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
Thursday, 31 May 2018.


KZN government commits to providing safe environment for audits

ANA reports that the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) on Wednesday emphasised government's commitment to ensuring a safe and secure environment for the Auditor-General's work.  This came after alleged threats were made against auditors by unknown individuals at eThekwini municipality in recent days.  "We wish to state categorically that no threats by anyone bent on undermining our democratic institutions will be tolerated by any municipality in KZN.  We assure the Auditor-General's office that its teams are free to perform their duties in all municipalities in the province without fear or favour," KZN member of the executive council (MEC) for Cogta Nomusa Dube-Ncube said.  The alleged threats led to the temporary withdrawal of the Auditor-General's staff in the eThekwini municipality.  The eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede has since pledged to increase security for auditors in her municipality.  "We would like to assure all South Africans that no municipality in this province will tolerate any form of interference or threats of violence against any official from any institutions tasked with an oversight mandate,” said Dube-Ncube.

Read this report by Thembelihle Mkhonza in full at IOL News. Read too, Tight security for A-G officials, on page 4 of The Star of 31 May 2018


NUM to focus on job losses, health and safety and rot in state firms at national congress next month

ANA reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will discuss job losses in the industry, the health and safety of workers and corruption at state-owned companies at its national congress next month  The NUM, formed 35 years ago, said on Thursday its 16th congress on 20-22 June would also discuss the government’s decision to sign deals with independent power producers (IPPs) on behalf of Eskom, a move it said amounted to attempts to privatise the state-owned power utility, which would lead to job losses.  The government in April signed renewable energy contracts with independent power producers, which it said would unlock R56 billion in investments, but which unions insisted would lead to massive job losses in the coal sector.  The NUM also said it was concerned about fatalities in the mining industry, which it blamed on companies’ reckless pursuit of profit.”  The union, which is affiliated to labour federation Cosatu, a key ally of the ruling African National Congress, said its congress would also deliberate on what resources it could make available to bolster the ANC’s campaign for next year’s general election.

Read this report in full at The Citizen

Families of Lily Mine victims paid out

The Star reports that the families of three miners assumed to have died in the Lily Mine disaster in Mpumalanga, have been compensated – two years later.  The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) told this to parliament’s portfolio committee on mineral resources during its update on the operations at the Lily Mine and the Gupta-owned mines.  The DMR’s chief inspector of mines, Mthokozisi Zondi, indicated:  “The families of the victims were paid R200 000 each.  ‘Workers were also paid R10000 each, with a balance of R40000 to be paid by the new owner.  ‘The inquiry report has also been completed.”  Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyirenda were trapped underground on 5 February 2016 when the container they were working in as a lamp room was buried when ground caved in.  MPs welcomed the report on Lily Mine and also heard that mining operations and the recovery of the bodies of the three missing mine workers would resume in November.  The mine stopped operations in April 2016 to allow for the extraction of the bodies from underground.  It was subsequently placed under business rescue.  MPs also heard that the Gupta-owned Brakfontein, Koornfontein, Optimum and Shiva mines were operational but non-compliant and flouting mining regulations.

Read more of this report by Mary Jane Mphahlele at SA Labour News.   Read too, Mineral Resources Department exposes Tegeta labour issues, at Business Report

NUM says government has failed to hold mining company to account for Lily Mine tragedy

EWN reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says that two years after the disappearance of three workers at Lily Mine, government has failed to hold to account the Australian mining company responsible for the deadly rock fall.  The Mineral Resources Department revealed in Parliament on Wednesday that the families of the three miners have been compensated with R200,000 for the tragedy at the Mpumalanga gold mine.  Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Nkambule and Solomon Nyerende were trapped in a container being used as a lamp room when a crown pillar collapsed and buried them under soil and rocks.  The NUM’s Joseph Montisetse said:  “They were doing and saying nothing about the company that is squarely responsible for killing people.  The department has failed dismally to follow up on that.”

A short report by Mia Lindeque is at EWN

Postings on Mining Charter

  • Mantashe concludes Mining Charter community consultation tour in KZN on Thursday, at Mining Weekly


Rubber bullets fired at striking workers at Shoprite Centurion warehouse

News24 reports that retail company Shoprite has been accused of using "dirty tricks" when dealing with striking workers at its Centurion warehouse.  Video footage shows thousands of workers running into the veld as what appear to be private security guards fire rounds of rubber bullets into a crowd.  "They are using private security and shooting at employees.  Some were wounded that day," said Ephraim Mphahlele from the National Transport Movement Union (NTM).  The union is representing some of the staffers in wage negotiations with the retailer.  Mphahlele said around 2,000 staffers had downed tools in demand of better wages and working conditions.  “They want R12,000, they want the company to provide them with medical aid, a provident fund and a night shift allowance," Mphahlele indicated.  An unnamed truck driver said there had in fact been two shooting incidents, the first after dark on Wednesday and the other around 17:30 on Thursday afternoon.  Shoprite commented on the video as follows:  "Employees from a service provider have been striking at the distribution centre in Centurion since 23 May 2018.  Police on the scene took control of the situation, giving effect to a court order being disregarded."

Read this report by Tshidi Madia and view the video footage at News24

Negotiations underway in North West to restore health services ‘progressing well’

News24 reports that North West Social Development MEC Hoffman Galeng has been meeting with the provincial Nehawu leadership over the past two weeks to resolve the disruption of health services in the province.  Since the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) embarked on strike action in February, the provincial health sector has been under considerable strain.  Department of Social Development spokesperson Petrus Siko said negotiations were at an advanced stage and were progressing well.  "The union and the department have compiled a report on the issues affecting the employees and it will be presented to the Minister of Social Development, Susan Shabangu, on Friday by both parties," he indicated.  Among the workers’ grievances are outsourcing, corruption and unpaid bonuses.  They are also demanding a forensic investigation into various provincial departments.  The two parties have apparently agreed to stop the hostility against each other.  "We are hopeful that the normal services will soon be restored and provided to the communities across the province," Galeng said.

Read this report by Christina Pitt in full at News24. See too, NCOP committee to oversee North West government intervention, at BusinessLive


Gates of Charlotte Maxeke hospital locked as protests over unpaid bonuses erupts

Timeslive reports that protesting workers trashed the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg on Thursday in a dispute over unpaid bonuses.  Black bags containing rubbish were emptied along the corridors‚ contaminating what was meant to be a hygienic environment.  Some patients were wheeled through the piles of rubbish by some of the non-striking workers.  A revolving door had been blocked from the inside with a heap of metallic chairs.  Outside the hospital‚ arriving patients – including pregnant women and some patients in wheelchairs – left the facility without seeking treatment.  Earlier‚ the gates to the facility were locked in an attempt to contain the demonstrators.  Debris of rocks and tree stumps‚ paper and food also lined the road leading to the hospital.  A hospital source said:  “We presume it is related to performance evaluations which [used to] lead to the awarding of bonuses.  But now‚ there is no money for bonuses.”  Apparently there was no harm to the patients inside and they had medics who were attending to them.

Read this report by Naledi Shange in full at Timeslive. See too, Patients at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital threatened by protesting staff, at EWN. And also, Chaos erupts at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital as striking gets out of control, at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Striking nurses at Yusuf Dadoo and Leratong hospitals demand bonuses, on page 3 of AfroVoice of 31 May 2018
  • Leratong Hospital cans surgeries due to strike, on page 4 of Sowetan of 31 May 2018


MEC warns of no bonuses or salary increases for employees at failing KZN councils

BusinessLive reports that KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, said on Wednesday that there would be no bonuses or salary increases for employees at municipalities that performed poorly.  She was reacting to the release of the 2016-17 municipal audit outcomes by Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu, who painted a bleak picture of the financial situation of municipalities in the country.  KZN municipalities received seven unqualified audits with no other findings‚ 33 unqualified audits with findings‚ 10 qualified audits‚ two adverse audit opinions and two audit disclaimers.  But Dube-Ncube said that despite an overall regression‚ the province had retained its position as the second-best-performing province.  The province’s Operation Bounce Back strategy places a premium on consequence management by penalising poor performance.  But it has emerged that two unidentified poorly performing municipalities have already paid performance bonuses to their employees.  Now the department is engaging with them on how to recover the monies.

Read this report by Bongani Mthethwa and Thabo Mokone in full at BusinessLive


Saftu threatens two-day strike over national minimum ‘slave wage’

The Citizen reports that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) is preparing to fight the National Minimum Wage Bill passed by the National Assembly this week with mass mobilisation that will culminate in a two-day national strike.  Rival labour federations Cosatu and Fedusa on the other hand have welcomed the passing of the bill.  The draft legislation, which seeks to introduce a minimum wage of R3,500 per month or R20 an hour, is headed for the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) before it will be sent for signing by President Cyril Ramaphosa.  On Wednesday, Saftu deputy general secretary Moleko Phakedi said they would embark on a national strike because the wage was tantamount to a slave wage.  The federation added it would intensify its campaign against the Bill, along with the attendant legislation that required workers to undertake a balloting process before embarking on a strike.  Saftu recently organised its first national strike against the wage and its legislation.  Phakedi said they would soon embark on another national strike to voice their opposition to the Bill.  “We’re going to have two to three days strike action, for government to realise workers and working class will not fold their arms when they’re being attacked.”

Read this report by Eric Naki in full at The Citizen. Read too, Labour law amendments met with mixed reactions, at City Press


ConCourt reserves judgment in Saccawu’s bid to get unfairly retrenched employees reinstated rather than compensated

BusinessLive reports that the SA Commercial Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) said on Wednesday that employees who were retrenched by Woolworths for not accepting the terms of the conversion to flexitime in 2012 must be reinstated.  On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) reserved judgment in a case against Woolworths brought by the union, which is seeking leave to appeal against a ruling by the Labour Appeal Court (LAC) in a case dealing with Woolworths’s conversion to flexitime.  The case involved 44 workers, all Saccawu members, who had been retrenched when they did not accept the conversion, early retirement or voluntary severance.  Saccawu applied to the Labour Court, which held that Woolworths had failed to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that the dismissal of the employees was operationally justifiable.  It also held that Woolworths had failed appropriately to consider alternatives to dismissal.  Woolworths was ordered to reinstate the dismissed workers retrospectively from the date of their dismissal without loss of pay.  Woolworths appealed to the LAC, which agreed with the Labour Court that the dismissals had been unfair, but did not agree with the remedy since the full-time posts were since redundant.  Instead the LAC awarded the payment of 12 months’ compensation.

Read this report by Ann Crotty in full at BusinessLive


ConCourt hears argument on Thursday on whether 'hit the boer' song is a dismissible offence

eNCA reports that the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) was due on Thursday to hear an application about whether workers can be fired for singing certain struggle songs.  In 2013, nine Duncanmec employees in Germiston were fired for singing a song which included the words "my mother is rejoicing when we hit the boers".  The Engineering Bargaining Council and the Labour Court ordered that the employees be reinstated.  But the employer argues the relationship with the employees has broken down irreparably.

This short report is at eNCA. Read too, Can you dismiss an employee for posting a racist comment on Facebook? at Moneyweb. And also, ConCourt explains the test for racism in the workplace, at The Citizen

'Hit the boer' song was racist‚ ConCourt hears

Timeslive reports that the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) heard on Thursday that it should adopt a position that if racism was proved in the workplace‚ dismissal should follow as a result unless there were exceptional circumstances.  This was put forward by manufacturer Duncanmec‚ which dismissed eight employees in 2013 for signing during the course of an unprotected strike a struggle song in isiZulu that‚ when translated‚ means: "Climb on top of the roof and tell them that my mother is rejoicing when we hit the boer”.  The workers challenged their dismissal and in May 2014 an arbitrator found that the employees had been unfairly dismissed.  In July 2016‚ the Labour Court dismissed Duncanmec’s application to review the arbitrator’s award, saying that it had been unfair to dismiss the employees for singing a popular struggle song even though it may have offended some managers‚ particularly white managers.  The Labour Appeal Court later dismissed the company’s appeal against that finding.  Duncanmec then approached the Constitutional Court.  The lawyer for Duncanmec told the court on Thursday:  “Dismissal should follow unless exceptional circumstances exist. In this case‚ exceptional circumstances do not exist.”  He argued the phrasing of the song‚ which referred to hitting a white person‚ should not be justified more than 20 years into democracy.

Read this report by Ernest Mabuza in full at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Court rules man who called colleague ‘swart man’ was being racist, at EWN


New portfolio committee chairs include Joe Maswanganyi for public service and Lemias Mashile for labour

BusinessLive reports that former transport minister Joe Maswanganyi has been appointed as the new chairman of Parliament’s portfolio committee on public service and administration.  The position was previously held by Cassel Mathale, who is now serving as the deputy minister of the Department of Small Business Development.  A number of vacancies in several committees were created primarily by the redeployment of people to other positions within and outside Parliament, while two ANC members died earlier in 2018.  Lusizo Sharon Makhubela-Mashele becomes the new chairwoman of the tourism committee, Lemias Mashile (previously the chairman of the home affairs committee) the chairman of the labour committee, and Hlomane Patrick Chauke is the new chairman of the home affairs committee.

A short report by Linda Ensor is at BusinessLive


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page