our work study investigation we wanted to see ourselves standing at the ideal figure of 12,779 in order to be operating at the ideal figure.  But currently we are sitting at 5,600 members, so we are actually operating at below 50 percent…”  He added that since last year an allocation had been afforded to try to increase numbers “because we know that crime management is the game of numbers, if you don’t have numbers, members will operate as individual police.”  He said in regard to procurement of physical resources that the SAPS was on course and that in the last financial year they had managed to get more vehicles for public order policing.  The only area said to be lagging behind was procurement of protective gear for the unit’s members.

Read this report in full at The Citizen


ESOPS / SHARE PURCHASE SCHEMES

Resilient’s share plunge leaves employees working to repay their share purchase scheme loans

BusinessLive reports that until early January 2018, employees of Resilient were laughing all the way to the bank, but with the sharp drop in the value of Resilient’s share price, employees’ profit on their share investment has turned into a devastating loss.  For years, the property company has lent its workers loads of money to buy its own shares.  The R630m debt on the 8.4m outstanding shares in the scheme wasn’t a problem when, as at June 2017, this debt was comfortably covered by the shares, which were valued at just over R1bn.  But at the end of March 2018, the value of the shares had slumped to R419m, about R210m short of the debt owed.  High-profile reports critical of Resilient, and released in January, touched on the possibility that the company used employee share purchasing to bump up the share price.  "In general it’s regarded as bad practice and it’s poor corporate governance," said PwC’s remuneration specialist Gerald Seegers, who also referred to the commercial risk.  According to Seegers, it is no longer common practice.  But, if the Resilient share price doesn’t recover to at least R75 within the next few years the employees will be in a nightmarish debt trap and could find themselves working just to repay the loan on their scheme.  Leaving the company for fresher debt-free pastures might also not be an option as it’s likely to trigger repayment of any outstanding debts.

Read this report by Ann Crotty in full at BL Premium (paywall access). Read too, Resilient defends employee share plan, at BusinessLive


MEDICAL SCHEMES / NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Council for Medical Schemes presses on with draft plan to consolidate medical schemes industry

BusinessLive reports that it is expected that the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) will finalise a draft consultative framework on consolidating the medical schemes industry within two months.  Industry consolidation is in line with government policy on National Health Insurance (NHI), but is likely to run into fierce opposition from industry players and civil servants.  CEO Sipho Kabane indicated that the framework would contain proposals for consolidating government-funded schemes for public servants, reducing the number of scheme benefit options and consolidating schemes that had less than the statutory requirement of 6,000 members.  While the Medical Schemes Act stipulates that schemes must have at least 6,000 members to be registered, this threshold has never been enforced small stable schemes have been permitted to continue with their operations.  All but three of the 31 schemes with fewer than 6,000 members at the end of 2015 were restricted employer groups, which generally subsidised members on low incomes, enabling them to buy cover they could not afford on the open market.  The medical scheme industry had 8.87-million members at the end of 2016.

Read this report by Tamar Kahn in full at BusinessLive


DISCRIMINATION / RACISM / SEXISM

Lamberti apologises to Imperial staff, urges ‘sensitivity and humility’ in redressing the past

BusinessLive reports that Imperial Holdings CEO Mark Lamberti, who stepped down on Wednesday after being embroiled in a race and gender controversy with a female staff member, has urged business leaders to redress the past "with sensitivity and humility".  In a letter that went out on the same day, Lamberti also apologised to staff for the difficulties they had endured over the past few weeks.  He apologised separately to the former employee, Adila Chowan, who won a civil case of discrimination against him, when the High Court in Johannesburg found that he had "impaired her dignity".  Lamberti will step down on 30 April.  Chowan was fired in September 2015 after she laid a grievance against Lamberti, whom she said had referred to her as "an employment equity candidate" and had denied her the promotion opportunities that she had expected.  An internal inquiry dismissed her complaint.  She then sued Lamberti in a discrimination suit and won.  Lamberti earlier resigned from the board of Business Leadership SA (BLSA), following his resignation from the board of Eskom.

Read this report by Mark Allix in full at BusinessLive. Read Lamberti’s letter to the staff of Imperial at BusinessLive. See too, How race, gender blunder cut short Lamberti's 40-year corporate career, at Fin24


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Bathabile Dlamini’s former adviser heads to court over ‘irrational’ dismissal

BusinessLive reports that Sipho Shezi, who was an adviser to Bathabile Dlamini when she was Minister of Social Development, believes he was fired for insisting on transparency and honesty during the 2017 social grants fiasco.  Now Shezi has approached the High Court in Pretoria to sue the department for his dismissal.  The case is expected to be heard on Thursday.  Dlamini fired Shezi in April 2017.  He and other officials had sought a way of ensuring the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) could pay social grants without having to use Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).  In his affidavit submitted to court, Shezi, said the decision to terminate his contract was taken in bad faith and was irrational.  He was apparently informed of the termination through a letter left on his desk.  "The termination came as a complete surprise and was certainly premised no doubt on the stand which I had taken to ensure a full and honest compliance with the Constitutional Court requirements and (that) there was to be an extension of the CPS contract for no more than a one-year period," Shezi said.  He added:  "I no doubt was proving to be a thorn in her [Dlamini’s] side.  My insistence on open, honest and transparent governance in the best interests of the state was no doubt viewed as a hindrance."

Read this report by Genevieve Quintal in full at BusinessLive

 


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