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
Tuesday, 12 June 2018.


TOP STORY – ESKOM WAGE DISPUTE

No shutdown yet for Eskom as unions take the legal route

Mail & Guardian reports that at a joint press conference on Tuesday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said, despite previous reports, the unions would only go on strike if the law permitted it.  Although it was reported that the two trade unions would hold a one-day shutdown at Eskom on Thursday over 0% salary increases, many workers are restricted from striking as they are deemed to render essential services.  Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said workers would be picketing during lunchtime at Eskom power stations around the country, with a mass demonstration at MegaWatt Park to take place on Thursday at lunch.  Jim responded to questions of whether or not the demonstrations would mean the “lights will go off” by simply saying:  “If the lights switch off, it will be because workers are exercising their protest in rejection of the 0% offer.”  He said the unions, including Solidarity, were taking the legal route by declaring a dispute of interest in order to put an end to the wage negotiation deadlock.  “We’ll exhaust all options legally before choosing to go on strike,” Jim emphasised.  Eskom’s 0% wage increase offer comes amid the state-owned entity’s implementation of austerity measures.

Read this informative report by Sarah Smit in full at Mail & Guardian

Eskom to activate contingency measures after strike threat from NUM and Numsa

Fin24 reports that, while sympathising with employees who have “worked very hard to help keep the lights on during the past financial year” but would not get salary increases, Eskom has pointed out that they were not allowed to participate in strikes.  On Monday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said they would hold a hold a one-day shutdown at Eskom on Thursday to protest against 0% salary increases.  The state-owned power utility said that, should the industrial action take place, it would activate contingency measures to ensure security of power supply.  It did not say what these measures were.  "Eskom has noted the statements made by the trade unions about their intentions to embark on an industrial action this Thursday.  Eskom has been designated as an essential service provider, and therefore our employees are reminded that they are not allowed to participate in strike actions," the utility said.

Read this report by Jan Cronje in full at Fin24

Solidarity declares dispute with Eskom over 0% wage offer

Engineering News reports that trade union Solidarity on Monday declared a dispute with state-owned power utility Eskom.  Solidarity, as well as fellow unions Numsa and NUM, are extremely dissatisfied with Eskom’s offer of a 0% wage increase.  The union intends to hand over memorandums at several Eskom workplaces in the coming week.  Solidarity deputy general secretary Deon Reyneke said they planned to conduct their protest actions in such a way as to legally subject Eskom to maximum pressure without disrupting the nation’s power grid and the economy.  “However, employees cannot be expected to fund Eskom’s poor financial management, corruption and the plundering of the [controversial] Guptas and their cronies through a 0% wage increase,” he warned.  Solidarity said it was of the view that Eskom had been reckless in the way it negotiated and it should come up with a new offer for employees, without delays.

A short report is at Engineering News. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News


OTHER INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

PSA puts Sassa strike planned for Wednesday on hold for now

The Citizen reports that a planned strike by employees of the South African Security Service Agency (Sassa) affiliated to the Public Servants Association (PSA), scheduled to start on Wednesday, has been put on hold.  This because the union has another meeting with the social development minister on Thursday.  The PSA’s Leon Gilbert said the outcome of the union’s meeting with Minister Susan Shabangu on Monday, at which they stated their position, had been positive.  Thursday’s meeting with her would focus on the way forward.  The public sector wage agreement signed on Friday did not apply to Sassa as it was an agency of government that did not fall under the public service.  Gilbert said Sassa staff demands included 15% wage increases for levels five to eight, 13% for levels nine to 12, more choice in medical aid schemes, a housing allowance increase of R2,500 and that Sassa offices close over the Christmas and New Year period.  Gilbert explained that the strike would not be called off as an official notice had already been issued, which meant that Sassa employees who did not go to work would be protected by the notice.  People collecting their grant payments would not be affected, but those registering for grants would likely face some challenges.

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


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Analysts reckon government came out unscathed from public sector wage deal

Business Report writes that according to analysts, the government came out unscathed in the latest round of public sector wage negotiations.  Capital Economics Africa economist John Ashbourne said the above-inflation salary increments would not have implications for the economy.  He explained:  “It is an above-inflation raise, albeit a small one.  But the February 2018 Budget assumed a 7% increase in staff costs, so this deal is essentially in line with the government’s own forecast.  This means that there won’t be a need to adjust spending plans elsewhere to make the budget add up.”  The 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) covering the period from 2018/19 to 2020/21 made a provision of R110 billion for salary adjustments and improvements in other conditions of service for employees.  Welcoming the wage deal, Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo warned that it exceeded the amount envisioned in the MTEF period by R30bn.  Adrian Saville of Cannon Asset Managers noted that SA’s public sector was bloated relative to other middle-income countries, with well-below-average service outcomes.  He added:  “South Africa’s public sector wages have run well ahead of inflation and also well ahead of the private sector since 2014, which adds to inflationary pressure in the economy and further aggravates the already-stressed fiscus.  Perhaps the silver lining is that the settlement figure of 7% in the first year has been budgeted.”

Read this report by Kabelo Khumalo in full at Business Report


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Teacher abuse escalating, bemoans Sadtu over attack by pupils captured on video

Timeslive reports that as a video surfaced showing pupils attack a teacher, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) condemned violence at schools.  In the video‚ two pupils are seen repeatedly punching and kicking a teacher to the ground while she screams.  The teacher can be seen trying to fight back‚ but the two girls overpower her.  The school has yet to be identified, but it is believed to be in Limpopo.  Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said the incident was part of a worrying trend and went on to say:  “Such incidents seem to be escalating at a rapid pace.  We condemn the incident.  The law should take its course.”  Cembi appealed to parents to play a more active role by instilling discipline in their children.  She indicated that Sadtu would look into hosting seminars on violence for school principals.  Early this year‚ the Education for Social Justice Foundation expressed outrage at violence directed at teachers.  The foundation called for the installation of cameras in all classrooms to deal with “ill disciplined” pupils.

Read this report by Nomahlubi Jordaan in full at Timeslive. See too, Three different videos show pupils in violent physical confrontations with educators, at The Citizen

Cash-in-transit guards demand limits on the amount of cash carried, as well as bigger guns

BusinessLive reports that the Johannesburg city centre was brought to a standstill on Tuesday as thousands of workers gathered to call for the safety of cash-in-transit security guards.  The march‚ which was organised by the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa)‚ was held to demand that guards be given more weapons to protect themselves against heavily armed robbers.  In just 2018, there have been about 160 heists.  Protesters delivered a memorandum at the Gauteng legislature.  Protest leader Mdumiseni Mabaso urged the police to be more visible and called for firearm regulations to be amended to allow guards to carry higher-calibre weapons.  He also urged the governor of the Reserve Bank to ensure that limits were placed on the amounts of cash transported at one time in each vehicle.  The memorandum was received by Sonnyboy Mmatli on behalf of safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane.  He committed to meeting various stakeholders to address the workers’ grievances within 14 working days.

Read this report by Nonkululeko Njilo in full at BusinessLive. See too, Thousands descend on Joburg CBD in protest over cash-in-transit heists, at EWN. And also, Cash in transit security guards protest, traffic affected, at eNCA

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • 'Ramaphosa must protect us‚' says traumatised cash-in-transit guard, at Timeslive


MINING LABOUR

Four miners found dead on Monday at Sibanye-Stillwater shaft, one reportedly still missing

BusinessLive reports that four mineworkers were found dead at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof Ikamva shaft after they went missing on Monday.  According to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), another worker is still missing in what was reported to be a “gassing” incident.  National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said on Monday night that the union was angry and concerned at the rate at which mining incidents were happening at Sibanye-Stillwater.  “It seems that disasters have become the order of the day at Sibanye-Stillwater and we are highly disturbed and angered by this as this company is leading the pack in terms of fatalities and the number of deaths per mine,” he stated.  The minister at the department of mineral resources and its inspectorate must now act on this employer or bear the might of NUM, the union’s health and safety chairman Peter Bailey said.  Amcu indicated:  “This brings the total number of deaths at the operations of Sibanye-Stillwater this year‚ to a shocking total of 19.  The union again calls for the urgent intervention of the president to address this tragic state of affairs.”  Amcu wants to see the Mine Health and Safety Act amended to give more power to workers and trade unions to address safety issues.

Read this report in full at BusinessLive. Read too, NUM ‘angry, concerned’ about mineworkers’ deaths at Sibanye, at The Citizen. And also, Death toll at abandoned section of Sibanye-Stillwater mine rises to four, at News24

Sibanye-Stillwater investigating how deceased miners ended up in abandoned shaft

EWN reports that Sibanye-Stillwater management is hopeful that retrieval operations at its Ikamva shaft will come to an end soon.  The search for a fifth miner was still underway at midday on Tuesday after the bodies of three other employees were retrieved from the shaft overnight.  A fourth miner was located and declared deceased in the early hours of Tuesday morning.  The five miners entered the abandoned shaft with poor ventilation on Monday and are said to have died from heat exhaustion.  Mine management declared that a process to retrieve the body of the fourth miner was underway.  Spokesperson Thabsile Phumo advised that an investigation was underway to determine how the miners ended up in the shaft as it was abandoned and not operational.  At least 18 people have died at the precious metals producer’s mines this year, including seven who were trapped underground at the Masakhane mine last month.

A short report by Kgomotso Modise at EWN. Read too, Mantashe condemns mineworkers’ deaths at Sibanye, at The Citizen

Following four deaths, Sibanye suspends operations at Kloof shaft for a day of mourning

ANA reports that Sibanye-Stillwater said on Tuesday it had suspended mining operations at its Kloof Ikamva shaft for a day of mourning after four mineworkers died underground.  The precious metal producer on Tuesday located the body of a fourth mineworker killed at the shaft near Westonaria, following a suspected gas and heat incident.  Three mineworkers died on Monday.  Sibanye said the search for a fifth employee continued and it would issue further updates when more information became available.  It said specialised proto teams had been working through the night to locate and retrieve the employee, but it was uncertain how long the process would take.  A thorough investigation would be undertaken into the incident, the company added.  Kloof mine is a shallow to ultra-deep level gold mine consisting of five producing shaft complexes

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly. Read too, Questions get louder as 2018 mining death toll rises, at Timeslive

Amcu warns gold mining industry in advance of wage negotiations

Business Report writes that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has warned that the gold mining industry could be brought to its knees if a solution is not reached during the upcoming wage negotiations.  The union this week extended its demand for a R12,500 monthly minimum wage to gold producers, including Harmony Gold, Sibanye-Stillwater and AngloGold Ashanti (AGA), charging that this was a living wage.  The union is also seeking increases in various benefits, including severance pay, transport costs, longer maternity leave and a five-day work week instead of the shift system.  Amcu embarked on a five-month strike in the platinum belt in 2012 in support of its demand for a minimum wage of R12,500 in that sector.  AGA spokesperson Chris Nthite commented:  “The negotiations will get under way.  We will respond in due course with our own offer.  There will be intense negotiations.”  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the biggest union in the sector, is reportedly demanding a two-year agreement, with entry-level underground pay of R10,500 a month.  Memory Johnstone, speaking on behalf of the Minerals Council SA (formerly known as the Chamber of Mines), said gold producers had received the demands of all the unions participating in the centralised collective bargaining forum.

Read more of this report by Luyolo Mkentane at SA Labour News

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Illegal gold, chrome mining milking the economy, says mining analyst, at The Citizen


EMPLOYEE SHARE SCHEMES

R1.1-billion windfall for employees as Vodacom unveils biggest telecoms BEE deal yet

BusinessLive reports that Vodacom is to spend about R1.1bn on an employee share ownership scheme as part of its R17.5bn broad-based black economic empowerment (BEE) deal.  In what will be the biggest BEE deal in the telecommunications sector, the scheme will benefit 4,637 permanent employees in SA.  "The employee share scheme effectively is for all employees, but black employees and [especially] black female employees will obviously get the lion’s share," Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub indicated.  The scheme was targeted more towards general staff as opposed to management, he said.  It would be geared to give staff effective exposure to the group’s shares of R3.5bn — an average of nearly R755,000 per qualifying staff member.  Meanwhile, the group’s new BEE deal, which was announced on Monday, will replace the scheme that was launched in 2008 and which expires in October 2018.  If approved, the transaction will pool all of Vodacom’s BEE shareholders under a single entity, JSE-listed YeboYethu, and will see existing black shareholders exchanging their shares in Vodacom’s South African business for Vodacom Group stock, giving them exposure to other markets.  The transaction would raise the group’s black ownership from 17% to 20%, Joosub said.

Read this report by Nick Hedley in full at BusinessLive


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

New CEO at SAA maps out a punishing austerity plan, with layoffs ‘unavoidable’

BusinessLive reports that six months into the job of running loss-making SA Airways (SAA), CEO Vuyani Jarana has mapped out a punishing austerity plan to turn the national carrier around.  He indicated that layoffs and other cuts were unavoidable in the context of a draining cost-to-income ratio of 108%.  "SAA cannot carry the same workforce, whether it is pilots, cabin crew or administration.  We have to make some tough decisions to save the airline.  There cannot be sacred cows when it comes to SAA," he said.  Jarana declined to put a number to the job losses, but two knowledgeable sources said SAA was likely to cut between 1,000 and 1,500 people via a combination of layoffs and voluntary redundancies to bring its employee-per-aircraft ratio in line with regional competitors.  The numbers apparently include about 300 flight attendants.  Some of the carrier’s 700 pilots, encouraged to look for jobs elsewhere, have drafted their own severance pay offer to SAA, a source said.  On Monday, SAA catering subsidiary Air Chefs announced it planned to retrench 118 workers in what could be the start of a more profound restructure of the airline’s entire workforce.  The National Union of Metalworkers of SA said it would oppose the cuts.

Read this report by Linda Ensor and Reuters in full at BusinessLive

We haven't yet decided on number of Air Chefs layoffs, says SAA

Fin24 reports that Air Chefs, the catering arm of South African Airways (SAA), has launched a consultation process with unions in terms of the Labour Relations Act that might lead to job losses.  This comes as the airline embarks on its latest turnaround strategy.  SAA spokesperson Tlali Tali said Air Chefs had not yet made a decision on how many workers would be laid off and that the consultation process would allow the stakeholders to “explore avenues” to “avert laying off staff”.  The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) indicated in a statement that Air Chefs had plans to retrench 118 workers out of a total workforce of 1,200.  But, Numsa wants retrenchments to take place within the SAA Group, the parent company of Air Chefs, and not on a decentralised basis.  According to Tlali, as part of implementing its turnaround strategy “employee ratios” at SAA were under consideration.  The CCMA is set to facilitate consultation between Air Chefs and unions on 19 June.

Read this report by Lameez Omarjee in full at Fin24


CORRUPTION / CRIME

Three Germiston Flying Squad officers arrested for kidnapping‚ hijacking and armed robbery

Timeslive reports that three Germiston Flying Squad police officers are in custody after allegedly kidnapping‚ hijacking and robbing drivers of two vehicles in Krugersdorp West on Saturday.  They allegedly committed the crime on the Rustenburg road at about midday.  Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the suspects had stopped the truck driver and his escort and went on to relate:  "The driver of an escort vehicle‚ a 1400 van‚ was forced out of his vehicle and ordered into a police vehicle.  One of the police officers also jumped into the truck and forced the driver to sit on the passenger seat.  The victims were driven into an open veld and forced to lie on the ground while firearms were pointed at them.  They were also robbed of a substantial amount of money before the officers drove away."  After a case was opened‚ information was followed up and the police officers were arrested.  A truck and a bakkie were later recovered.  The trio appeared in the Krugersdorp Magistrates Court on charges of armed robbery‚ kidnapping and hijacking and will remain in custody until their bail application on 14 June.

Read this report by Kgaugelo Masweneng in full at Timeslive

 


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