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
Tuesday, 15 May 2018.


TOP STORY – SAVE OUR STEEL

Solidarity unveils action plan on US steel, aluminium import tariffs

Engineering News reports that Solidarity on Monday announced an action plan in response to the decision by the US not to grant the SA steel and aluminium industries exemption from import tariffs.  According to the trade union’s Marius Croucamp, the 25% import tariff on steel and the 10% tariff on aluminium that came into effect on 23 March were a real cause for concern.  “The tariffs will result in many job losses in the local industry.  The industry has been under pressure for a number of years owing to international and local market conditions, as well as the dumping of steel,” he indicated.  Local manufacturers affected include ArcelorMittal SA, South32, Hulamin, Duferco, Cisco and Columbus Stainless.  The SA government has failed to convince the US authorities that the local industry should be exempted from the import tariffs.  Solidarity plans to continue engaging with the SA government and industry players in support of the local steel and aluminium industries to help ensure their sustainability, thereby offering protection to workers and protecting jobs.  Solidarity’s Save Our Steel campaign, which was launched in 2017, will serve as a vehicle for the ongoing engagement.  Elements of the union’s action plan include collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry in further efforts to convince US authorities to exempt the local industries from the tariffs, submission of a petition to the Trump administration, support for local companies with their exemption applications to US authorities and the drafting of a contingency plan to deal with the possibility of job losses

Read this report in full at Engineering News. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News


MINING LABOUR

Lonmin to shed thousands of jobs in current financial year

Business Report writes that platinum producer Lonmin, which is being bought by Sibanye-Stillwater, announced on Monday that it would cut thousands of jobs in the current financial year as part of its plans to release 12,600 workers in the next three years.  Lonmin CEO Ben Magara said at a results presentation that the group would retrench 3,700 workers in the current financial year.  “The section 189 process commenced, resulting in 1,993 employees and contractors being impacted during this year, of the 3,700 jobs we expect to be impacted in the current year, including through natural attrition, with a net reduction in headcount of 1,504,” Magara indicated.  The miner has been battling weak global platinum prices and soaring operating costs in SA.  “The challenging 'lower for much longer' platinum pricing environment is creating long-term damage to an already ailing industry, which has sacrificed at least 26,000 jobs in the last five years and continues to under-invest in its future,” Magara lamented.  Lonmin’s ability to remain a going concern over the next 12 to 18 months had “material uncertainties”, said CFO Barrie van der Merwe.  National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said the union was concerned about the impending retrenchments at Lonmin and added:  “They must start retrenching their executives, who earn millions.  We call on the Department of Mineral Resources to intervene and salvage jobs at Lonmin.”

Read this report by Kabelo Khumalo in full at Business Report. Read too, Consolidation needed to save jobs, says Lonmin, at Mining Weekly. And also, Reserve Bank approves Sibanye's buyout of Lonmin, at Mining Weekly

Mines Minister wants mining companies to pay attention to fall-of-ground accidents

ANA reports that Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday urged mining companies to give consistent priority attention to fall of ground and seismic-related accidents.  He added that his department would assist where it could.  Tabling the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR’s) R1.9bn Budget Vote in Parliament on Tuesday, Mantashe said the 2017 calendar year was the first time in 10 years where a regression in the number of fatalities was reported in the mining industry, with the gold sector being the leading contributor.  Since the beginning of 2018, a total of 33 fatalities have been reported.  “Together with the Mine Health and Safety Council, Council for Geoscience, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, organised labour, employers, as well as industry experts in rock engineering and seismology, the department is paying special attention into the issue of seismicity,” Mantashe indicated.  He added that the DMR would be hosting the Mine Health and Safety Summit in November to assess progress made in attaining the objective of “zero harm” and to chart a way forward.

Read this report in full at The Citizen


FARMING LABOUR

Case brought by Springs farm worker allegedly forced to drink faeces postponed

City Press reports that the case of a Springs farmworker who was allegedly forced to drink faeces by his employer has been postponed to 29 May.  Joseph Mona was in the Springs Magistrates’ Court on Monday seeking an unconditional public apology and monetary compensation for allegedly being forced to drink faeces by his boss, Harry Leicester.  He was represented by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which initiated Equality Court proceedings against the farmer and his family.  The incident in question occurred on 9 December when it is alleged that the Leicester family forced the worker to drink litres of faecal matter before allegedly attempting to drown the mechanic in a septic tank on their plot.  Harry Leicester, his wife Maria and their son Chris face charges of crimen injuria, kidnapping and aggravated assault.  On Monday, the SAHRC’s Buang Jones advised that the case was postponed following Mona’s cross-examination.

Read this report by Ndileka Lujabe in full at City Press

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Terry Bell’s Inside Labour: Farming highlights the system's insanity, at Fin24


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Government faces strike action as PSA starts balloting its members over wage increases

Fin24 reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) is to start balloting its members in favour of a strike as the union grows increasingly frustrated with protracted public sector wage negotiations.  The union’s Tahir Maepa said on Tuesday:  “This is a sad day, when government fails to comprehend the dire consequences of this non-resolution.”  While government has kept mum on its wage offer, it is reported to be a 7% increase at junior salary levels and 6% for senior staff.  It is estimated that consumer inflation will average 5.2% for 2018.  Unions are demanding between 10% and 12% wage hikes, the abolition of lower salary levels and the delinking of housing allowances when both spouses are employed in the public sector.  The parties were due to reconvene at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) on Tuesday afternoon.  The current wage deal lapsed on 31 March, and negotiations have been ongoing since October.  “The employer indicated that they [would] not improve the offer, with a hope that other unions will sign the deal on the table by tomorrow (Tuesday)," Maepa noted.  However, the largest public sector union, the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), maintains it is not ready to ink the offer.  Nehawu and the other Cosatu-affiliated unions in the talks have reportedly taken a decision to "further robustly engage the employer to consider our initial position".

Read this report by Tehillah Niselow in full at Fin24. Read too, PSA members ready to go on strike should government not improve wage offer, at The Citizen

Sactwu agrees 8% wage hike in the general goods and handbags leather sector

The Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) reported on Monday that it has settled its 2018 wage negotiations for the General Goods & Handbags (GGH) leather sector.  The settlement was negotiated under the auspices of the National Bargaining Council for the Leather Manufacturing Industry of SA.  An 8% wage increase was agreed on with the organisation representing employers in the sector, namely the Association of South African Manufacturers of Luggage, Handbags & General Goods.  The wage increase will come into effect nationally on 1 July 2018 and will be effective for a one year period thereafter, following which a new wage agreement will be negotiated.  This sector covers approximately 2,000 workers.

A short press release is at Sactwu News


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Striking bus drivers officially back behind the wheel by Wednesday

Timeslive reports that striking bus drivers are officially expected to return to work on Wednesday‚ although most might be back behind the wheel on Tuesday.  This comes after trade unions in the bus sector accepted a wage increase offer of 9% across-the-board‚ bringing to an end a prolonged national strike.  The offer is effective from the beginning of April this year‚ with backpay to be applicable from 1 April to 17 April, when the strike commenced.  The principle of ‘no work no pay’ will apply from 17 April until the date of signing of the agreement.  A second pay rise increment of 8% will be implemented from April 2019.  The strike was close to being ended on Friday‚ but unions and employers butted heads over the date the increases would be effective - with employers wanting it from the date the agreement was signed‚ and unions wanting it backdated to April.  Employers finally agreed to backdate the offer for implementation on 1 April 1 2018.  The issues of nightshift hours, dual drivers and insourcing have been referred to a task team overseen by the CCMA with clear terms of reference and time frames.  The five unions involved in the strike were the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union‚ the Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA‚ the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union‚ the National Union of Mineworkers of SA and the Tirisano Transport and Services Workers Union.

Read this report by Kgaugelo Masweneng in full at Timeslive. Read too, Bus companies slowly rolling out service after disruptive strike, at The Citizen. And also, National bus strike is over, says Numsa, at BusinessLive

Cost of bus strike 'will linger for years to come', says bargaining council after deal

Cape Times reports that according to the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (Sarpbac), the bus sector would count the cost of the month-long strike for years to come as employees returned to work on Tuesday.  The employers and the five unions representing thousands of employees reached an agreement on wage increases on Monday.  The council’s general secretary, Gary Wilson, said the public did not realise the losses workers had suffered, because when employees went on strike for one week, it took them years to recover due to unpaid debts.  He pointed out:  “Their bonds, schools fees and even at company level their medical aids and pension funds have fallen behind.  So before they get to the point of getting back on their feet and getting proper salaries, those things will first be deducted.”  Wilson said the council had made attempts at the weekend to make the parties reconsider the offers made on Friday.  In that regard a compromise position was put forward for the employers to consider “at least paying for the loss of wages in terms of increase for the period that the employees worked, as they did work from April 1 (the usual increase date) until April 17.”  The Commuter Bus Employers Organisation’s Meshack Ramela confirmed that bus companies then agreed to backdate and apply the 9% wage increase for 2018 on basic wages for the period of 1 to 17 April (the strike commenced on 18 April and so ‘no work no pay then applied).

Read this report by Okuhle Hlati in full at Cape Times. See too, Drawn-out bus strike a ‘lose-lose situation’, at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Some of the longest strikes in SA post democracy, at eNCA


LABOUR MARKET / EMPLOYMENT / JOB CREATION

Unemployment rate steady at 26.7% in first quarter of 2018

Reuters reports that SA’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 26.7% of the labour force in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the last quarter of 2017, SA Statistics said on Tuesday.  In its quarterly labour force survey that polls households, the government organisation indicated that there were 6.0 million people without jobs in the three months to the end of March, compared with 5.9 million people in the final three months of last year.  The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, rose to 36.7% in the first quarter from 36.3% in the previous quarter.

This short report by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo is at Moneyweb

SA needs skills-focused education to beat unemployment, says World Bank report

BusinessLive reports that the World Bank says SA needs a stronger education system to address the skills constraints hampering employment.  A country diagnostic report for SA released by the bank on Monday indicates that the legacy of Bantu education has created a skills shortage that has contributed to low growth, productivity and competitiveness, as well as persistently high unemployment.  The bank emphasised that the National Development Plan (NDP) could only be achieved by improving the quality of education.  The NDP’s goals are to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030, which calls for sustained growth of 5.4% and a 6% decrease in unemployment by 2030.  According to the report, the legacy of exclusion has aggravated policy uncertainty and reduced growth.  It has also kept prices high, especially for the poor, and does not create jobs quickly enough to reduce the high levels of unemployment.  The World Bank added that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan to create a social compact with business, labour and civil society was an "essential foundation" for overcoming exclusion.  As part of that plan, Ramaphosa is targeting $100m in new investments over the next five years in order to accelerate job creation.

Read this report by Sunita Menon in full at BusinessLive


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE / LABOUR LAW AMENDMENTS

Electioneering behind much of the opposition to minimum wage, claims Mildred Oliphant

BusinessLive reports that according to Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, some of the "propaganda" against the national minimum wage (NMW) was nothing more than electioneering and an attempt to score cheap political points.  Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday during her budget vote speech, she said it was disturbing that those who were against the NMW had nothing to offer as an alternative, but wanted to keep the status quo.  "Those who are demanding that the level be set higher, are totally oblivious of the consequences of doing so," the minister said.  She added that:  "Setting the inaugural level at R20 per hour was informed by research and robust analysis of various scenarios and their possible ramifications.  This level is informed by the real world considerations and not some idealistic desires."  Oliphant also pointed out that for the majority of the vulnerable workers, the NMW “will make a huge difference.”  She also dealt with proposed amendments to the Labour Relations Act relating to the extension of collective bargaining agreements where there was sufficient representation.  She noted that the original intention of the act was that the representativeness of bargaining councils and their constituent parties would be determined annually by the registrar, and not every time a bargaining council referred a collective agreement to the minister for extension.  The amendments to the act sought to give effect to that intention and nothing more, the minister stated.

Read this report by Linda Ensor in full at BusinessLive. Read too, The national minimum wage will make a ‘huge difference’, says labour minister, at The Citizen


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Row over procedure threatens disciplinary hearing of suspended SARS chief Tom Moyane

BusinessLIve reports that a dispute over procedure threatens to derail the disciplinary hearing of suspended SA Revenue Service (SARS) boss Tom Moyane.  The disciplinary process, which has yet to take place, is expected to be held in writing, with oral evidence to be heard only if the inquiry chairman deems it necessary.  Moyane’s attorney, Eric Mabuza, has since written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to raise concerns about the format of the inquiry, describing the rules as a "blatant absurdity" and a "legal oddity".  He has apparently given Ramaphosa until Tuesday afternoon to respond favourably to his demands, inclusive of his legal costs, failing which he will approach the courts.  On Monday, the Presidency said the disciplinary hearing remained the "proper platform" for the suspended commissioner to air matters entailed in the process.  Moyane faces charges of misconduct in violation of his duties and responsibilities linked to his handling of allegations against second-in-command Jonas Makwakwa, making unauthorised bonus payments, misleading Parliament and instructing a SARS official not to co-operate with an inquiry by audit firm KPMG.  To add to Moyane’s woes, the NPA may have him in its sights for criminal prosecution.

Read this report by Natasha Marrian in full at BusinessLive


SEXUAL HARASSMENT / ABUSE

Equal Education boss resigns after sex pest accusations by staff

Timeslive reports that, while protesting his innocence‚ Equal Education general secretary Tshepo Motsepe has resigned after being accused of sexual harassment.  An independent panel will now investigate the assertions made against him by some women staff at the civil society organisation.  The women who came forward are EE staff and they will be offered counselling in the interim.  The allegations against Motsepe were disclosed to members of EE’s senior management team on 18 April.  A preliminary investigation was conducted‚ and a formal complaint was then submitted to EE’s National Council on 24 April, when it was resolved that an assessment panel would be appointed.  "On Wednesday 25 April‚ he tendered his resignation.  He has not accepted wrongdoing at this stage‚ and the National Council has resolved to continue with the appointment of an independent panel to investigate the allegations‚" EE said in a statement.  Leanne Jansen-Thomas has been appointed as interim national coordinator.  A separate‚ broader assessment process will also be set up to examine EE’s record of dealing with mistreatment in the workplace‚ EE’s policies and procedures in regard to sexual harassment‚ and the organisational norms and culture which currently exist at EE.

Read this report in full at Timeslive

 


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