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, 8 June 2018.


TOP STORY – PUBLIC SECTOR WAGE DEAL

Majority of unions sign public sector wage agreement, PSA’s ‘day of rage’ on Monday cancelled

Fin24 reports that a majority of trade unions have signed the public sector wage agreement, meaning that it will be implemented.  The Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) issued a statement on Friday saying that 65.74% of trade unions agreed to salary adjustments and improvements in conditions of service in the sector for three years, from 2018/19 to 2020/21.  A majority of 50%+1 employee agreement was required to implement the deal.  The fact that a majority of unions have signed means that the wage deal will be extended to all public servants.  The unions which signed were Sadtu, Nehawu, Popcru, Naptosa, Sama, Pawusa, Sasawu, Denosa and Saou.  The deal will see public servants getting raises of 6%-7% for the year to the end of March 2019 and by as much as one percentage point more than the consumer inflation rate for the following two years.  The planned “day of rage” or protest and strike action on Monday by the Public Servants Association (PSA) would no longer take place, the union said in a statement.  The PSA’s Ivan Fredericks said that they still believed it was a “negative deal”, but that going forward with a nationwide strike on Monday by over 230,000 of its members would now be a “futile exercise”.  He added:  “We lost the fight for financial emancipation of public servants, but the battle has just begun.”  The strike action planned in respect of Sassa (the South African Social Service Agency) would, however, still proceed as planned, Fredericks indicated.

Read this report in fall at Fin24. Read too, PSA cancels 'day of rage' but vows to continue fight for 'financial emancipation', at Fin24. And also, After 10 months of talks, government and workers agree to three-year wage deal, at BusinessLive

Public sector wage hikes exceed government’s budget by R30bn

News24 reports that government has welcomed the signing of a three-year multi-term public sector wage agreement, even though it exceeded the 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).  The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) confirmed in a statement that the 2018 salary agreement exceeded the R110bn provision for salary adjustments for the period from 2018/19 to 2020/21 made in the 2018 MTEF by R30bn.  “This then calls for cost containment measures to ensure that the wage bill remains within the existing compensation ceilings,” the DPSA observed.  The Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) last week reported that 65.74% of trade unions covered had agreed to salary adjustments and improvements on conditions of service in the sector for three years.  The country's bulging public wage bill has been a major source of challenge raised by international lenders and rating agencies.  “As government we are glad that we have reached another multi-term agreement,” said Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo, adding that the agreement “proves that it is possible for both parties to reach an amicable agreement that puts the stability of the country and service delivery first.”

Read this report by Sibongile Khumalo in full at Fin24


LOOMING ESKOM STRIKE

Total shutdown of Eskom looms amid wage negotiations deadlock

ANA reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Thursday called for a total shutdown of state-owned power utility Eskom, following a collapse in wage negotiations.  Eskom workers are demanding a 15% wage increase across the board in a one-year agreement, a R2,000 increase in the housing allowance; the employer to pay 80% of the medical aid contributions; a ban of labour brokers; paid maternity leave of six months; and a one-month paid paternity leave.  Paris Mashego, the NUM's energy sector coordinator, said that the management decisions that led to the organisation's financial woes should not be the worker's burden, and that Eskom's zero percent wage offer was yet another imprudent decision aiming at frustrating the workers.  Mashego added:  "The NUM has no option but to react harshly and firm to this nonsensical offer by making sure that our anger is felt right up to the bone marrow of Eskom.  A total shutdown is looming."

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly. Read the NUM’s press statement in this regard at Cosatu News

As Eskom drags Nersa to court over tariffs, unions to meet on Monday to iron out strike details

BL Premium reports that Eskom has dragged the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to court over the regulator’s tariff decision and is toughing it out against employees with a wage freeze, despite the growing prospect of a strike.  At present, it costs the company more to produce electricity than the regulator allows it to recoup from tariffs, while the state-owned power utility is also sitting with a huge debt burden.  On Thursday, Eskom filed court papers to request a review of the 5% price increase Nersa granted it earlier in 2018.  Eskom’s new management, headed by CEO Phakamani Hadebe, must cut costs, increase revenue and restructure debt.  But steps to do so — such as its wage freeze — have angered trade unions.  They are set to embark on an illegal strike, with a meeting between unions to iron out details scheduled for Monday.  Eskom workers are classified as essential services and cannot legally strike.  A third round of wage talks ended late on Thursday in deadlock, with the National Union of Metalworkers SA and the National Union of Mineworkers walking out, vowing a "total shutdown".  The majority union at Eskom, the NUM, said the power utility was using the essential services provision as an excuse.  Numsa said Eskom had treated labour in a "hostile way".  Solidarity’s Deon Reyneke said the union would not encourage its members to go on strike as this would be illegal.  Solidarity would, however, participate in the meeting on Monday with the other unions at Eskom.

Read this report by Natasha Marrian & Sikonathi Mantshantsha in full at BL Premium (paywall access). Read too, Numsa walks out of wage negotiations with Eskom, at Business Report. And also, Numsa walks out of Eskom wage talks, joins NUM in call for strike, at The Citizen


OTHER INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / WAGE DISPUTES

Municipal wage talks stall as Samwu declares a dispute

BusinessLive reports that wage negotiations at the SA Local Government Bargaining Council have reached a deadlock after the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) formally declared a dispute on Thursday.  This followed the union’s rejection of a facilitator’s proposal of a three-year deal with a 7% across the board increase in the first year (effective from 1 July 2018) and consumer inflation (CPI) plus 1.5% in the second year and a further CPI plus 1.25% in the third year.  The housing allowance and the minimum wage would be increased by 7%.  The facilitator’s proposal was accepted by the employers represented by the SA Local Government Association (Salga) as well as the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu).  All negotiations have been suspended, including the wage curve negotiations.  Salga said that given Samwu’s rejection, it had now reverted its position of a 6.6% increase as it was what the municipalities had initially mandated it to present.  In a statement, Samwu indicated that it had reverted to its initial demands, which encompassed a single year agreement; a 15% salary increase across the board or R3,155 (whichever was greater); a R10,000 minimum wage for the sector; and an across the board R2,000 housing allowance.

Read this report by Claudi Mailovich in full at BusinessLive. Read Samwu’s press statement at Samwu News

Sundays River Valley citrus strike ends as farmers agree to R20 an hour

GroundUp reports that workers in the Sundays River Valley in the Eastern Cape called off their strike on Thursday after reaching an agreement with their employers.  The strike started last week with workers, most of whom were earning R16,80 an hour, demanding a minimum wage of R20 an hour.  Thursday’s agreement was facilitated by the Eastern Cape MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reforms, Xolile Nqatha.  On Thursday, the Sunday’s River Valley Citrus Producers Forum agreed to pay a minimum wage of R20 per hour‚ for two years‚ effective from 7 June‚ 2018.  Chairman of the forum, Hannes de Waal, said the forum regretted the violence and damage to the farms, but looked forward to “welcoming all our workers back to the farms tomorrow‚ Friday‚ 8 June.”  He noted that the new statutory minimum wage for farm workers - to be effective soon - was R18 an hour but citrus workers had demanded the national minimum hourly wage of R20 recently passed by Parliament.  On Friday last week, police arrested seven people in Kirkwood.  On Tuesday night protesters burned three tractors and a farm store‚ also in Kirkwood.  Police have arrested three suspects.

Read this report by Joseph Chirume in full at GroundUp

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Sassa strike won’t disrupt grants payouts, says Public Servants Association (PSA), at Mail & Guardian


PROTESTS / MARCHES / CAMPAIGNS

SAHRC announces inquiry into staff protests at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital

News24 reports that the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will this week be convening an inquiry into the recent demonstrations and protests at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.  The commission's provincial manager Buang Jones said the inquiry would look into the impact the protests had on patients, and also find out whether the damage caused was "reasonably foreseeable and preventable".  Jones added:  "We also want to look into the role that was played by the unions that took part in the protest."  The SAHRC visited the hospital on Thursday for a site inspection following several reports alleging there was a shortage of radiation oncologists in the hospital's oncology ward.  Over a week a week ago, hospital equipment was damaged and operations were disrupted when staff protested, claiming they hadn't been paid bonuses owed to them for the 2016-17 financial year.

Read this report in full at News24


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Volunteer medics robbed at gunpoint in Cape Town on Saturday

News24 reports that a group of volunteer paramedics were robbed at gun and knife point in the early hours of Saturday morning while attending to patients in Du Noon, Cape Town.  The incident happened when crews in two vehicles were assisting in the area.  Community Medics said in a statement:  "[They] had their personal valuables and some of our equipment stolen.  We are glad they are physically unharmed."  Indicating that trauma counselling was being arranged, it went on to state:  "One of our response vehicles was damaged when a brick was thrown through the window and broke the window and damaged the door and locking mechanism on the other door."  The family of the patients, tried to assist – putting their own lives in danger.  They were not harmed.  Cape Town paramedics have been soft targets for criminals over the past 18 months, with the number of incidents spiking in the second half of 2017.

Read this report in full at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Cash-in-transit heists a worry for Sassa as it considers cash payments, at BusinessLive
  • 'Prayer keeps me going', says cash-in-transit guard, at News24
  • Busbestuurder kritiek ná ses skote toe hy die Mitchells Plain depot wou binnegaan, at Maroela Media
  • Officers robbed at knifepoint at Alberton police station, at JacarandaFM


MINING LABOUR

Miner killed in fall of ground incident at Harmony's Bambanani mine

Mining Weekly reports that an employee has been killed in a fall-of-ground incident at Harmony Gold's Bambanani mine, in the Free State.  An investigation into the accident, which happened on Friday morning, is under way.

This short report is at Mining Weekly

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Angry community chokes Eskom coal supply from Exxaro coal mine in Mpumalanga, at Fin24


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Staff rationalisation at SAA a ‘necessity’, CEO tells MPs

BusinessLive reports that SA Airways (SAA) CEO Vuyani Jarana said in Parliament on Thursday that staff rationalisation at the state-owned carrier was a necessity.  He also said during a briefing to Parliament’s finance committee on SAA’s fourth-quarter results for 2017-18 that the airline had been talking consistently with trade unions on the need for SAA to reorganise itself.  However, he explained that the decision on rationalisation would depend on the finalisation of a clear operational structure that would determine the staff numbers required.  Jarana said the priority over the past six months had been to ensure job preservation through outsourcing and contracting out some of SAA’s staff to other airlines “to soften the blow”.  Jarana told the committee he had “been doing roadshows to major airlines, enticing them to actually contract our pilots so that when we grow again we can go and fetch them”.  SAA chairman Johannes Magwaza said the SAA board was “far down the line” in its readiness to engage with Treasury through the oversight committee on the different modalities in terms of which a strategic equity partner could be introduced.  Jarana was of the view that the government as shareholder would make pronouncements “soon” on a roadmap for the introduction of strategic equity partners.

Read this informative report by Linda Ensor in full at BusinessLive. Read too, SAA chief executive dismisses calls for business rescue, at The Citizen

SAA spending heavily on executives and consultants despite needing bail-out

BusinessLive reports that just days after getting a R5bn bail-out from National Treasury‚ it has been reported that South African Airways (SAA) is spending millions on executives and consulting firms.  Recently appointed CEO Vuyani Jarana said increased spending was needed to address a skills shortage at the airline‚ according to a report in the Mail & Guardian on Friday.  The newspaper reported that there had been seven "expensive new appointments"‚ some executive positions had been upgraded and that R25m was being paid to Deutsche Bank to help restructure the airline’s debt.  "This is at a time when the airline‚ which reported losses of R5.6bn in the 2016-17 financial year‚ has shed a staggering R3.8bn in revenue by cutting several domestic and international routes‚ and is paying for at least 50 pilots and cabin crew who have no work to do‚" the M&G reported.  Some of the staff were reportedly being paid salaries of between R4.2m and R6m a year.  SAA‚ through spokesman spokesperson Tlali Tlali‚ said the airline would not comment on confidential employee remuneration and defended the use of consultants‚ saying the airline did not have the capacity to restructure its R9.2bn debt.

Read this report in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Broke SAA goes on spending spree, at Mail & Guardian. And also, Jarana defends decision to spend big money on hiring new executives, at EWN

Eastern Cape vehicle parts supplier to close down with loss of over 150 jobs

City Press reports that another components supplier is closing down in the Eastern Cape, leaving more than 150 workers jobless as its contract with Volkswagen SA (VWSA) has been terminated.  Stateline Pressed Metal, which has branches in Port Elizabeth and Queenstown, used to supply Polo components to VWSA.  After seeing Stateline had financial problems and that it might not continue supplying, VWSA decided to terminate the contract and look elsewhere for the parts.  The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) confirmed last week that so-called section 189 retrenchments notices had already been issued to Stateline’s employees.  VWSA spokesperson Matt Gennrich said:  “Stateline is in effect bankrupt, and while we may assist in the short term, there is no long-term assistance available or additional business from VWSA.”  Numsa accused VWSA of terminating the Stateline contract to instead procure goods from a Pretoria-based German manufacturer, but Gennrich denied this.

Read this report by Max Matavire in full at Fin24


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS / UNFAIR LABOUR PRACTICES

Motsoeneng told to pay up unfair dismissal legal fees‚ but he’ll go to the ConCourt first

Timeslive reports that former SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s application for leave to appeal against a decision that he must personally pay for the legal costs associated with a ban on coverage of protest action has been dismissed with costs.  Trade union Solidarity said it received confirmation from the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on Tuesday that Motsoeneng’s appeal had been dismissed.  But Motsoeneng said on Thursday:  “The only court is the Constitutional Court.  My lawyers are preparing an application to the Constitutional Court.  The SCA did not rule on the merits of the case.”  In his application to the SCA, Motsoeneng sought to appeal against a Labour Court decision that ordered him and the SABC’s former acting group executive for news and current affairs Simon Tebele to pay the legal costs of seven SABC journalists dismissed last year as a result of Motsoeneng’s controversial ban on the broadcasting of protest actions.  This ban resulted in eight journalists - the so-called SABC 8 - being unlawfully fired at the time.  Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann commented:  “In view of this confirmation by the Supreme Court of Appeal‚ this court will not offer him any further recourse.  This is vindication that the SABC 8 had been fired unlawfully and that Motsoeneng’s actions were unlawful and wrongful.”

Read this report by Ernest Mabuza in full at Timeslive. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Ex-acting national police commissioner Phahlane not off the hook despite withdrawal of charges

BusinessLive reports that former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane is not off the hook despite the withdrawal of fraud and corruption charges against him on Thursday.  The National Prosecution Authority (NPA) said on Thursday the setting aside of the charges was not an acquittal but a provisional withdrawal pending completion of investigations.  The prosecution withdrew the charges against Phahlane; his wife, Beauty, and used-car dealership owner Durandt Snyman after the specialised commercial crime court refused to grant a three-month postponement for further investigation.  NPA spokeswoman in Gauteng Phindi Mjonondwana said they had withdrawn the case to complete the investigation.  "This does not mean [the trio are] off the hook.  Once the investigations are complete, we will re-enrol the case," she indicated.  The Phahlanes were facing six counts of fraud and corruption for allegedly accepting gratifications from Snyman, who allegedly helped forensic supply companies doing business with the police to pay kickbacks to Phahlane and his wife, a brigadier in the police service.

Read this report by Sipho Mabena in full at BusinessLive


OTHER REPORTS

Labour Court judge faces misconduct probe over conduct in case involving ex-Sasol employee

Mail & Guardian reports that the appeal panel of the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) has ordered a probe into the behaviour of a Labour Court judge accused of misconduct in his handling of a dispute.  Former Sasol employee Andile Maseko lodged a complaint against Judge Anton Steenkamp, accusing him of ignoring written submissions in his labour dispute with Sasol, allegedly lying about not receiving the documents and reaching an unfair judgment in favour of the company.  This arose out of a protracted alleged unfair dismissal dispute between Maseko and Sasol.  Maseko’s application in court was dismissed by Steenkamp, who ordered that Maseko could not litigate further against the company until he had satisfied the costs orders against him in his previous cases against the company.  Steenkamp also said in his judgment that he had not received further written submissions from Maseko and his lawyers, a claim the disgruntled ex-employee has denied.  The JCC’s appeal panel decided that there should be an inquiry into Steenkamp’s conduct under section 17 of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Act, which refers to complaints of conduct that — if proved to be true — would be “serious” but “nonimpeachable”.  “The charge that a judge is lying is a serious one, which, if established, may have far-reaching consequences,” said the panel.  It also drew attention to the fact that Steenkamp had made a follow-up inquiry with Sasol’s lawyers before reaching his judgment, asking them if they had received submissions from Maseko’s representatives, but did not reach out to Maseko’s legal team to ask where the submissions were.

Read more of this M&G report by Dineo Bendile at SA Labour News

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page