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
Monday, 21 May 2018.


MINING LABOUR

Court petition by Mining Forum SA to stop Lonmin takeover by Sibanye-Stillwater

Business Report writes that Mining Forum of SA, a non-profit organisation advocating for the rights of mining communities in North West, has decided to petition the North West High Court in order to block the Lonmin takeover by Sibanye-Stillwater.  If successful, this would throw a spanner in the works of the proposed R5.1billion deal, which last week got a boost after the SA Reserve Bank cleared it.  The forum has been disaffected with Lonmin for a while over the platinum miner’s alleged failure to meet its socio-economic obligations.  The forum’s Blessings Ramoba said on Friday that the organisation wanted the court to revoke Lonmin’s mining licence for failing to implement social and labour plans between 2014 and this year.  Former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane suspended Lonmin’s licence in November last year, but the suspension was lifted three days later.  “We want the court to reinstate that suspension.  We want the court to put the sale on hold until Lonmin has fulfilled its obligations to the community in terms of the social and labour plans,” Ramoba said.  In his view, Lonmin was in breach of its statutory obligations in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Development Act.

Read this report by Siseko Njobeni in full at Business Report

Netshitenzhe calls for tighter accountability in implementation of mining social and labour plans

Business Report writes that according to Joel Netshitenzhe of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (Mistra), there should be tighter systems and structures of accountability in the implementation of mining social and labour plans.  Netshitenzhe, an ANC national executive committee member, said last week that it was one of the lessons from the 2012 Marikana tragedy, the 2014 platinum strike, as well as social instability in mining areas related to community infrastructure development, the living-out allowance and related practices.  “While many mine operators have allocated resources for community development, a major weakness relates to the extent of co-operation between the mining houses and various spheres of government,” he noted.  He said mining companies should be actively involved in the conceptualisation and implementation of municipal and provincial development strategies and plans.  “Systems and structures of accountability to communities need to be improved and should involve the highest levels of the companies,” said Netshitenzhe.  His comments were contained in a paper on mining, released by Mistra released on Friday, dealing with the role of mining in the attainment of the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP).  “The core argument is that the collective of partners in mining – private companies, workers, mining communities and the state – need to develop together a vision and a programme that aligns with the objectives of the NDP,” said Netshitenzhe.

Read more of this report by Siseko Njobeni at SA Labour News. Access the full working paper at Mistra Online

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Learning opportunities in mining at Murray & Roberts Training Academy in Carletonville, at Mining Weekly


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Signing on Monday of public sector wage deal delayed for more consultation

BusinessLive reports that public sector unions on Monday delayed the conclusion of wage negotiations with the government, with only the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) signing the agreement reached last week on Friday.  Despite attending the meeting at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) where a signing ceremony was supposed to be held, the unions said they required more time before putting pen to paper.  This was to allow time for consultations with members.  Meanwhile, the Public Servants Association (PSA) said it would not sign because the deal did not address its members’ demands.  Labour federation Fedusa, to which PSA is affiliated, said on Sunday that it was concerned about the speed at which parties were moving to conclude the deal.  Its general secretary, Dennis George, indicated that members still had to be consulted.  The biggest union in the public sector, the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), said on Saturday it would engage with members on the wage offer.  Cosatu unions, including Popcru and Nehawu, are expected to discuss the wage offer at a central executive committee meeting of the federation sitting from Monday to Wednesday.  The proposed agreement would secure pay increases for employees of 6%-7% for 2018-19.  Wages would increase by the consumer price index (CPI) plus 1%, to CPI for the successive two years.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive


ECONOMIC POLICY / JOB CREATION

Seven companies face closure as solar water heater programme ditched

City Press reports that seven manufacturing companies might have to shut their doors due the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) abrupt announcement last month of a R0 budget for the National Solar Water Heater (NSWH) programme.  Last year’s NSWH budget was R394 million.  In at least one factory – Isolar in Atlantis in the Western Cape – 85 employees have not received their salaries since February.  Isolar administrators said the department still owed the company R40m for an order that was completed in November.  The NSWH programme started in 2010 as a rebate scheme under Eskom to replace existing electrified geysers with solar water heaters to alleviate the demand for power from the national grid.  In 2015, the DOE took over the programme and changed the focus to providing solar water heaters to state-subsidised and unelectrified homes.  The existence of Isolar and other manufacturers was nurtured by the state programme, which also stipulated that 70% of the components had to be sourced locally.  It is believed the NSWH budget was reclaimed by Treasury due to lack of expenditure and the failure of the programme.  To date, only about 87,000 of the proposed 1.25 million units have been manufactured, and the related installation phase of the NSWH programme has not been implemented at all.  Deputy Energy Minister Thembisile Majola said last week her department was “very worried” about the seven companies, but was “engaging with them”.

Read this report by Steve Kretzmann in full at Fin24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


YOUTH EMPLOYMENT

Ramaphosa lauds Volvo group's youth employment initiative in Durban

Timeslive reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised Volvo Group SA for its continuing investment in the country’s economy and commitment to the empowerment and development of the youth.  He was speaking during the Volvo Group Southern Africa’s youth empowerment initiative held at the company’s assembly plant in Umbongingwini in Durban on Saturday.  The Volvo Group is planning to invest R25-million during 2018 on apprenticeship training and internships.  The company has already invested more than R86-million since 2015.  Torbjörn Christensson‚ president of Volvo Group SA‚ indicated that during the course of the year‚ they will also establish a specialised driver training academy to address the shortage of skilled drivers in the region at an investment of R1.4-million.  “We’re also continuing our involvement in Star for Life‚ a non-profit organisation that aims to provide young people in southern Africa with essential skills‚ sport training and health education.  Just in three years from 2017 to 2019‚ we are planning to invest around R7.8-million in this very worthy cause‚” he said.  Ramaphosa said the greatest challenge to social development in SA and to economic development was the high rate of unemployment, adding that:  “We therefore applaud Volvo for making youth development such an integral part of its social investment programme.”

Read this report by Bongani Mthethwa in full at Timeslive


EMPLOYEE SHARE SCHEMES / ESOPS

Steinhoff repurchased shares from its employee scheme shortly before price wipe-out

BusinessLive reports that Steinhoff International repurchased 40.4-million shares from its employee share-participation scheme in a transaction valued at about R2.3bn around 24 October 2017.  This was just weeks before the December 2017 announcement about "accounting irregularities" that wiped out most of the value of the shares.  The purchase of shares from a special purpose vehicle Steinhoff Sikhulasonke Investments, which was set up as an employee/black economic empowerment (BEE) initiative in 2008, was part of a 78.4-million share repurchase transaction undertaken by Steinhoff.  It cost about R4.7bn in total.  The substantial cash outlay took place just weeks after Steinhoff’s audit committee was alerted to potential problems by Deloitte.  Although it is not uncommon for companies to repurchase their shares, this appears to have been the first repurchase by Steinhoff since its listing in Frankfurt in 2015.  Share repurchases can be used as a tool for capital management, but can also be manipulated to support a share price or boost reported earnings per share.  Steinhoff’s 2016 annual report indicated that the scheme was structured so that about 12,000 employees would own Steinhoff shares after nine years.  This week, Steinhoff confirmed that employees were paid cash instead of receiving shares, but would not say at what share price the payout was.

Read this detailed report by Ann Crotty in full at BusinessLive


EXECUTIVE PAY / WAGE GAP

Barclays Africa slammed at AGM on executive remuneration

Moneyweb reports that shareholders slammed Barclays Africa Group (soon to be renamed Absa Group) on executive pay at the group’s AGM last Tuesday, with 47.4% of those present voting against the company’s remuneration report.  The group had put two non-binding resolutions to the vote, namely one on the group’s policy and the other on its implementation.  In the case of the former, 76% voted in favour, but a vote of just 52.6% in favour of the group’s implementation of its remuneration was damning.  The third largest shareholder, Old Mutual Investment Group, voted against the non-binding resolution on the remuneration implementation report.  In its published reasons for this, it said “a vote against this item is warranted [as] one-off awards of restricted shares have been made to executive directors.  The performance conditions attached to these awards are based on a qualitative assessment of individual performance (and thus opaque to shareholders), and the performance period for these awards is less than three years.  Separately, the targets which apply to the performance share awards made during FY2017 are not disclosed.”  The bank’s second-largest shareholder, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) with 6.56%, more than likely also voted against the resolution.  And it is understood that Allan Gray also voted against the implementation resolution.

Read this report by Hilton Tarrant in full at Moneyweb


BASIC EDUCATION

Rural teachers in three provinces to get critical backup from assistant teachers

Mail & Guardian reports that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is undertaking a major effort to improve literacy and numeracy in three of the country’s most rural provinces.  Over the next three years, it will employ about 700 assistant teachers, who will be placed at primary schools in select areas.  The treasury has allocated an initial R29.2-million to the rural education assistant project, which will be increased to R58.3-million in the next two years, DBE Minister Angie Motshekga said in her budget speech last week.  Pilot projects will be run in the Alfred Nzo and OR Tambo coastal districts of the Eastern Cape, in the iLembe and Umzinyathi districts in KwaZulu-Natal and in the Sekhukhune and Mopani districts in Limpopo.  The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has welcomed the move, saying the employment of assistants will take a huge load off teachers and will allow them to focus on teaching.  But, Basil Manuel of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) said that, while the project might be a good idea, his organisation remained sceptical about it.  He said the department, by bringing in assistant teachers, was recognising what the unions had been saying all along — that the classes were too large.  The teacher unions have repeatedly called for more teachers to be hired, particularly in the three provinces concerned.  The project will run from this year until 2021.

Read this report by Bongekile Macupe in full at Mail & Guardian


HIGHER EDUCATION / QUALIFICATIONS

Higher Education getting ready for 'Fourth Industrial Revolution', Pandor advises

News24 reports that Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor said on Thursday in her budget speech that her department was gearing itself up for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  She indicated that she intended to set up a multi-sectoral task team to advise the higher education sector on how it should take up the opportunities that would be presented.  Speaking at a prior press briefing, Pandor said:  "In 2017 my colleague, Minister (Blade) Nzimande, referred to the challenges and opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  More recently, Professor (Tshilidzi) Marwala, the new vice-chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, has written of the transformative potential of the various elements that are identified as part of the technological revolution that is happening right before our eyes.  It is vital for DHET to devote dedicated attention to these changes and their implications for our universities, colleges and community education and training.”  Pandor noted that there was a need to be responsive to the Fourth Industrial Revolution's range of technologies, not only for their influence in the scientific domain but in society as well.  "And that readiness has to be institutional, but also human resource readiness.”

Read this report by Jan Gerber in full at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Pandor: Private sector can pay for post-graduates, at Business Times


MEDICAL SCHEMES / NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Samwu infighting leads to its medical aid board being placed under curatorship

News24 reports that infighting within the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) has led the Western Cape High Court to rule that the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) must place the Samwumed board under provisional curatorship.  While Samwu president Pule Molalenyane on Thursday denied that the union was in a "state of paralysis" and described such a claim as a myth, the CMS concluded otherwise.  "The CMS “submitted that the strife between the warring factions has resulted in material irregularities which have paralysed Samwu's management, including its ability to hold scheme meetings," reads a statement issued by the council on 9 May 2018.  On 1 May, Acting Judge P Andrews placed the scheme under provisional curatorship and ordered that Duduza Khosana be appointed as provisional curator.  The two key issues before the court revolved around whether the board of trustees of the scheme had been properly constituted, and whether the CMS had established that there was cause to warrant the appointment of a curator.  The council submitted that the medical aid scheme was closely associated with the trade union and that it had been affected by the internal strife that arose within Samwu in 2016.  The CMS further submitted that the strife between the warring factions resulted in material irregularities which had paralysed Samwu's management, including its ability to hold meetings.  Furthermore it was claimed that “Samwumed was unlawfully managed for approximately 20 months."  The case will return to court on 30 July and, if the curatorship is confirmed as final, it will continue until such time as all the issues at the scheme have been sorted out.

Read this report by Amanda Khoza in full at News24


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

O’Regan had herself told suspended SARS commissioner she was on Corruption Watch board

BusinessLive reports that former Constitutional Court Justice Kate O’Regan herself had informed suspended SA Revenue Service (SARS) boss Tom Moyane’s legal team that she had been a member of the board of Corruption Watch for a long period of time.  After President Cyril Ramaphosa rejected Moyane’s bid to have the state pay his legal costs and to amend the rules of engagement in the upcoming disciplinary inquiry, Moyane’s attorneys turned their attention to O’Regan.  They have demanded that she be removed as chairwoman of the inquiry because she is on the board of Corruption Watch.  The organisation had previously written to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) urging it to bring criminal charges against Moyane for his handling of the Financial Intelligence Report into his former second in command, Jonas Makwakwa.  While O’Regan, according to Corruption Watch insiders, is not involved in the running of the organisation, Moyane’s attorneys requested that she recuse herself.  The Presidency could not immediately be reached about how it would respond to the new challenge to the disciplinary process.

Read this report by Natasha Marrian in full at BusinessLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page