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
Wednesday, 6 June 2018.


Solidarity launches four-pronged steel industry initiative amid global steel crisis

Engineering News reports that Solidarity on Tuesday launched a four-pronged initiative to address and mitigate the impacts of the global steel crisis on local steel producers in an attempt to save jobs and local manufacturing capacity. The trade union’s Marius Croucamp indicated that direct job losses of more than 7,500 were possible as a result of the US’s unilateral decision to impose ad valorem duties of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium products.  One part of the initiative is to take the voice of steelworkers and the public to the US by filing a petition addressed to President Trump on the White House website.  “Solidarity wants to mobilise all South African workers to support their fellow countrymen working in the steel industry by signing the petition,” Croucamp exhorted.  The petition can be signed at until 27 June 2018.  The four strategic elements of Solidarity’s campaign encompass local interaction (including consultation with employers and employees in the affected industries); international consultation (also covering international labour organisations and trade unions); a social plan to support the affected communities; and the development of a long-term recovery plan.   Croucamp pointed out that further risks to the steel and metals sector included high electricity prices and a carbon tax and he expressed the hope that government would exempt or support these industries if a carbon tax was imposed.

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


'If you don’t fill these medical specialist posts‚ the whole health structure will collapse'

Timeslive reports that SA is facing the risk of an even more severe shortage of specialist doctors - a scenario that would hit the state and private health sectors hard‚ and one that has the health minister “worried”.  The SA Committee of Medical Deans says the poor state of provincial health departments "destabilises" academic training of doctors.  It has called for more provinces to be put under national administration and for public hearings into the state of government healthcare.  According to the head of the committee‚ Professor Martin Veller‚ fewer registrars (specialists in training) are likely to be employed by the state in Gauteng after they qualify because positions have been frozen by the cash-strapped provincial health department.  Gauteng trains the highest number of doctors in Africa.  Also, specialists are currently not being hired by the state for the same reason.  This comes as others resign‚ so there could be too few to train registrars.  A doctor in the state service said:  "I would estimate that by 2019‚ Gauteng will be 40-50% down in absolute number of qualified doctors employed in the state.  That's going to collapse an already terrible system further."  Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi met with Prof Veller on Monday over the deans’ concerns.  A day later‚ he told a news conference that if Gauteng did not hire enough doctors and specialists in senior positions‚ he would consider putting its health department under administration.  On Tuesday, the health ombudsman described healthcare in SA as being on the brink of collapse, which Motsoaledi disputed.

Read this extensive report by Katharine Child in full at Timeslive. Read too, Public healthcare system is very distressed, but not collapsing, says Motsoaledi, at News24. And also, Medical deans’ prescription for SA’s public health emergency, at BusinessLive

Scathing report by standards office contradicts Motsoaledi's claims on public health services

BusinessLive reports that as Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Tuesday moved to assure that the state health services were not falling apart, a report cataloging a shocking series of failings in the public health sector was tabled in Parliament.  According the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) report, only five of the 696 hospitals and clinics it inspected in 2016-17 complied with the Department of Health’s norms and standards to achieve an 80% “pass mark”.  The inspections covered just under a fifth of SA’s 3,816 public health facilities.  The OHSC is a statutory body charged with assessing the quality of hospitals and clinics.  But Motsoaledi was at pains to emphasise that the healthcare system was still able to provide treatment to 4.2-million people with HIV, care for 300,000 tuberculosis patients and had improved care for pregnant women.  Deaths from TB had halved between 2009 and 2015, falling from 69,251 to 33,603 over the period, he pointed out.  “We do not think that a collapsing or collapsed system can be able to do these [things],” he opined.  Motsoaledi said he was aware of the lack of hospital management skills and the negative attitudes of staff in many facilities, and would deploy 200 officials from the national department of health to assist public hospital managers.

Read this report by Tamar Kahn in full at BusinessLive

Other reports in this news category

  • Overseas health workers the answer, says DA, on page 6 of The Citizen of 6 June 2018
  • SA needs to “import the skills until it has its own”, on page 13 of Afro Voice of 4 June 2018


Mpumalanga hospitals and clinics to be protected by armed guards

BusinessLive reports that provincial hospitals and clinics in Mpumalanga are to be protected by armed guards following a spate of robberies at health facilities in the province over the past few months.  The provincial community safety department said on Tuesday that it had resolved to deploy armed guards with immediate effect in all provincial hospitals and community health centres.  The latest incident occurred last month in Mapulaneng Hospital where a doctor was nearly shot by thieves conducting a robbery at the doctor’s residence.  Spokesperson Joseph Mabuza said a security situational analysis was conducted on safety at health facilities during a meeting between health MEC Gillion Mashego‚ finance MEC Eric Kholwane and community safety and security and liaison MEC Pat Ngomane on Monday.  It was not immediately clear whether existing guards at hospitals were certified to carry firearms or whether new guards‚ with the appropriate certification‚ would be brought in.

Read this report by Naledi Shange at BusinessLive


Junior mining companies ideal for job creation, deputy minerals minister tells indaba

Fin24 reports that according to the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant, investment in smaller mining companies could help stem the tide of job losses in the troubled sector and speed up the process of beneficiation.  Addressing the Junior Mining Indaba on Tuesday, Oliphant said the new junior miners’ programme would provide opportunities for small-scale players entering the sector.  During his address Oliphant said:  “The mining sector has over the past years seen a large number of job losses.... the sector currently employs just about 450,000 people.  That can change if we invest in junior mining.”  Oliphant said there were currently over 90 companies on the junior mining database, and most of them had challenges over access to capital required for projects.  He added:  "Emerging miners in South Africa are faced with a number of challenges including, among others, delays in the administration of mining rights and water use licence applications... and in some instances lack of technical expertise."  He told delegates that his department was working with the Department of Trade and Industry to help smaller mining firms gain knowledge from other emerging countries and seek investors.

Read this report by Sibongile Khumalo in full at Fin24

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • NUM ready for its upcoming 16th national congress, says David Sipunzi, at NUM News
  • Illegal mining operations in KwaMachi grind to a halt, rock samples sent for testing, at News24

Postings on Mining Charter

  • New Mining Charter to be revealed within days, says mineral resources deputy minister, at BusinessLive


Metrobus drivers belonging to Demawusa embark on strike, block buses at depot

News24 reports that commuters in some areas served by Johannesburg's Metrobus routes were forced to use alternative buses and forms of transport on Tuesday.  Employees affiliated to the Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of SA (Demawusa) embarked on a strike, blocked buses from leaving Village Main depot and disrupted daily operations.  Two bus drivers were injured and taken to hospital.  Among its long list of demands, the union wanted Metrobus to pay salary progressions based on number of years of service and long-term service salary bonuses.  Metrobus spokesperson Goodwill Shiburi said the main issue they had noted was that Demawusa members wanted to be recognised as a union representing workers and therefore "embarking on a strike was a way to seek attention for that recognition".  "We have declined at least four of [their] demands, because they were already resolved at the bargaining council with other unions.  We will meet again tomorrow (Wednesday) to engage on other matters they have put forward and will hopefully come to an agreement," Shiburi indicated.  Demawusa was launched in 2015 after some members broke away from the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu).

Read this report by Sesona Ngqakamba in full at News24

Samwu denies involvement of members in sabotage of water supplies in Ugu district

Afro Voice reports that the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has distanced itself from what its provincial secretary Jaycee Ncanana called “acts of criminality” in the Ugu District Municipality.  According to the municipality, striking workers were responsible for sabotaging water supplies in the area.  For over a week, thousands of Ugu residents have been left with dry taps and have had to rely on water tankers as the strike rages on.  Municipal workers, some represented by Samwu, downed tools last week following the implementation of the ‘no work, no pay’ policy after they embarked on an illegal strike in March.  The deductions came into effect in May.  Ncanana, who condemned the alleged acts of sabotage, said they were willing to negotiate with the municipality, but denied the allegation that Samwu members were part of the sabotage.  He added:  “As the leaders of Samwu, we did not sanction any act of sabotage.”

Read more of this report by Sibongiseni Maphumulo at SA Labour News


SABC asked by portfolio committee to attend to its staff's grievances

News24 reports that the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications has impressed on the board of the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) the importance of restoring trust with its employees.  The committee was not impressed with the board's presentation at its meeting on Tuesday, and complained that it did not have enough detail on the issues raised by labour unions, which covered the dismissal of employees alleged to have been involved in a medical aid scam, and the case of 26 members of the television licences call centre who went on an unprotected strike.  After examining hard copies of a document that had been circulated, members were still not impressed and demanded more detail.  It was told that the decision in respect of the employees who had allegedly defrauded the medical scheme had been upheld by the CCMA and that the medical aid scheme had taken the matter to court.  On the matter of the 26 employees dismissed from the TV licence division, the committee was of the view that the board had rushed the case and acted harshly.  The ministry and the board were requested to engage further on the decisions taken in the two cases and to provide a report.  The committee further appealed to the board to attend to the grievances raised by unions and provide a detailed report.

Read this report by Jan Gerber in full at News24


SAA touts surplus pilots and cabin crew to other airlines as it scraps routes

Bloomberg reports that SA Airways (SAA) is offering surplus pilots and cabin crew to major global carriers as part of a bid to cut costs and secure alliances in its three-year turnaround plan.  CEO Vuyani Jarana said in an interview that the unprofitable state-owned carrier needed fewer staff of its own as it scrapped under-performing routes, and viewed the experienced personnel as a path to discussions with potential partners.  “The hiring airline gets ready-made skills and we benefit from a reduction in overheads without people losing jobs.  We’ve got things they need, but also if they’re able to come through for us, then it’s a win-win.”  Talks have been held with Kenya Airways, Emirates and others.  One goal of striking partnerships would be to tap markets SAA doesn’t serve.  .  Staff could take up temporary or permanent contracts elsewhere and return if and when SAA resumed growth, according to Jarana, who said it would be “great” if transfers alone could shrink the company to the right size.  He wouldn’t say how many pilots and flights attendants might lose their jobs or be available for transfer.  Outright firings stand to be costly and damaging.  Jarana also declined to comment on the possibility of SAA taking over its Mango low-cost affiliate and rival state-owned operator SA Express Airways, which was grounded on 24 May, saying the issue was not in the company’s hands at the moment.

Read this report by Kaye Wiggins in full at Moneyweb

Johannesburg deploys 91 new firefighters on 4 June

The Citizen reports that after a three-month intensive induction training programme, 91 brave men and women started work at various Johannesburg fire stations on 4 June.  Acting emergency medical services (EMS) head Mhlengi Makhubalo and MMC for Public Safety Michael Sun deployed the firefighters on 1 June, after they were trained in primary and secondary search and rescue, high-rise building training, self-contained breathing apparatus, motor vehicle accident extraction and hot fire drills.  Sun congratulated them on completing the programme and gave words of appreciation and encouragement on serving Johannesburg residents.  EMS spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said the newly recruited firefighters were ready to deal with any emergency situations they might have to face in the line of duty.  The City is also awaiting the training of its 1,500 new Metro police recruits to conclude.  The 18-month training programme started in October last year.

A short report by CNS Reporter at The Citizen

City of Cape Town sets aside R45m to recruit new metro police, traffic officials

EWN reports that the City of Cape Town has set aside R45 million to appoint more metro police and traffic officials.  The safety and security directorate has been allocated more than R110 million under the terms of the city's 2018/2019 budget.  The city's JP Smith said that increasing staff numbers was part of ongoing efforts to expand the municipality's policing and emergency resources.  “The move for more visible policing was further highlighted by the public inputs about the levels of crime, violence and lack of road safety submitted by the public during the budget comment period.  We have, however, emphasised that this alone will not stem the tide, and so we call on the criminal justice system to help secure successful convictions,” Smith stated.  The directorate also plans to expend just over R27 million for the ongoing construction of fire stations in Masiphumelele and Sir Lowry's Pass.  About R5 million will also be spent on adding and replacing CCTV equipment.

This short report by Shamiela Fisher is at EWN


State leads the way in meeting racial employment equity targets, but disability still a challenge

BusinessLive reports that according to Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, the public service has met employment equity targets for racial quotas.  Responding to a written question from the Freedom Front Plus, Dlodlo indicated in Parliament on Tuesday that as at 30 April 2018 the public service consisted of 1,139,715 public servants.  "The public service largely mirrors the demographics of the country and consists of an African population of 81.4% [927,446], coloured population of 8.6% [98,333], white population of 7.5% [85,422] and the Asian population of 2.5% [28,514]," Dlodlo reported.  She said employment equity targets had successfully been met in terms of race and that employment of persons with disabilities in the public service had been consistently increasing, although not satisfactorily.  "The 2% equity target in terms of disability has not been reached and is currently standing at 0.95%," she indicated.  The government has been struggling to enforce transformation in the private sector, where the white population occupies about 72% of top management positions.

Read this report by Bekezela Phakathi in full at BusinessLive


Police captain in Pretoria court on Wednesday accused of 'racial abuse' towards colleagues

Timeslive reports that a police captain was due to go on trial in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday for allegedly being racist towards his colleagues.  According to Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR)‚ black police officers at a police station in Pretoria had filed both internal and criminal complaints against the officer for numerous alleged acts of racism against them.  “The complainants in this matter accuse their superior (the captain) of referring to them by the k-word and verbally harassing them‚” LHR indicated in a statement.  LHR was approached by several police officers to assist them in laying complaints against the captain.  “This case represents one of numerous cases filed by police officers testifying to acts of racism prevalent in various police stations across the country‚” said LHR.  The captain is facing a charge of criminal injuria.

Read this report by Naledi Shange in full at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SA’s workplaces are fraught with racial bias and it’s getting worse, at BL Premium (paywall access)


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page