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, 15 June 2018.


TOP STORY – YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

Saftu laments that SA youth have little to celebrate

The Citizen reports that according to the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), young people had little to celebrate on Youth Day on Saturday, considering they still have many of the same problems as the youth in 1976.  Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said:  “The youth are still left with an economic crisis, high levels of unemployment and poverty, a dysfunctional education system and communities that are terrorised by criminal gangs and drug lords.”  He went on to paint a dire picture of high unemployment for the youth of today, quoting the latest figures from Statistics SA indicating an unemployment rate of 38.2% in the first quarter of this year among young people aged 15 to 34.  This means more than one in every three young people in the labour market is jobless.  “Worse still, the report shows that some of these young people are discouraged with the labour market and they are also not building on their skills base through education and training.  As a result, of the 10.3 million people aged 15 to 24, 32,4% (approximately 3.3 million) were not in employment, education or training and were thus disengaged from the labour market and not playing a part in the economy,” Vavi pointed out.  Saftu has invited all working class formations, civil society organisations, youth and unemployed workers to a Working Class Summit on 21 and 22 July.

Read this report by Eric Naki in full at The Citizen. Read Saftu’s press statement in this regard at Saftu News

Ramaphosa wants pathways created to get young people into work

ANA reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday that it was the shared responsibility of government, business, labour and civil society to develop pathways for young people into work.  Addressing a Youth Day event in Soweto, Ramaphosa noted that “as we seek to build a new, inclusive South Africa, we look to the energy and creativity of youth.  Young people are catalysts of social change.”  Saying that the current generation of youth had chosen as its mission the attainment of economic freedom, Ramaphosa went on to point out that youth continued to bear the brunt of unemployment, poverty, and inequality and remained the hardest hit by disease, violent crime, drug abuse, and underdevelopment.  “We understand the frustration of young people who cannot find jobs, who do not have the skills and experience employers are looking for, and are unable to find the support they need to start their own businesses.  Our shared responsibility, as government, business, labour and civil society, is to develop pathways for young people into work.  It is this task to which we should be directing all our efforts and all our energies,” Ramaphosa said.  He also noted that progress was being made in many areas.

Read this report in full at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Youth Day: Grown-ups not doing a good job of creating jobs, at Business Report
  • eThekwini will be employing more young people, at SABC News
  • Terry Bell’s Inside Labour: The need for a national conversation about youth, at Fin24


ESKOM WAGE DIPSUTE

Eskom forced to start load shedding as protests over 0% wage increase hit home

BusinessLive reports that Eskom started load shedding for the first time in years on Thursday night due to constraints to supply as a result of “acts of sabotage and intimidation” related to the labour unrest.”  It activated stage one of the load-shedding exercise to prevent the national grid from total collapse.  At Thursday’s once-off lunch-time picket at Eskom’s head office, hundreds of workers demonstrated their unhappiness with the firm’s 0% wage increase offer.  Meantime, organised labour at the utility will be meeting with its board “soon” over failed wage negotiations.  National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) president Andrew Chirwa said the board had welcomed their request for a meeting to try and unlock the impasse that led to disruptions at various power stations.  This week, Numsa and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said a direct engagement with the board was necessary because that was where the Eskom management got its mandate of a 0% wage increase offer, which had angered workers.  A date for the meeting had not yet been set.  Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said the utility and its board were willing to continue engagements with unions.  

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Eskom, workers’ strike plunge SA into darkness, at The Citizen

Eskom’s 0% wage increase offer ‘off the table’, says Gordhan

BusinessLive reports that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has announced that Eskom has taken its contentious 0% wage increase offer off the negotiation table.  The stalemate over the offer collapsed wage negotiations at the state-owned power utility Eskom and led to protests and pickets on Thursday.  Wage negotiations between Eskom and its labour unions, namely Solidarity, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), will resume following Gordhan’s meeting with the parties and the Eskom board on Friday.  NUM and Numsa members are demanding 15% wage increases, while Solidarity members are demanding 9%.  Labour has lodged disputes at the CCMA, steps that could open the way for the possibility of strike action.  While Eskom employees are classed as essential services and cannot strike, the unions said they were intending on challenging the provision at the CCMA until a strike certificate was granted.  On Friday Eskom obtained a court interdict against all forms of industrial action, including acts of sabotage and intimidation, against the unions and their members.  Gordhan said the parties agreed that operations would be normalised “immediately” and that production would be resumed to secure electricity supply.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Eskom’s 0% wage offer off the table after Gordhan’s intervention, at EWN

Unions and Eskom to resume wage negotiations on Tuesday, says Numsa

ANA reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said on Saturday that government and Eskom unions have agreed that wage negotiations be resumed with immediate effect and the zero percent increase proposed by the power utility was “off the table”.  Numsa met Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Friday.  Also present at the meeting were the two other unions represented at Eskom, namely the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity, as well as members of the Eskom board and management.  Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim indicated:  “We agreed that without demobilising we shall normalise the situation and give negotiations a chance which will resume this coming Tuesday, [and] to engage in key issues that impact on the future sustainability of Eskom such as coal costs, the impact of policy including IPPs [independent power producers], the cost of primary coal, the bloated top executive structure of Eskom management which is costly, and the building of trustworthy relationships between the parties as part of the process post-negotiations.”  Numsa said it viewed the agreed process of engagement as necessary in resolving the dispute between the unions and Eskom management, and laying the grounds for the negotiations to continue.

Read this report in full at The Citizen

‘Strike’ is a convenient excuse, Eskom has run out of coal, says expert

The Citizen reports that according to an electricity expert, blaming striking workers was a convenient excuse power utility Eskom was using to mask the power utility’s incompetence and inability to ensure a reliable supply.  Ted Blom, a partner at Mining & Energy Advisors and Energy Expert Coalition, is not buying Eskom’s excuse for the return of load shedding.  After having warned for months that the utility was on the verge of collapse, he said the current strike was “a convenient cover for all the rubbish that has been going on at Eskom”.  Yet, according to spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe, Eskom has had to reduce the strain on the national electricity grid through load shedding, as the alternative would be a catastrophic and total blackout.  Last week, he blamed the state of affairs squarely on workers’ unions, which he accused of sabotaging power stations and of criminal conduct.  On Friday, Eskom obtained a court interdict prohibiting the intimidation of workers and contractors who were not part of the wage protests.  But, Blom said he had been in contact with unions and they assured him they were committed to “blockage of labour, rather than damage”.  The unions also claimed they had not engaged in the sabotage Eskom has accused them of.  He pointed out that the strike conveniently coincided with coal running out, as Eskom had lied about having at least 20 days’ supply stockpiled at all stations.

Read this report by Earl Coetzee in full at The Citizen. Read too, Eskom obtains court interdict against strikes at power stations, at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • A wage hike will ‘derail Eskom recovery’, at City Press
  • Eskom wage bill growth unsustainable, says Nedbank’s Mike Brown, at Moneyweb
  • Saftu says Eskom workers should not pay for management’s ‘looting’, at BusinessLive
  • Union accuses Eskom of ‘Thatcherism at its best’, at BusinessLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Services in Nelson Mandela Bay severely affected as Samwu strike intensifies

News24 reports that services in Nelson Mandela Bay have been severely affected as the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) strike action deepened on Friday.  The union gave notice of the strike on Wednesday evening.  The workers started striking on Thursday and marched on the city hall on Friday to hand over their memorandum of grievances.  They have given the municipality until Monday to respond.  The primary demand seems to relate to outstanding long service back pay of R30,000, which is apparently owed from the time when the former Uitenhage, Despatch and Port Elizabeth municipalities merged to form Nelson Mandela Bay in 2000.  Other demands include the lifting of all suspensions that have been in place for more than three months, payment of all outstanding overtime, immediately absorption of contract workers and for the municipality to stop ‘wasting taxpayers' money on legal practitioners’.  Traffic and driving licence centres, consumer care centres and refuse collection services are among services that have been affected.  Isolated incidents of intimidation have been reported.

Read this report by Derrick Spies in full at News24. Read too, Striking Nelson Mandela Bay municipal workers set out demands, at The Citizen. Watch a video entitled ‘PE workers take to the streets to demand R75m in bonuses’, at eNCA

Samwu planning protest, strike in Joburg on a date yet to be announced

The Citizen reports that the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) on Friday tabled a list of grievances to back up its plan of mobilising members to stage a protest against the Johannesburg city council.  While not announcing a date for the campaign, regional secretary Bafana Zungu said the grievances included failure to repay the union membership subscriptions dating back to last August; a dispute in the bargaining forum over employees’ performance management and effective delivery of service to communities; the use of external attorneys and consultants at exorbitant fees and less use of employed staff; failure by the city to act on corruption; and the billing crisis.  On the current Metrobus strike, Zungu said Samwu members would not participate in the labour action “but will not go to work for fear of being attacked by those on strike”.  Elaborating on the planned Samwu protest, he said the shop-stewards and the campaign committee on the ground was ready and mobilising for the strike, which would include most sectors of the municipality such as clinics, libraries, Joburg Water, municipal police and Pikitup, among others.  The City said it had received no notice of the intended strike.

Read this report by Brian Sokutu in full at The Citizen. Read Samwu’s press statement Samwu News

Nehawu threatens mass action in Limpopo over unpaid health department bonuses

BusinessLive reports that the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) is mobilising for mass action in Limpopo because the provincial health department has yet to pay staff their performance bonuses for the 2016-17 fiscal year.  At issue is R160m in benefits that Nehawu says should have been paid by July last year.  Apparently health is the only department in Limpopo that has yet to pay staff bonuses for 2016-17.  Claiming that the money was budgeted, Nehawu’s Limpopo spokesperson Jacob Adams indicated:  "We have had various meetings with management.  Last week their final offer was R90m.  We told them to go to Treasury [and ask for more]."  There was no dispute about the amount of money collectively owed to staff, he asserted.  Nehawu held a picket outside the offices of the Limpopo health department on Wednesday to draw attention to the plight of employees.

Read this report by Tamar Kahn in full at BusinessLive


GO-AHEAD FOR SOLIDARITY ESOP STRIKE AT SASOL

Solidarity gets go-ahead for legal strike at Sasol over empowerment scheme

Reuters reports that on Thursday the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) cleared Solidarity to legally strike in a dispute with Sasol over its plan to launch a share ownership scheme exclusively to black staff.  Sasol plans to sell 25% of its local operations to mainly qualifying black employees in a R21bn deal that would be vendor-financed by the company.  Solidarity called the scheme, dubbed the Sasol Khanyisa Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP), "blatant discrimination against loyal Sasol employees" as it would largely exclude white employees.  Sasol defended the scheme on Thursday, saying it was not a company benefit or compensation scheme and was “specifically designed to address the ownership component of the broad-based BEE Codes and, therefore, primarily focuses on the inclusion of black employees, as defined by the Codes."  Solidarity, which represents predominately white workers, said it would seek a mandate from members to strike.  Solidarity CE Dirk Hermann contended that this would be the first time that white employees would be able to go on a lawful strike over exclusion based on race.

Read this report by Joe Brock and Tiisetso Motsoeneng in full at BusinessLive. Read Solidarity’s press statement at Solidarity News. Read Sasol’s press statement at Politicsweb


MINING LABOUR

Mine inspector compiling report on all accidents at Sibanye-Stillwater mines this year

ANA reports that the acting chief inspector of mines is compiling a report on all accidents that have occurred at Sibanye-Stillwater mining operations since the beginning of this year.  Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday:  ""To date, Sibanye-Stillwater operations are responsible for 20 of the 45 fatalities reported since the beginning of the year.  It therefore cannot be business as usual in how the regulator attends to this situation."  Mantashe added that the matter was receiving the urgent and serious attention it deserved.  On an incident reported to the ministry concerning the Mpumalanga regional office, Mantashe said it appeared that an official allegedly issued notices under the Mine Health and Safety Act and then demanded financial compensation in return for their lifting.  The official in question had been suspended pending the conclusion of the investigation.  Mantashe also reported that the administrative operations of the Limpopo office had been suspended with immediate effect after an incident in which staff were threatened and a bullet was sent to the regional manager inside an envelope.  All administrative-related matters would be handled from the head office in Pretoria.

Read this report in full at eNCA. Read too, Miners ‘dying to breathe’ in latest Sibanye’s fatal incident, at City Press. And also, Sibanye-Stillwater CEO appalled by mine tragedies, at The Citizen

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Lives in limbo as despair seeps into mining ghost town following Bokoni layoffs, at Mail & Guardian

Postings on Mining Charter

  • New Mining Charter released, with new BEE requirements, at BusinessLive
  • New Mining Charter to credit past black empowerment deals, at Fin24
  • Mining Charter III: Better but still bad, says Peter Leon, at Politicsweb
  • July mining summit will help sharpen Mining Charter, Minister says, at Fin24


UNION NEWS / STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

Vavi ally Thobile Ntola accused of stealing R600,000 from new public sector union

Mail & Guardian writes that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) faces its first test against corruption within its ranks as it prepares to deal with one of its most popular leaders accused of illegally using R600,000 of workers’ money in two years.  The general secretary of the newly formed SA Liberated Public Sector Workers Union (Salipswu), Thobile Ntola, is being investigated by Saftu for corruption, and now faces a rebellion in the union’s ranks in Mpumalanga, North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.  The investigation was initiated after Salipswu provincial officials demanded an explanation from Ntola for the expenditure of the money between 2014 and 2016, before the public sector union held its first conference.  Claims have been made of R600,000 of missing subscription money.  Salipswu was established by Ntola in 2014, only a few months after he had been expelled as president of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) in May of that year for allegedly receiving monthly payments of up to R10,000 from one of the union’s service providers.  While fighting his expulsion from Sadtu, Ntola claimed he was being targeted over his support of the recently ousted Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.  On Monday, Vavi and Salipswu officials met in Johannesburg to discuss Ntola’s fate, but were unable to agree on what action should be taken next.  Vavi confirmed the investigation was still ongoing.

Read more of this Mail & Guardian report by Govan Whittles at SA Labour News


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Reorganisation at Absa to flatten management structure will see executive bloodbath

Bloomberg reports that Barclays Africa Group may halve the number of top jobs at its South African retail and business bank as it reorganises after its British parent cut its stake.  According to a source familiar with the matter, the Johannesburg-based lender has started talks to consult executives on a plan that might result in the reduction of top management posts in the unit to 12 from 27 to flatten the company’s management structure.  Once the consultation process has been completed, the jobs will be advertised and executives who are not selected for the posts will be considered for employment elsewhere in the company, the source indicated.  Arrie Rautenbach, the CEO of the retail and business bank, will apparently keep his job.  Barclays Africa is reverting to the Absa Group name and revamping its strategy after Barclays plc cut its controlling stake to below 15% to trim back its international operations.  CEO Maria Ramos is embarking on a second round of top management changes after announcing in April that she was refocusing the company around four main divisions — retail and business banking, corporate and investment banking, rest of Africa, and wealth management and insurance.

Read this report by Roxanne Henderson in full at BusinessLive


EMPLOYEE BENEFIT FUNDS

New PIC board to include up to three union representatives

Business Report writes the government is set to make drastic changes to the running of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) with an amendment that guarantees unions at least two places on the board.  A draft bill on the board was passed by parliament last month and is now waiting for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signature before it comes into effect.  It will make sweeping changes to ensure transparency and greater worker participation.  It provides that the finance minister must, in consultation with the cabinet, determine and appoint the 10 non-executive members and the PIC chief executive and chief financial officer as executive members.  The non-executive members must include a representative of the National Treasury, a representative of each major depositor and two or more, but not more than three, representatives of registered trade unions whose members are the majority of the members of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).  Union representatives will be selected at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) based upon their proportional composition.  The PIC, with assets of R2.1 trillion under management, manages funds on behalf of the GEPF and other statutory funds.

Read this report by Kabelo Khumalo in full at Business Report


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION / SUSPENSIONS

Gordhan lays out state's disciplinary case against suspended SARS boss Tom Moyane

Fin24 reports that Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan has laid out the state's case against suspended SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane in a 69-page affidavit.  Moyane was suspended from the agency on 19 March.  President Cyril Ramaphosa at the time accused him of overseeing a "deterioration in public confidence in the institution" and letting public finances become compromised under his watch.  The affidavit, submitted to Advocate Azhar Bham, presiding officer of Moyane's disciplinary hearing, gives the details substantiating four charges made against Moyane.  The charges are: gross mishandling of the Finance Intelligence Centre (FIC) report flagging "suspicious and unusual cash deposits and payments" made into the accounts of two SARS employees; unauthorised bonus payments; misleading Parliament; and instructing a SARS employee not to co-operate with the KPMG investigation into the SARS High Risk Unit.  Moyane's lawyer Eric Mabuza said on Thursday that they were considering the affidavit.

Read this report by Lameez Omarjee in full at Fin24

 


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