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, 4 May 2018.


MINING LABOUR

Death toll at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Masakhane mine climbs to seven as rescue operations wrap up

News24 reports that the death toll of miners killed at Sibanye-Stillwater's Masakhane mine, after employees got trapped underground on Friday due to seismic activity, has risen to seven.  Sibanye-Stillwater spokesperson James Wellsted said all thirteen employees who were trapped underground at the Masakhane mine, Driefontein Operations, had been recovered by mine rescue personnel.  "Regrettably, the last three employees who were recovered passed away from their injuries, bringing the total number of fatalities as a result of the seismic event to seven," he indicated.  Wellsted said the six employees who had been successfully rescued had all been admitted to hospital and were in a stable condition.  "A thorough investigation by management and the Department of Mineral Resources, and other stakeholders will be performed and all efforts will be made to prevent incidents of this nature [from] occurring in future," said Wellsted.

Read this report by Derrick Spies in full at News24. Read Sibanye-Stillwaters’ final press statement at Politicsweb (scroll down). See too, Ramaphosa mourns deaths of seven Sibanye-Stillwater miners, at News24

Solidarity has major concerns about mine safety in wake of Sibanye-Stillwater deaths

News24 reports that trade union Solidarity expressed "grave concern" on Saturday over safety in South African mines following the recent deaths at Sibanye-Stillwater's Masakhane shaft in Driefontein.  Seven of the 13 miners who were trapped underground on 3 May after seismic activity have been confirmed dead, while six miners were located and brought to safety.  Advocate Paul Mardon, Solidarity’s deputy general secretary for occupational health and safety, said there was particular concern about seismic activities in deep-level mines that caused falls of ground leading to mining fatalities and injuries.  Mardon said that although the Masakhane incident still had to be investigated in full, indications were that it could have been preceded by seismic activity and that it was followed by further seismic activity.  He added the trade union remained concerned about the increase in fatalities in mines since 2017.  Provisional data indicated that 86 miners died in SA mines in 2017, compared to the 73 mining fatalities in 2016; the 77 in 2015; and the 84 in 2014.  Preliminary figures for 2018 also look bleak with 33 fatalities recorded to date.  The union also expressed its concern about the lack of high-level talks between the various stakeholders in the mining industry to promote health and safety.

Read this report by Mxolisi Mngadi in full at News24. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News. See too, Parliament sends condolences to families of Sibanye mineworkers, at News24

Amcu says mine safety has now become a human rights issue

News24 reports that according to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), mine safety has become a human rights issue and legislation should be strengthened to hold mining bosses criminally accountable for failures to ensure safety at operations.  This call came after seven workers lost their lives after being trapped underground Sibanye-Stillwater’s Masakhane shaft on Thursday following two seismic events.  Six other mine workers were hospitalised.  According to Amcu, four were in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and two others were critical.  Amcu demanded that the Masakhane shaft remained closed until all investigations were finalised.  In a statement on Saturday, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the mining companies should also face civil claims when accidents such as the Sibanye-Stillwater incident happened.  "The Union undertakes to heighten its campaign in ensuring that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) ups its game in regulating mining in South Africa.  The Union will be meeting with Minister Gwede Mantashe to discuss the failures of DMR in this and other regards," Mathunjwa indicated.

Read this report by Derrick Spies in full at News24. Read too, Amcu president calls for new regulations after deaths of Driefontein miners, at EWN. And also, Sibanye-Stillwater must prioritise safety, says mines minister Gwede Mantashe, at News24. As well as, ANC calls for total overhaul of safety measures at mines after Sibanye-Stillwater deaths, at News24

Chamber of Mines defends safety record as Sibanye-Stillwater fatalities total seven

Miningmx reports that the Chamber of Mines of SA (COM) has expressed regret about the number of seismicity-related incidents this year on SA’s gold mines, the latest of which at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Driefontein mine claimed seven lives.  But it defended the industry’s record, saying hundreds of millions of rands had been invested by the sector in understanding the phenomenon.  It said the number of fatalities associated with seismicity fell from 48 in 2003 to 14 in 2019 as a result of research into rockbursts leading to the falls of ground that typically resulted in employee underground deaths on the mines.  “This focus is reflected in the more than R150m that the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) has invested in falls of ground research.  Furthermore, through the MHSC, more than R250m has been spent on research into the seismicity associated with our deep-level mines,” the COM said in a statement.  It added that a further R40m had been spent on “… fundamental and applied research and technology transfer”.  The research outcomes has led to new mine designs and methods.  The Chamber added, however, that it was concerned regarding the increase in the number of rockbursts related to seismic activity.  In an effort to understand the concerns, the Mining Industry Occupational Safety and Health Fall of Ground task team had been established.

Read this report by David McKay in full at Miningmx. Read too, NUM angry after workers killed at Sibanye-Stillwater mine, at The Citizen

Ill coal miners next to seek occupational lung disease compensation claims

Mining Weekly reports that the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) Justice and Peace Commission and Richard Spoor Attorneys say coal miners are the next in line to seek compensation for occupational lung diseases.  "The battle to secure justice for sick miners in South Africa is not over.  We are working with Richard Spoor Attorneys to demand compensation from coal mines on behalf of former mineworkers who contracted deadly lung diseases in the coal mines,” SACBC Justice and Peace Commission chairperson Bishop Gabuza said in a statement on Friday.  This followed Richard Spoor on Thursday revealing that such legal action was being pursued on a company-by-company basis, including against Sasol and Exxaro Resources.  Gabuza appealed to coal mining companies “to emulate the example of gold mining companies” by considering “out-of-court settlements and compensation levels that are sufficient to restore dignity to former workers.”  On Thursday, six gold mining companies signed a class action settlement that would go towards establishing a R5.2bn trust fund to compensate gold miners afflicted with silicosis and tuberculosis.  The settlement was a result of years of extensive negotiations.  The SACBC intends to set up a mechanism in remote rural areas in the Free State and Eastern Cape to ensure thousands of sick miners have access to and benefit from the trust fund within its 12-year lifespan.

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly. Read the SACBC’s press statement at SA Labour News

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

Postings on Mining Charter

  • Ramaphosa vows Mining Charter finalised 'soon', at Fin24
  • State's consultation with mining communities pays big dividends, at BusinessLive


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Man killed after tipper truck rolled over in Knysna

Knysna Plett Herald reports a man was killed just outside Simola, in Knysna, on Thursday and another person injured when a tipper truck belonging to CX Tippers & Diggers rolled down an embankment.  According to ER24 spokesperson Inneke van Huyssteen, when paramedics arrived on the scene just before 3.30pm, they found the truck lying on its roof.  “Upon further assessment, they found a male driver with fatal injuries inside the truck and he was declared dead at the scene by the provincial EMS.  Another man was found on the scene with minor injuries,” she indicated.  The injured man was taken to hospital for further medical care.  The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are not yet known.

Read this report by Stefan Goosen in full at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Two guards shot and wounded on Saturday in cash-in-transit robbery in Cosmo City, at News24
  • Taxify driver murdered in Soweto, at SABC News


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Unions in bus sector threaten nationwide mass action against companies

ANA reports that unions in the bus sector said on Friday they would soon embark on mass action across the country, accusing employers of refusing to engage meaningfully in wage talks to end a strike now in its third week.  Workers affiliated to Satawu, Numsa, the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union, the Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA and the Tirisano Transport and Services Workers Union commenced industrial action last month over wage increases.  In a statement, Numsa indicated that the unions would meet on Friday to finalise details of mass action and protests in various parts of the country.  It added that unions had rejected the current offer on the table of an 8% wage increase for the first year and 8.5% for the second year of a two-year deal.  Among other grievances, unions were angry that alternate drivers on long bus trips were only paid for the time they were actually behind the wheel, and they have accused bus companies of subverting the law by refusing to pay night shift allowances.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read the joint statement by the five unions at Polity

New offer put on bargaining table in attempt to end national bus drivers’ strike

EWN reports that the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) has confirmed that a new wage offer has been put on the bargaining table in an attempt to end the national strike in the road passenger sector.  The SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) and the Council for Conciliation, mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) have proposed an offer of 8.75% for the first year and 8.25% for the second year of a two-year deal.  Workers have been on strike for nearly a month, demanding a 9% wage hike.  Satawu's Zanele Sabela said unions were currently consulting their members about the new offer and would let the public know in due course.”

Read this report by Thando Kubheka in full at EWN. See too, New offer on table for striking bus drivers, at eNCA

Sanco hopes new wage offer will end protracted national bus drivers’ strike

ANA reports that the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) on Sunday expressed the hope that a new wage offer made in the road passenger bargaining council would break the stalemate and end the countrywide bus strike.  The organisation urged parties to finalise consultations speedily to end the protracted industrial action.  The SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) have proposed a settlement of 8.75% for the first year and 8.25% for the second year of a two-year deal.  Workers had been on strike for nearly a month, demanding a 9% wage hike.  Sanco spokesman Jabu Mahlangu said commuters could not afford any further postponement of the resolution of the strike.  “It will take months before some of them recover from the effect of the strike which has eroded their meagre resources and left them high and dry,” he indicated.

Read this report in full at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Bus driver explains why he’s on strike, at GroundUp


PROTESTS / MARCHES / CAMPAIGNS

North West protesters say they will burn doctors at provincial hospitals who treat patients

BusinessLive reports that on Friday protesters again blocked access to provincial hospitals in the North West, threatening to burn doctors who tried to access their workplaces to treat patients.  In the morning, protesters blocked access to Potchefstroom Hospital.  One doctor took a video of burning tyres outside the hospital, while another doctor sent pictures of strikers who were removing doctors from wards at Klerksdorp Hospital, which is a referral hospital that is now short-staffed.  This came as the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said its involvement in the crisis had rendered the situation back to normal.  Union Nehawu has been on a go-slow in the province since February‚ disrupting medicine supply at the main medicine warehouse, and is now keeping nurses from work.  The union says it was tired of corruption in the health sector and a shortage of medical staff in hospitals.  The union also wants North West premier Supra Mahumapelo to resign.  On Friday‚ a national task team of government members visited the embattled province.  Doctors from the Rural Health Advocacy Project have asked the task team to deal with the fact that hospital security was not able to stop mobs of people storming hospitals.  Civil rights group Section 27 on Friday condemned the violence at hospitals.

Read this report by Katharine Child in full at BusinessLive. Read too, SANDF restores some normalcy to North West hospitals, at News24. And also, Chaos in North West escalates as Supra hangs on, The Citizen


UNION NEWS / STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

Saftu keen to poach Cosatu’s Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich

Mail & Guardian reports that Tony Ehrenreich, Western Cape secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), has informally met senior leaders of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and could soon join Saftu.  Ehrenreich joined Cosatu in 1989 and is its most senior leader in the province.  Last week he announced his intention to resign from his position after Cosatu’s provincial conference next month.  This came just one week after he appeared alongside Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi at a march against proposed labour law amendments.  A senior Saftu leader commented:  “He is very key in the coloured community there and, if you want to infiltrate the Western Cape labour movement, you need him.  We have made some efforts and the reception has been encouraging.”  Ehrenreich denied that he had been officially approached by any other federation and would not elaborate on the overtures from Saftu.  Saftu’s leadership believes Ehrenreich could serve as an elected official if he decided to join an affiliated union, or could be employed directly by the federation.  Officially, Ehrenreich has written to Cosatu saying he will not stand for re-election because he wants to take a sabbatical.  Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali expressed doubts that Ehrenreich would be suited to Saftu or that he would leave Cosatu.

Read this report by Govan Whittles in full at Mail & Guardian


PRICES / TARIFFS

SA on track for moderate food-price inflation, analysts reckon

BusinessLive reports that, as winter cereal planting gets under way, early indications are that SA is on track for moderate food-price inflation and strong agricultural exports.  The relief provided to consumers recently through falling food prices has been put at risk by the drought in the Western Cape, a weakening rand, rising fuel costs and the prospect of a global trade war.  But analysts said consumers and farmers had reasons to be optimistic.  In March, SA recorded the lowest inflation rate since February 2011 at 3.8%, mostly due to lower prices of food, though this is expected to be at the bottom of the current cycle.  May is the start of the winter planting season, with indications that Western Cape farmers were betting on the forecasts of improved rainfall, said Wandile Sihlobo of the Agricultural Business Chamber.  Early indications were that wheat planting would increase 2% in 2018, driven largely by increased planting in other provinces.  Maize planting was expected to rise 5%, and canola 7%, said Sihlobo.

Read this report by Karl Gernetzky in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Drought hits Eastern Cape citrus farmers hardest, at City Press


LABOUR MARKET / JOBS

Durban ICC created 11000 direct and indirect jobs in 2017

Business Report writes that in the past financial year, the Durban International Conference Centre has contributed to the employment of more than 11,000 workers directly and indirectly.  The conference centre, which is also known as the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, produced revenues of R173m during the year, which was R11m more than the revenue for the previous year.  According to the marketing director Scott Langley, the increased revenue could be attributed to the big events that were hosted by the Durban ICC over this past year.  He indicated that there had been a 38% year-on-year growth in the number of events hosted for the year.  An independent economic impact study has been authorised each year since 2007 to measure the impact that the Durban ICC has had on both the local and national economies.  This past year, Grant Thornton SA conducted the study and the cumulative impact that the Durban ICC contributed to the KwaZulu-Natal economy was determined at R4,8 billion.  Direct and indirect jobs created were determined at 11,024 for 2017 and cumulatively 93,122 jobs for the period 2007 to 2017.

Read this report by Dhivana Rajgopaul in full at Business Report


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

Fedusa calls on Steinhoff CEO to quit over loan

Bloomberg reports that the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) wants Steinhoff International Holdings NV acting CEO Danie van der Merwe to resign after it emerged he borrowed R26.4m backed by company shares a week before the stock collapsed due to accounting irregularities.  “The timing of the loan application is highly suspicious and smacks of insider trading.  There is absolutely no way that Steinhoff top executives, including Van der Merwe, could not have full knowledge of what was going on, on the eve of the share collapse,” Fedusa said in a statement on Friday.  Steinhoff said earlier that the 29 November loan taken out by Van der Merwe’s personal investment company from Investec Plc had been repaid.  It was standard practice for lenders to accept personal assets as security for loans and the transactions have no implications for the company, a Steinhoff spokeswoman said.  The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) was heavily invested in Steinhoff through the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).

This short report by John Bowker is at Moneyweb. Read Fedusa’s press statement in this regard at SA Labour News. See too, Steinhoff to meet lenders on debt restructuring, at BusinessLive


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Suspended SARS commissioner Tom Moyane faces disciplinary charges

ANA reports that suspended SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane will be facing disciplinary charges, President Cyril Ramaphosa's office said on Friday.  The charges were served on Moyane on Thursday and related to alleged misconduct in violation of his duties and responsibilities in terms of the SA Revenue Service Act, the Public Finance Management Act and the SARS Code of Conduct, the presidency indicated.  It added that the disciplinary inquiry related to alleged leadership and organisational failures.  Retired Constitutional Court Judge Kate O’Regan will be the presiding officer for the disciplinary inquiry.  The presidency also said that a commission of inquiry would be established to probe tax administrative issues like VAT refunds and shortfalls in revenue in the past two financial years.  Moyane was suspended in May after he refused to heed the president's request to resign.  Ramaphosa’s office said at the time that disciplinary charges would follow.  

A short report is at Engineering News. Read too, Charge sheet claims Tom Moyane tried to thwart investigation, at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Corruption accused Beauty Phahlane still at her SAPS post, at News24

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page