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, 11 May 2018.


TOP STORY – NATIONAL BUS STRIKE

Numsa’s Irvin Jim advises that national bus strike not over yet

Fin24 reports that Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), said late on Friday afternoon that the national bus strike was not over yet.  He advised that the employers tabled an offer on Thursday, which was 9% for the first year and 8% for the second year of a two-year agreement.  The sticking point is apparently the issue of pay backdated to 1 April.  Jim indicated that the majority of workers wanted the backdated pay and that the unions were standing together with their workers.  "We are going to persuade the employers to come to the party.  In fact, this is selfish on the part of the employers.  We are saying the strike must come to an end this weekend," Jim said.  He went on to indicate:  "We will engage the employers over the weekend in an effort to end the strike which has already been dragging on for 17 days."  The drivers are also demanding better working conditions, including dual drivers on long-distance buses and the in-sourcing of technical jobs and other labour.  The strike by more than 17,000 drivers has left many commuters stranded across the country.

Read this report by Sibongile Khumalo in full at Fin24. Read too, Numsa: Bus strike negotiations have been difficult, at EWN

Numsa warns bus companies not to revert to previous wage offers

EWN reports that unions involved in the bus strike say it’s important that employers negotiate in good faith until a complete resolution to the drivers’ strike is found.  On Friday, unions announced that the strike would continue until a solution was reached regarding the back-pay of employees for the month of April when the strike began.  The wage increase on offer is apparently acceptable to the unions, namely a 9% pay rise for the first year and 8% for the second year of a two-year deal.  Other issues relating to the payment of night shift allowance, dual drivers and insourcing have been handed to a task team.  Speaking on Friday, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA’s (Numsa’s) Irvin Jim said that so far it has been difficult to negotiate with employers because they “don’t care because it is our black and African communities who have no reliable public transport to go and come from work.”  He warned that it would be to the detriment of their own companies should employers decide to revert to previous offers.  He added:  “If employers are going to show that attitude, it will also mean that we must plan for how we will be spiteful for them next year.”

Read this report by Katleho Sekhotho in full at EWN. Read too, Bus strike to drag on as latest talks fail, at BusinessLive

National bus strike takes hefty chunk from economy

City Press writes that more than three weeks after thousands of bus drivers downed tools, the economy continues to bleed millions of rands as a result.  Transport economist Ofentse Mokwena commented:  “A general estimate for the weekly costs of bus use from households earning R150,000 a year or less is to the tune of R589 million a week…  This probably varies across regions and may be much higher or lower depending on the household size and access to public transport in addition to their income.”  The estimates do not include the cost of delays, waiting, inconvenience, transfers and other unintended consequences of the strike that have been carried by the commuters.  In urban areas the costs could be higher, but in rural areas there would be more inconvenience.  The Cape Chamber of Commerce said the strike had no winners and was proving to be a disaster for all involved because of the “no work, no pay” rule.  This means strikers will lose the equivalent of a month’s wages and that will wipe out the effect of any increase they get for a full year.  Meanwhile, the taxi industry, the biggest financial beneficiary of the strike, has denied allegations that fares on some routes have been increased unjustly and more unregistered taxis have been added to cover the demand.

Read this report by Lesetja Malope in full at Fin24. Read too, Bus strike leaves commuters upset and hit in the pocket, at The Sunday Independent. And also, Bus strike is bad for business, say traders, at The Sunday Independent

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • MyCiTi service remains suspended until further notice due to bus strike, at IOL News


MINING LABOUR

Sibanye-Stillwater’s Masakhane mine to stay shut for another week

BL Premium reports that Sibanye-Stillwater’s Masakhane mine at its Driefontein operations in Carletonville will stay shut for another week.  This will be while the precious metals producer and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) investigate the seismic event on 3 May in which 13 mineworkers were trapped, seven of whom died.  Masakhane produces about 20% of Driefontein's production.  The investigation will assess the damage and if it is safe for workers to return to work.  Work will continue as usual at Sibanye's other Driefontein operations.  Sibanye has come under fire for its health and safety record in the last two weeks.  So far 14 of its workers have died this year.  The seismic event that led to the Masakhane accident registered 2.5 on the Richter scale.  Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted said that, while no particular scale triggered the automatic evacuation of people underground, the company was "more cautious" with big seismic events.

Read this report by Lutho Mtongana in full at BL Premium (paywall access)

One of the survivors of deadly Sibanye mine accident discharged from hospital

ANA reports that one of the six Sibanye-Stillwater employees who were hospitalised after the deadly seismic incident on 3 May at the Masakhane mine, Driefontein operations, has been discharged and is in good health.  The precious metals producers said on Friday:  “The other five rescued employees remain in a stable condition and are making good progress.  The Company will continue to ensure that these employees receive appropriate medical attention and ongoing support and counselling.”  Spokesman James Wellsted said that a memorial service had been held at Driefontein on Thursday, and that funeral and remembrance services were scheduled for the weekend, for the seven employees who had been killed.  He added that management would be conducting a thorough investigation across the entire Masakhane mine, in order to assess the impact on the operations, of the numerous seismic events that occurred during the week in which the accident happened.  “The underground inspection is expected to take approximately one week, and operations at the Masakhane mine will remain suspended during this period.  Production from the rest of the mines making up the Driefontein operations will continue as normal.”

Read this report in full at The Citizen

Silicosis class action deal brings sigh of relief

City Press reports that claimants in the silicosis and tuberculosis class action say they are relieved the matter is reaching closure after a historic settlement between their legal representatives and gold mines was reached the week before last.  This comes after the Legal Resources Centre, Abrahams Kiewitz Attorneys and Richard Spoor Attorneys, on behalf of thousands of mine workers, reached a settlement with the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group, which will see compensation paid to eligible mine workers who are suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis – including the relatives of those who have since died from the diseases.  The class action settlement is worth R5 billion and comes after three years of intense negotiations between the parties.  For the mine workers and their families, the settlement brings a sigh of relief.  This report goes on to relate the personal stories of three Eastern Cape families who will benefit from the settlement.  But, Nowinile Mankayi (98), the mother of a late mine worker, is worried that she would also die before her son’s compensation is paid.  “Those mines must pay up now.  What are they waiting for?  My son dedicated his life to working a thankless job, and he died poor and miserable.  At least his children will be taken care of. He cannot die in vain,” she said.

Read this report by Lubabalo Ngcukana in full at Fin24. Read too, Suffering litigants rejoice over mining houses’ R5-billion silicosis settlement, at Mail & Guardian. And also, Silicosis: Too late for some as gold mines pay up, at Mail & Guardian

Solidarity seeks wage hikes at least 10% in gold mining sector

Reuters reports that trade union Solidarity has submitted wage increase demands in the gold mining sector of at least 10% annually over the next three years according to a document submitted to the Chamber of Mines (CoM).  Solidarity only represents about 2% of the workforce in SA’s gold mines, but its members are skilled artisans and supervisors who are crucial to operations.  The document indicates that Solidarity is seeking wage increases of CPI inflation plus 4%, or 10%, “whichever is greater.”  CPI is currently running at 3.8%.  It also indicates that a three-year deal is only achievable if “the offer for the 3rd year is more favourable than year 1 and 2, and a guarantee of job security is built into the offer.”  The biggest union in the gold sector, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), has submitted wage hike demands of up to 37% over a two year period.  The CoM negotiates in the gold sector on behalf of Harmony Gold, Sibanye-Stillwater, AngloGold Ashanti, and a smaller producer, with formal talks expected to commence in June.

A short report by Ed Stoddard is at Moneyweb


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Public sector workers offered above-inflation salary increases

Bloomberg reports that a document it has seen indicates that the government has offered increases of 7% for the most-junior employees for the year up to end-March and 6% for senior staff, including managers.  These inflation-busting pay increases offered to unions representing 1-million state employees such as teachers and nurses come at a time when the country needs to rein in spending to help keep its investment-grade credit rating.  Consumer prices rose 3.8% in March.  The unions had demanded a 12% increase — more than double the Reserve Bank’s forecast of 4.9% for average inflation this year — and apparently lowered the request to 10% on 4 May.  "We have received an offer that is worth the consideration of our members," Sizwe Pamla, union federation Cosatu’s spokesperson commented.  "We will allow our workers to engage comprehensively and will implement whatever mandate they give us.  We can’t rule out or promise anything, it’s in the workers’ hands."  The Public Service Association (PSA), which has about 200,000 members and is not part of Cosatu, was not supporting the offer, deputy GM Tahir Maepa said, without giving details.

Read this report by Sam Mkokeli in full at BusinessLive

PSA rejects government’s wage offer, public sector bargaining council to meet again on Tuesday

Bloomberg reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) has officially rejected the offer presented by government during wage negotiations at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC).  Government’s offer, made on 4 May, was rejected by the majority of PSA members, the union said in an emailed statement Friday.  The offer was almost the same as the one made on 26 January, it indicated.  The PSCBC adjourned as unions affiliated to labour federation Cosatu requested more time to finalise the mandating process with members, the PSA said.  The parties have agreed to resume council on 15 May.  The PSA represents about 238,000 public service workers.  Negotiations should have been concluded by end-February for implementation by 1 April.

This short report by Jacqueline Mackenzie is at Moneyweb. See too, PSA rumbles towards public services sector strike, on page 5 of The Star of 11 May 2018


UNION NEWS / STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

Teacher union Natu claims gun attack on its deputy president was a hit

Timeslive reports that the National Teachers Union (Natu) believes the gun attack on Friday on its deputy president in Umhlanga‚ north of Durban‚ was an orchestrated hit.  Allen Thompson was shot at by a gang of armed assailants as he was entering the seaside town.  He was pursued after he left the northern KwaZulu-Natal town of Empangeni for Umhlanga.  According to police‚ Thompson was carrying an undisclosed sum of money, which he was going to use to purchase a car.  Thompson‚ who was hit in the shoulder‚ drove straight to the Netcare Umhlanga Hospital with the gunmen in pursuit.  Natu president Siphosethu Ngcobo said that balaclava-clad assailants followed Thompson into the hospital‚ but when they could not find him‚ rifled through his car - taking with them documents‚ a bag containing cash‚ two laptops and "critical information" related to an "imminent" forensic investigation.  "It is an open secret that we have been championing the call to place the KZN department of education under section 100, where the national department will take over the running of the provincial department," Ngcobo said.  Thompson is recuperating in hospital

This report by Suthentira Govender is at Timeslive. Read too, National Teachers Union deputy president, ambushed, shot in attack in Durban, at News24

Assassination attempt on teachers union deputy no coincidence, claims Saftu

ANA reports that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said on Saturday that the attempted assassination of Allen Thompson, deputy president of the National Teachers’ Union (Natu), was no coincidence.  KwaZulu-Natal-based Thompson, who is recovering in hospital, survived an attack by heavily armed men on Friday.  A police spokesperson confirmed the incident, saying Thompson had been pursued by assailants who were heavily armed with pistols and rifles.  Police are investigating a case of robbery and attempted murder.  Saftu said in a statement:  “Saftu agrees that it cannot possibly be a coincidence that this well-planned and ruthlessly executed assassination attempt on a trade union leader, in which the target was his laptops, was unconnected with his fight against corruption.  This attack follows other instances of attacks or robberies of trade union officials in which only laptops were stolen, and a series of politically-connected murders in KZN.  On the very same day that Thompson was ambushed, a prominent ANC activist and a municipal councillor from the Inkatha Freedom Party were gunned down in separate incidents.”  Natu president Siphosethu Ngcobo said that, while neither he nor Thompson had received death threats, they had received “warnings” from politicians in KwaZulu-Natal that “we must be careful because we are dealing with ‘sensitive’ matters when uncovering corruption within the education department.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. See too, Saftu outraged at alleged assassination attempt on Natu deputy president, at News24. Read Saftu’s press statement in this regard at Saftu News


PRODUCTIVITY / FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Ramaphosa to co-chair high-level global commission looking at impact on work of fourth industrial revolution

BusinessLive reports that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has appointed President Cyril Ramaphosa to co-chair its Global Commission on the Future of Work.  He will join Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who has chaired the committee since its inception.  The high-level commission was established in 2017 to undertake critical research into how countries could best respond to changes experienced in the world of work as a result of the fourth industrial revolution, as well as the changing nature of work.  Development economist and visiting UCT professor Carlos Lopes is part of the commission’s 28-member committee, which includes experts from across the globe.  Ramaphosa will attend his first meeting of the commission when its members meet next Tuesday in Geneva.  The work of the commission has been divided into four "centenary conversations", namely work and society; decent jobs for all; the organisation of work and production; and the governance of work.  Business Unity SA (Busa) has welcomed Ramaphosa’s appointment.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read The Presidency’s press statement at Presidency News. Read Busa’s press statement at Polity


LABOUR MARKET / JOBS

Listeriosis: No guarantee job losses can be avoided, says government

Fin24 reports that according to a response from the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, to a parliamentary question, government cannot guarantee that the listeriosis outbreak won’t lead to job losses.  Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Thembekile Majola asked about the economic impact of the outbreak.  Zokwana said his department had not taken direct steps to limit potential job losses as a result of the outbreak, but it was working with the Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry to address the outbreak.  “The outbreak and subsequent spreading of listeriosis contamination will likely not lead to short-term job losses.  However, if they end up having to close the factory altogether, that will have an impact on jobs,” said Zokwana.  He added that the economic impact of the disease had not yet been documented, but “the cost of eradicating the listeriosis would (likely) be substantial.”  This would be the case if the source of the outbreak was water, an abattoir or a food processing plant.  “If an abattoir has to be closed, it will impact employment,” Zokwana had previously advised.

Read this report by Lameez Omarjee in full at Fin24


REMUNERATION / FRINGE BENEFITS / PERKS

Salaries at up to 15 municipal councils at risk as VBS Bank liquidity crunch hits

City Press reports that fears are mounting that up to 15 municipalities nationwide could collapse because they are not likely to recover their R1.5bn investments at VBS Mutual Bank.  Their exposure to VBS was “too large compared to their operating revenue”, according to a Treasury document sent to the affected municipalities last week.  The SA Reserve Bank (SARB) placed VBS under administration in March, following a liquidity crisis.  VBS’s main source of cash was illegal short-term municipal deposits which it used to fund long-term loans to clients.  Senior Treasury officials fear that some of the municipalities – based in Limpopo, North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga – could collapse, forcing their provincial governments to place them under administration.  The Treasury report reveals that the 15 councils are unlikely to recover their R1.5bn total investment.  A Treasury executive said this money was part of municipalities’ annual operating budgets and unfortunately “they have lost all that money and it is only a matter of time before you hear that some of them are not able to pay salaries.”  An executive SA Local Government Association (Salga) member said it was “almost a foregone conclusion that some of these municipalities will crash”.

Read this report by Sipho Masondo in full at Fin24


RESTRUCTURING / BUSINESS RESCUE

Solidarity to continue with SAA business rescue plan despite latest bailout

Engineering News reports that trade union Solidarity announced on Friday that it would be continuing with its court application to place South African Airways (SAA) under business rescue, despite another government bailout for the airline.  This followed a statement on Thursday by SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana that the government had promised another R5-billion capital injection for the carrier.  SAA has not recorded a profit since 2011 and has so far received State guarantees totalling close to R20-billion.  Since 2012 it has racked up losses totalling R32-billion, Solidarity reported.  The union stated that this latest bailout confirmed that the airline was not a going concern and that the new injection was “merely sticking a plaster on a problem”.  “Carrying on with the current strategy is not right and it is not fair to the taxpayer,” affirmed Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) head Connie Mulder.  The union was due to meet with its legal team on Friday, to consider the latest news concerning the airline as well as to finalise its court papers.  The papers applying for the business rescue of SAA will be served before the end of this month.

Read this report in full at Engineering News. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News. Read too, DA demands to know if SAA received secret R5bn bailout, at Timeslive


CORRUPTION / CRIME

Former top cop Arno Lamoer gets effective six-year jail sentence for corruption

BusinessLive reports that disgraced former Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer was jailed for corruption on Thursday.  He was jailed for eight years‚ two of which were suspended‚ after admitting accepting "loans" from businessman Saleem Dawjee‚ who also paid for the former commissioner’s clothing and holidays.  Dawjee received the same sentence.  Handing down sentence in the High Court in Cape Town‚ Judge Rosheni Allie also jailed former police brigadiers Darius van der Ross and Colin Govender‚ who also admitted corruption in February.  Van der Ross was jailed for four years‚ with two years of the sentence suspended‚ and Govender for six years‚ also with two years suspended.  Van der Ross received "gratifications, which included having his private vehicle filled with petrol in exchange for favours".  Govender was accused of receiving "unauthorised gratifications amounting to R1.2m".  Lamoer was arrested in 2015 after a two-year investigation and admitted his guilt.

Read this report by Philani Nombembe in full at BusinessLive

Two EMPD officers arrested in sting operation for soliciting bribe

EWN reports that two metro police officers have been arrested in Katlehong after they were caught accepting a bribe through a sting operation conducted by the Hawks.  The two uniformed male officers, who were meant to be working from 06:00 to 14:00 on Friday, prolonged their shift and went outside of their jurisdiction in search of bribes.  Allegedly they stopped a truck driver and requested a bribe after claiming he did not have the correct documentation.  The driver subsequently alerted the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD) internal affairs unit.  The Hawks were informed of the incident and staged an entrapment where marked notes amounting to the requested bribe were given to the driver, who handed them over to the two suspects.  Immediately thereafter, the two metro police officers were handcuffed and detained at Katlehong north police station.  They are expected to appear in the Palm Ridge Magistrate Court on Monday morning.

Read this report by Ayanda Nyathi in full at EWN. See too, Ekurhuleni metro cops nabbed for bribery, at News24


WORKPLACE ABUSE / WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

‘If I die, know I asked for help’, female Ekurhuleni metro cop pleads after 'assault by supervisor'

Timeslive reports that the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) said on Thursday it had suspended a male employee who was alleged to have brutally assaulted a female officer who reported to him‚ leaving her locked in his office.  The incident is alleged to have happened at the weekend at the Thokoza Metro precinct.  The officer reportedly sent a voice note from her phone while she was still locked in the office‚ pleading for help.  “Guys I wish I can write but I cannot.  I am locked in the office by my supervisor who brutally assaulted me in the office.  This guy is swearing at me‚” the woman is heard saying in the minute-long clip.  With her voice breaking as she fights back the tears‚ she says she tried everything to report her attacker.  “If (tomorrow I can wake up dead)‚” she says‚ interchanging between isiZulu and English‚ “just know that I have been seeking for help since… I can’t get help.”  The woman has opened a case of assault against the officer.  An EMPD spokesperson said a thorough investigation would be conducted and also condemned any form of abuse against women and other vulnerable members of the society.

Read this report by Naledi Shange in full and listen to the audio clip at Timeslive

 


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