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, 20 April 2018.


TOP STORY – NATIONAL BUS STRIKE

Bus strike to intensify as unions reject employers’ revised offer on Friday

Timeslive reports that the unions involved in the national bus strike have decided to intensify their strike after they and bus companies failed to reach an agreement on Friday.  At a briefing, the five unions, including Satawu and Numsa, all indicated that the strike would continue.  This was said to be because “employers adopted a very provocative attitude which constitutes an insult to workers.”  Talks on Thursday and Friday were mediated by the CCMA.  Bus companies initially offered a 7% wage increase.  The CCMA mediator proposed an 8% increase in the first year and 8.5% in the second year of a two-year agreement.  Bus companies said they would accept the facilitator’s offer on condition that the unions drop other demands such as payment for nightshift and matters linked to the insourcing of cleaning‚ workshop and technical staff.  Unions dropped their wage demand to a 9.5% increase in the first year and 9% in the second year, following their initial demand for a 12% increase.  After the talks deadlocked, the unions called on all their members in the sector to intensify the strike until such time that employers had made an offer that could settle the matter.  They called on all communities to be patient and fully support the strike and “the struggle for workers for a living wage.”

Read this report in full at Timeslive. Read too, Bus strike continues as unions reject employers’ revised offer, The Citizen. And also, Talks over bus strike collapse again, unions call on members to intensify strike, at EWN

Nationwide bus strike continues on Monday

News24 reports that many commuters must once again look for alternative transport as the nationwide bus strike looks set to intensify as it enters its sixth day on Monday.  The continued strike action comes as a result of failed wage negotiations between unions and employers over the course of a two-day meeting with the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).  Workers initially demanded a 12% increase and employers offered 7%.  The workers have since rejected an offer of 8% for the first year, and 8.5% in the second year, instead proposing a 9.5% increase in the first year and 9% for the second.  "The bus strike is continuing, we are intensifying the action.  We are calling on non-unionised members to down tools in order to put more pressure on employers to give us what we want," the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) said.  A joint statement from all of the relevant trade unions said that the intensified strike action is in response to the employers "provocative attitudes" during negotiations.  The strike, which started last Wednesday, has left thousands of commuters stranded and a significant strain has been placed on other forms of public transport.  

Read this report by Christina Pitt in full at News24. See too, Bus strike: Commuters urged to find alternative transport on Monday, at EWN

Sanco calls on government to intervene in bus strike deadlock

News24 reports that the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) on Saturday said it supported the call for government intervention to resolve the nationwide bus strike.  Sanco spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu said:  "It is in the interest of employers, employees, our economy, [the] safety of those within our communities who are forced to leave their homes in the early hours of the morning when it is still dark including those who arrive late at night, that the deadlock is broken and an urgent settlement reached."  With the strike set to continue on Monday, Mahlangu said it was inevitable that the public transport strike would negatively impact the economy.  CCMA mediation on Thursday and Friday failed to resolve the deadlock.  Workers initially demanded a 12% increase and employers offered 7%.  Apparently workers had since rejected an offer of 8% for the first year, and 8.5% in the second year, instead proposing a 9.5% increase in the first year and 9% for the second.

Read this report by Jenna Etheridge in full at News24

Massive Metrorail delays hit Cape Town commuters on Friday, even as bus strike continues

News24 reports that commuters in Cape Town, already in the midst of a bus strike, had to contend with a near breakdown of train services on Friday morning after Metrorail announced massive delays across its network.  The company said there were delays of more than 60 minutes on all lines heading into Cape Town, due to a signal failure between the Cape Town, Mutual/Pinelands/Observatory and the Ysterplaat lines.  It advised commuters to make alternative travel arrangements, but commuters were contending with Day 3 of a national bus strike that has left thousands stranded and minibus taxis strained to cater for the increased travel load.  Mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron highlighted the difficulties commuters faced and said:  "We urge parties to the passenger bus bargaining process to work extra hard to find agreement.  In the long term we must get rail back on track.  It is by far the most efficient means of providing affordable access and mobility."  On Wednesday, Transport Minster Blade Nzimande lambasted the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) for its failure to commuters.

Read this report by Duncan Alfreds in full at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Brace for more bus strike chaos, on page 2 of The Sunday Independent of 22 April 2018


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Security guard killed‚ two injured in cash-in-transit robbery in Klerksdorp on Thursday

Timeslive reports that a security guard was killed and another guard and a bystander were injured during a cash-in-transit robbery in Klerksdorp on Thursday morning.  A truck from G4S Cash Solutions was ambushed after collecting money from Standard Bank.  The armed robbers‚ who wore overalls and were armed with AK47s‚ R5s and pistols‚ stole an undisclosed amount of cash.  Hawks spokesperson Captain Tlangelani Rikhotso said the robbers fired shots into the air and forced the two security guards to open the back of the truck before shooting them at close range.  One was fatally injured and the second was rushed to hospital.  The driver was unharmed.  A bystander was also shot and taken to hospital.  A bystander who witnessed the incident said about 50 shots were fired.

Read this report by Nico Gous in full and view video clips at Timeslive


MINING LABOUR

More payouts to ill miners after reforms by commissioner Barry Kistnasamy

BusinessLive reports that the Compensation Commission for Occupational Diseases (CCOD) has steadily increased the number of payouts to ill miners over the past three years.  This is a trend that suggests the reforms instituted by commissioner Barry Kistnasamy have turned the troubled fund around.  The CCOD provides compensation to miners who have contracted lung diseases at work, and was virtually dysfunctional when Kistnasamy was appointed in 2012.  He introduced a series of interventions, including the development of an electronic database to replace the chaotic paper records held by the CCOD, ensuring records could be obtained from the mineworker recruitment agency Teba at no cost.  He also worked with the mining industry to launch one-stop service centres to help former mine workers finalise their claims.  The Chamber of Mines has seconded medical doctors to the CCOD and provided staff and technical resources.  The CCOD had doubled the number of payouts in the 2017-18 financial year compared to the year before, Kistnasamy told Parliament on Thursday.  A total of 10,324 miners and former mine workers received a collective R254m in 2017-18, compared to R204m paid to 5,259 claimants the year before.  Claims for loss of earnings for miners with TB had been fast-tracked, and constituted a significant portion of the payouts in 2017-18.  

Read this report by Tamar Kahn in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Data shared to track down ex-miners owed billions in unclaimed benefits, at BusinessLive

Warnings about threat to FNB stadium from illegal mining have fallen on deaf ears, says Mashaba

BusinessLive reports that Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has reiterated calls for a crackdown on illegal mining, which he said posed a threat to the Nasrec precinct.  The FNB sports stadium could eventually collapse as a result of illegal mining in the area‚ Mashaba warned last week.  He said he had written to national authorities to alert them to the risks posed by explosives used in illegal mining, but the City had not received feedback from national government on a matter which could ultimately lead to the loss of hundreds of lives.  "Investigations have revealed that if illegal mining activity continues within these old mining shafts‚ the entire FNB Nasrec precinct‚ including the iconic FNB stadium‚ could go down in ruins as a result of unstable earth directly underneath the area," Masaba indicated.  He highlighted the following issues: an increased risk to the communities and services that are located near gas and fuel pipelines; the contamination of the city’s water supply; tremors‚ which threaten the structural integrity of roads‚ adjacent residential communities and businesses; and explosives have compromised the pillars that support decommissioned mines‚ placing additional risk on the physical structure upon which the pipelines rest.

Read this report in full at BusinessLive. See too, Illegal mining threatens Johannesburg infrastructure, warns Mashaba, at Mining Weekly

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Illegal mining sector is a deadly game, but it’s the only option for many sidelined skilled mineworkers, at City Press


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

North West health facilities close, families told to collect bedridden patients

Mail & Guardian reports that trade unions protests have brought the North West to its knees, closing health facilities and forcing hospitals to discharge even the sickest of bedridden patients.  Only Premier Supra Mahumapelo’s resignation will bring an end to the crisis, say union leaders.  “If the premier steps down, even now, then we can go back to the negotiation table and proceed, and advise our employees," said Motlalepule Ramafoko of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa).  More than a month ago, the nursing union and the National Education Health & Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) embarked on a go-slow that has crippled healthcare in the province.  They are also calling for an end to outsourcing and corruption.  The protest action has now turned into a stay away for many nurses after violent demonstrations erupted in Mahikeng this week.  Denosa fears for their safety.  Ramafoko stated:  “We never made any total shut down.  We were working with a skeleton staff until yesterday when the community decided to take over our strike.  Now the communities are the ones striking.”  Calls for Mahumapelo’s ousting follow revelations that the province awarded R180-million rand in illegal tenders the Gupta-linked company Mediosa for mobile clinics.  On Thursday morning, workers at the Mafikeng Provincial Hospital were phoning families to come collect patients from the hospital wards.  Also, Almost 400 clinics and hospitals are estimated to have no medicines or are running on dangerously low stock levels

Read this report by Nelisiwe Msomi and view a protest video at Bhekisisa Online. Read too, Why 95% of medicines are missing at North West clinics, at Bhekisisa Online

Military medical practitioners arrive in North West to assist with health care crisis

ANA reports that the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has deployed medical practitioners to assist in the North West province, which has been hard-hit by an ongoing labour strike.  "The South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) will move into the North West province to reinforce the medical care capacity at the provincial health hospital, following a debilitating labour action by workers within the health sector," the SANDF said in a statement.  It added that its healthcare practitioners would be moving into the province to ensure that affected patients at the provincial hospital were provided with the critical health care service they needed.  The strike by health professionals affiliated to the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has been ongoing for over a month.

Read this report and view a video clip at eNCA. Read too, SANDF to send members to help alleviate healthcare crisis in North West, at EWN. And also, North West health department welcomes SANDF aid, at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Police in North West remain on high alert should protests erupt, at EWN


UNION NEWS / STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

Tony Ehrenreich won't be standing for re-election as Cosatu Western Cape secretary

EWN reports that Cosatu’s Tony Ehrenreich said earlier this week that at the trade union federation's elective congress later this year he would not be available for re-election as Western Cape provincial secretary.  The Cosatu congress will be held in June when elections will take place as they do every three years.  Ehrenreich said he had been re-elected in the same position for the past 22 years and it was time for change.  “I’ve always believed that it's not good to have the same leader for so long and that we should have term limits of two terms.  But for all kinds of reasons, the unions insisted that I should stay in the post and now I’ve announced that I’m not going to be available for the elections in June for this position in Cosatu,” Ehrenreich indicated.

A short report by Lauren Isaacs is at EWN


APPOINTMENTS / RECRUITMENT / STAFFING / VACANCIES

JMPD warns public of fake ad about vacancies at academy

EWN reports that the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) has warned the public against a fake advertisement promising vacancies at the department’s academy.  Earlier this year a man and a woman were arrested for fraud.  The pair allegedly duped at least 52 people into paying over R10,000 for fake jobs.  The JMPD's Wayne Minaar said:  “The public should report such incidents to the police or JMPD if they do come across suspicious advertisements.”

This short report by Tendani Mulaudzi is at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE / LABOUR LAW AMENDMENTS

BCEA bill to retain sectoral wage determinations, secret strike ballot still on the cards

BusinessLive reports that the parliamentary portfolio committee on labour has decided in favour of amending the Basic Conditions of Employment (BCEA) Amendment Bill to retain sectoral wage determinations.  The bill was intended to repeal the provision for sectoral determinations in the light of the national minimum wage (NMW) coming into force, but business, trade unions and academics opposed that.  The committee has now completed its deliberations on the submissions made during public hearings on the NMW Wage Bill, the BCEA Amendment Bill and the Labour Relations (LRA) Amendment Bill, which will be suitably redrafted.  Few changes were made to the proposals in the LRA Amendment Bill, which introduces the requirement for a secret strike ballot and regulates rules on protests.  The committee has redrafted the definition of those who will qualify for the NMW to include independent contract workers, which will take account of the trend towards part-time employment, outsourcing and casualisation.  Cosatu’s Matthew Parks said most of the recommendations made by the labour federation had been accepted by the committee and it was happy with the outcomes, amongst which were the fast-tracking of the minimum wage for farm workers and domestic workers to 100% of the NMW within two years (unless there were compelling reasons against this) and an escalation of fines against repeat offenders who failed to pay the minimum wage.

Read this report by Linda Ensor in full at BusinessLive


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

KPMG staff face prospect of layoffs as state axes its audit contracts

Business Times reports that the word used by KPMG employees last week to describe the situation at the country's fourth- largest audit firm was ‘panic’.  The latest fears were stoked by the office of the auditor-general, which pulled the plug on KPMG's audit contracts last Monday.  Employees are now faced with the real prospect of retrenchment.  It is understood there has already been a steady exodus of staff since signs of trouble in the audit firm, linked to Gupta accounts, emerged last year.  Former KPMG employees said morale was at an all-time low and that it was "panic as usual".  Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu said the decision to terminate contracts was based on concerns over breaches of professional competence, independence and ethics.  One source said while nothing had been communicated about job security, staff who would ordinarily have been assigned to the auditor-general's audits this time of the year had now not been tasked with those jobs.  KPMG has lost about 10% of its clients after it was implicated in state capture last year.

Read this report by Ray Ndlovu in full at BL Premium (paywall access)


BASIC EDUCATION

Teachers angry over shortening of 2018 December break

Netwerk24 reports that on Saturday a number of teachers expressed their dissatisfaction on social media about the fact that their coming December break has been shortened.  According to a circular from the Department of Basic Education (DBE), this year the December break for teachers will only be 12 working days (not inclusive of public holidays).  Schools will close on 12 December for pupils and on 14 December for teachers.  Teachers must return on Monday, 7 January 2019 and pupils on Wednesday, 9 January 2019.  This will mean in effect that pupils will have 16 days of summer break (not including public holidays) and teachers only 12.  The reason is apparently that the Council for Education Ministers took a decision to close schools from 2019 onwards in the first week in December.  When this decision was taken, the 2018 school calendar had already been published.  A number of adverse comments from teachers were posted on social media, with one person calling the shortened period a “joke”. (Loosely translated from Afrikaans)

Read this report by Elise Tempelhoff in full in Afrikaans at Netwerk24


HIGHER EDUCATION / TRAINING / QUALIFICATIONS

Cuba-SA doctor training programme put on hold for three years

BusinessLive writes that a question mark hangs over the future of SA’s massive programme for training medical students in Cuba, which will see about 700 fifth-year students returning home in July to complete the last leg of their training.  All of SA’s medical schools are expected to take some of the Cuba trainees.  According to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, the programme was so large it was a headache for both countries and a decision was taken in the National Health Council to scale it back temporarily.  The programme would lapse for three years to relieve pressure on the system but would not stop entirely, he said.  "The Cuban government is not ... coping with these numbers, the provinces in their budgeting systems did not factor it very well, and it is too much for the South African universities to absorb.  It means increasing the final-year medical students by 60% at a go," Motsoaledi indicated.  The minister has promoted the programme as a way to overcome the failure of South African medical schools to produce enough doctors to meet the country’s needs.  Critics have questioned the wisdom of training doctors in a country with a different disease burden at greater cost than home-grown students.  The programme began in 1996.  

Read this report by Tamar Kahn in full at BusinessLive


CORPORATE MISCONDUCT

Solidarity levels new allegations against Denel’s top managers

Business Report writes that in a new wave of allegations against Denel, trade union Solidarity says the state-owned aerospace and defence technology group’s top management received up to 60% salary increases last year at a time when it struggled to pay staff salaries.  On Thursday, Solidarity released a document with details of alleged mismanagement at Denel.  Solidarity CE Dirk Hermann said it had taken the union more than a year to compile the document, which he indicated was inter alia based on interviews with several Denel employees “including people in senior management”.  In the report, Solidarity said Denel’s top management, including the chief executive, Zwelakhe Ntshepe, and the chief financial officer, Odwa Mhlwana, should be suspended pending a forensic investigation.  “We show that there is a prima facie case for a proper forensic investigation.  It is not our responsibility to do the investigation,” said Hermann.  He explained that the alleged financial mismanagement, circumvention of tender procedures and contempt for internal policy should be investigated, because the entity had been having financial difficulties and had had to be bailed out by the government.  Solidarity has further expressed concern that approximately 700 job opportunities may be jeopardised as a result of the financial problems at the company.

Read this report by Siseko Njobeni in full at Business Report. Read too, Só gaan dit as jy vir Denel werk, at Netwerk24 (limit on access)


CORRUPTION

Two warders accused in 'Sun City' jailbreak granted bail; three others suspended

News24 reports that two correctional officials who allegedly helped 16 inmates escape from "Sun City" prison were each granted R5,000 bail in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Friday.  The men, who were arrested on Thursday, will appear in court again on 3 May.  A Department of Correctional Services (DCS) spokesperson indicated that three other officials had been placed on suspension pending the outcome of an internal investigation and more officials might be suspended.  On 9 April, 16 awaiting-trial prisoners escaped through a pipe shaft at Medium A Johannesburg Correctional Centre and used an object to break the wall before getting past the fence.  A few days later, two of the men were shot dead in a Hawks operation after a shootout ensued when officers stopped their vehicle.  Ten escapees are still at large.  At the time of their original arrests, some of the prisoners were facing charges of murder.  Gauteng DCS commissioner Thakane Grace Molatedi said they would cooperate fully with the police to get to the bottom of the escape.

Read this report by Jenna Etheridge in full at News24. See too, More prison guards face arrest over brazen jailbreak, at Security.co.za (Saturday Star)

 


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