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, 18 May 2018.


TOP STORY – PUBLIC SECTOR WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Government and unions, but not PSA, agree to 6%-7% public sector pay hikes

Fin24 reports that an agreement was finally reached on Friday evening in the protracted public sector wage negotiations.  But at least one union, the Public Servants Association (PSA), will not be signing it.  For 2018/2019, backdated to 1 April, junior employees will get 7% increases, while mid-level employees will receive 6.5% and senior staff 6%.  The agreement for the first year for the entire civil service is above inflation increases, which are projected to be 5.2% in 2018.  The parties have agreed that wages would increase by consumer price index (CPI) plus 1% to CPI for the successive two years of the three-year agreement.  The issue of equalisation of pay progression was also ironed out.  The PSA, which represents 238 000 members, is still sticking to its demand for 10% raises across the board and balloted its members this week over a strike.  The PSA’s Tahir Maepa admitted that because the majority of unions have accepted the offer, it would apply to all government employees, but said they would "never" sign the deal in its current format.  Parties are set to reconvene on Monday at 11:00 for the signing of the agreement.  The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) is the only one of the seven Cosatu-affiliated which has indicated it might not sign the agreement.  The Independent Labour Caucus, except for the PSA, is ready to accept the deal.

Read this report by Tehillah Niselow in full at Fin24. Read too, Government and some public sector unions agree 6%-7% pay increase, at BusinessLive

Fedusa warns government against ‘steamrolling’ public sector wage agreement though bargaining council

ANA reports that the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) has warned government not to unilaterally implement the public sector wage agreement, but to rather seek to find an inclusive approach to conclude the wage negotiations.  Fedusa noted that government had tabled its final offer in the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) for 2018 (backdated to 1 April), for 2019, and for 2020.  For 2018, it was offering a 7% for salary levels one to seven; 6.5% for levels eight to 10; and 6% for salary levels 11 to 12.  For both 2019 and 2020, it was offering projected inflation (CPI) plus 1% for levels one to seven; CPI plus 0.5% for levels eight to 10; and projected CPI for salary levels 11 to 12.  Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said on Sunday:  “It is [important] to note that the three-year agreement would bind public servants for the period and for this reason it is important for workers in the public sector to carefully consider the final offer of the employer.”  He said it would be unreasonable for government to “steamroll” the agreement through the PSCBC.  “Fedusa warns government not to unilaterally implement the wage agreement but rather seek to find an inclusive approach to conclude the wage negotiations,” George said.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read Fedusa’s press statement at SA Labour News


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Satawu deeply worried about attacks on cash-in-transit guards

SABC News reports that the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) is deeply concerned about the safety of cash-in-transit security guards.  The union is in talks with cash-in-transit companies to discuss providing security for its members.  Seven men were arrested on Thursday after two cash-in-transit vans were bombed in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg.  The union’s Praisewell Nsimande said that once employees were out of the vehicle, in particular the box marshal going into the ATM and the marshal going to the bank itself, the capacity in terms of the back-up was not up to good standard.  Security analyst Dr Chris de Kock has blamed the escalation of cash-in-transit heists in the country on a lack of police intelligence, saying:  “The police do not have intelligence.  Cash-in-transit robbers now find it much easier to do this type of robbery also the way that they are doing it is actually impossible for an ordinary police station to handle this kind of situation.”

A short report is at SABC News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • National police commissioner condemns 'senseless killing' of Meadowlands station commander outside his home, at News24
  • Slain Meadowlands station commander had planned to retire, at Security.co.za


MINING LABOUR

Future of SA gold mining at stake in upcoming wage negotiations

Business Times writes that the future of SA’s gold mining industry hangs in the balance as it prepares for a new round of wage negotiations, with demands for steep pay hikes likely to fast track its inevitable demise.  Labour accounts for 53% of total industry costs and current talks with unions will therefore be crucial.  With the current gold price, mines could close down one by one.  “The higher those labour costs, the more it moves [forward] that date of those mine closures,” said Ian Cruickshanks of the Institute of Race Relations.  The gold industry has cut about 54,269 jobs in the past decade.  Although the gold price has increased by 20% in the past two years, the rand has strengthened by 20% in the same period, which means mining companies are not getting the advantage of the price rise.  Gold companies negotiating in this round of wage talks are AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye-Stillwater, Harmony Gold and Village Main Reef.  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has reportedly demanded a 37% wage increase for the lowest paid mineworkers.  The Chamber of Mines confirmed it had received demands from the NUM, the United Association of SA (Uasa) and Solidarity.  The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which represents 34% of workers in the industry, said it would table its demands this week.  Uasa is seeking a 10.5% increase, while Solidarity is asking for 10%.  The Chamber did not say when the talks would start, but indicated that the wage settlement would be effective from 1 July.

Read more of this article by Lutho Mtongana at SA Labour News

Liquidation of Vantage Goldfields, which owns Lily and Barbrook mines, postponed for two months

City Press reports that the liquidation of Vantage Goldfields SA has been postponed for another two months to give the new company owners a chance to convince creditors that they are ready to reopen two Mpumalanga mines.  Lily and Barbrook mines near Barberton were mothballed in 2016 and placed under business rescue after the entrance to the shaft of Lily Mine collapsed and buried three workers.  Barbrook, a smaller operation that relied on Lily Mine, was forced to shut down after experiencing financial distress when Lily Mine stopped operating following the disaster.  Creditors who are owed R139m approached the Pretoria High Court to liquidate the mines when it appeared that the business rescue practitioner was struggling to get a R300 million investment to reopen the mines.  The money was needed to open a new shaft at Lily Mine and also retrieve the bodies of Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Nkambule and Solomon Nyerende.  Siyakhula Sonke Corporation (SSC) Flaming Silver SPV signed a R190m loan agreement with the Industrial Development Corporation last month to acquire a 74% stake in Vantage.  Despite this step, the creditors have remained unconvinced that the mines could be reopened and they have not withdrawn their application for liquidation.  The court postponed the matter to 31 July at the request of Vantage

Read this report by Sizwe Sama Yende in full at Fin24

Case against five of eight informal gold miners arrested in Benoni dropped

GroundUp reports that the charges against five of the eight informal gold miners arrested in early March at a mine in Benoni were dropped on Thursday due to insufficient evidence.  They were initially charged with illegal possession of gold, but the prosecution withdrew the case.  The case against the remaining three was postponed.  When the eight informal miners were arrested on 3 March, a fellow informal miner was shot dead by security.  New charges were brought against four of the accused for living in SA in contravention of immigration law.  All four pleaded guilty and were fined R800.  Their family members and friends paid the fines.

A short report by Kimberly Mutandiro is at GroundUp


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Workers at Midrand horse stables embark on strike over poor working conditions

EWN reports that workers at several horse stables in Randjespark, Midrand, north of Johannesburg, have downed tools over alleged poor working conditions.  A memorandum of grievances, drawn up by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), demands better pay, employment contracts and protective gear against the horses.  The workers have also demanded minimum wages, fair employment practices and decent working hours.  EFF counsellor Ephraem Mothemi said the conditions were unacceptable and added:  “These people have worked here for a long time and they don’t even have a single benefit.  If they get injured, they just take them to a hospital a leave them like that.  Sometimes they don’t take to a hospital.  When you die here they give your R500.”  Mothemi called on the horse racing body, Phumelela, to intervene.  Meanwhile, the stable owner said stables were owned individually with each owner having different working conditions.

Read this report by Ahmed Kajee in full at EWN

Eskom evacuates Kusile power station after sub-contractor labour dispute turns violent

BusinessLive reports that most of the staff at Eskom’s coal-fired Kusile power station in Mpumalanga were evacuated on Friday after a labour dispute turned violent.  Staff, other than those keeping the power station running, were instructed to leave the plant when workers employed by a company sub-contracted by Mitsubishi and Hitachi allegedly set vehicles on fire.  Photographs of burning vehicles at the power station were posted on social media.  Police were called in to restore order.  Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said:  “The workers were demanding bonuses from the employer but because this was causing a threat to other people, we decided to evacuate everyone so that we can ensure we don’t have injuries at the power station.”  He went on to indicate:  “The expectation from Eskom is that the employer is going to resolve this issue with their employees so that on Monday we resume work without interruptions like we saw today."

A short report by Petru Saal is at BusinessLive. See too, Power station evacuated in Mpumalanga due to violent protests, at EWN


BARGAINING COUNCILS

Bid to include 20% of bus drivers not covered by bargaining council in strike settlement

BLPremium reports that the relief that accompanied the end of the 26-day bus strike will be short-lived for some workers who might end up not receiving the wage increases they fought for.  The SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) will be fighting another battle to ensure all workers benefit from the new wage agreement.  The council would be writing to the labour minister to request that the wage agreement be extended to cover all companies, as only 80% of the industry belonged to the council, general secretary Gary Wilson said.  Until the extension has been approved, workers of the 20% of employers who do not fall under the council will reap no benefits from the agreement.  Companies can also apply to be exempted from the deal if they can prove they are unable to foot the bill for the new wages.  Organised labour and employers reached a settlement agreement this week, guaranteeing covered employees a 9% wage increase for 2018 and 8% for 2019.  All other demands relating to condition of service issues were referred to a task team headed by the CCMA.  While the unions’ resilience won workers a settlement that includes the backdating of salaries to 1 April, workers lost out on 15 days’ wages as the no-work, no-pay rule applied during the strike.  Negotiations between unions and employers began in February and collapsed two months later.  Wilson commented that trust, the glue that holds the relations between employers and employees together, had always been a challenge for the parties.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BLPremium (paywall access)


APPOINTMENTS / RECRUITMENT / STAFFING / VACANCIES

Amid qualifications controversy, Msimanga’s chief of staff resigns after being asked to do so

Timeslive reports that after being put on special leave amid reports that she was inappropriately appointed‚ the City of Tshwane’s chief of staff Marietha Aucamp resigned on Thursday.  Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga said:  “I note that Ms Marietha Aucamp has formally tendered her resignation from her position as the chief of staff in the office of the executive mayor of Tshwane after having been asked to do so.  I wish to state that I accept her resignation and will inform the office of the city manager‚ to whom the chief of staff reports‚ so as to observe all due process in this regard.”  The mayor said he had no alternative but to ask her to resign, explaining as follows:  “We note that following the revelations that have come to the fore‚ the prima facie evidence before us and the controversy surrounding the matter‚ as the executive mayor‚ I had no option but to ask her to resign.”  It emerged last week that when Msimanga and others appointed Aucamp to the post they believed she had a BTech qualification - but it turned out that she did not.

A short report by Kgaugelo Masweneng is at Timeslive. Read too, Tshwane ANC calls on Public Protector to release findings on city's chief of staff, at News24

Tshwane qualifications furore could force DA to probe truthfulness of members involved

BusinessLive reports that the resignation of Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga’s chief of staff, Marietha Aucamp, has raised the possibility of the Democratic Alliance (DA) investigating whether anybody in the party deliberately acted untruthfully in the matter.  A furore erupted following reports that Aucamp did not have the requisite qualifications for the senior position to which she was appointed in the city’s administration.  It was alleged she had lied about her qualifications and claimed to have a BTech degree when it later emerged that her highest qualification was matric.  Aucamp was placed on special leave last Wednesday and tendered her resignation on Thursday after she was asked to do so by Msimanga.  The ANC in the city has called on Msimanga to resign over the matter.  The mayor was a member of the interviewing panel for the position.  DA federal council chairman James Selfe said on Friday:  "Marietha has resigned, which now opens up the possibility that we investigate whether there was anybody in the party, including herself, who deliberately acted in an untruthful way."  Aucamp has denied that she submitted a form that indicated that she possessed a BTech degree.

Read this report by Claudi Mailovich in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Tshwane ANC lays fraud charge against ‘Hlaudi’ Aucamp, at The Citizen


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE / LIVING WAGE

Saftu threatens national shutdown if national minimum wage bill is not scrapped

The Citizen reports that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said on Thursday their efforts towards a living minimum wage would be broadened and intensified if their demands were not met.  This came after the federation’s members were violently kicked out of parliament where the matter of the national minimum wage (NMW) was being discussed on Wednesday.  The portfolio committee had been convened to ratify proposed amendments to labour laws, including the proposed NMW of R20 per hour.  Saftu spokesperson Patrick Craven said:  “Saftu says no to poverty pay and attacks on union rights.  Already yesterday (Wednesday), workers in Cape Town peacefully demonstrated in the portfolio committee meeting, in support of the campaign [to scrap the minimum wage bill] and let the members of parliament know how strongly they feel.  They were then violently ejected from the meeting by parliamentary security staff.  This is just the beginning.  We shall be seen again when the National Assembly and NCOP debate these bills and we shall be taking to the streets again, in ever increasing numbers.”  Craven said the union was calling on workers to remain mobilised and if parliament did not scrap the bill, would consider a total shutdown of the economy for two to three days.

Read this report by Chisom Jenniffer Okoye in full at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Saftu threatens to take national minimum wage war to court, at Fin24


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Steinhoff faces an exodus of skilled staff amid fears of job losses and worthless stock options

BL Premium reports that an employee exodus might be on the cards at retailer Steinhoff as it edges closer to bankruptcy and skilled staff look for better opportunities.  But some industry analysts also warn of retrenchments among the group's 130,000-strong global workforce.  Zwelakhe Mnguni of Benguela Global Fund Managers said an exodus of highly skilled people was likely:  "If you just take all the claims ... and look at the debt, I can't imagine anybody who would want to stay there if there is a possibility of retrenchment."  Moreover, the share options of the highly skilled employees “are worthless and there is no prospect of recovering from that kind of situation".  While the Steinhoff board has tried to reassure employees that the firm will preserve jobs, a spokesperson said this week that during “a difficult and uncertain time like we have and are going through” it was naturally more difficult to convince staff that their jobs were secure.  Since December, Steinhoff has had eight resignations at head office level, while some staff in head office group services such as company secretarial, tax and treasury departments have been moved to the underlying operations “where the skills are needed closer to the operations."  Currently, Steinhoff employs 80 people at its head office compared to 125 employees three years ago.  On whether Steinhoff would consider retrenchments, the spokesperson said: "Not at this stage."

Read this report by Palesa Vuyolwethu Tshandu in full at BL Premium (paywall access)


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

East London doctor arrested for issuing fake medical certificates, at R350 apiece

SABC News reports that a medical doctor and her assistant from East London in the Eastern Cape have been arrested allegedly for issuing fake medical certificates to patients.  It is alleged that the 67-year-old doctor charged about R350 per certificate.  She and her 37-year-old assistant made a brief appearance in the East London Magistrate’s court on fraud charges on Thursday.  The suspects were released on warning and will appear in court again on 19 June.  The arrests came after an investigation conducted by the Hawks and crime intelligence originating from complaints received from a government department about suspicious medical certificates issued by the suspect.  The Hawks sent an undercover police to investigate and the officer received sick notes two occasions without examination.  One was back-dated and another post-dated.

A short report is at SABC News


WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Equal Education rocked by three resignations amid sexual harassment accusations

News24 writes that Equal Education's (EE’s) sexual harassment woes have multiplied after its treasurer Doron Isaacs joined two other members who have been accused of sexual harassment and have resigned as a result.  EE announced on Friday evening that Isaacs submitted a letter to its national council in which he resigned as treasurer of EE and as a member of the organisation.  Despite resigning amid allegations of sexual harassment, the organisation said that Isaacs has not accepted any wrongdoing and indicated that he was prepared to submit himself to an independent investigation.  The Mail & Guardian reported earlier on Friday that several women had spoken out about having been sexually harassed by Isaacs.  He joins former general secretary Tshepo Motsepe and former head of national organising Luyolo Mazwembe, who also resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment earlier this month.  The organisation's interim national coordinator Leanne Jansen-Thomas said that EE had acted swiftly to address every allegation that had been put before it.

Read this report by Alex Mitchley in full at News24. Read too, Equal Education treasurer resigns following sexual harassment allegations, at Mail & Guardian. And also, I did not cover for Isaacs, says Zackie Achmat on sexual harassment allegations, at News24. As well as, Activist denies covering up on sexual harassment, at Saturday Star

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Gender Commission: We want justice served for Manana's ex-domestic worker, at EWN
  • Manana tells police he wants his day in court, at SowetanLive

 


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