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, 19 June 2018.


TOP READ

‘Let’s hope Eskom CE learnt a few lessons on the power of unions’ from last week’s debacle

Carol Paton writes that Eskom’s capitulation on its 0% wage offer on Friday was the swiftest collapse of a bargaining position you’ll ever see.  In a matter of hours, the company, prompted by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, moved from a 0% wage increase to at least 5% by promising labour that "no-one will be left worse off than before".  Negotiations, due to start again on Tuesday, will now focus on whether this means the consumer price index or something more.  The writer notes that it was a horrible lesson for new CE Phakamani Hadebe, who, together with his board, completely misjudged the situation.  Hadebe, a finance man and banker, hasn’t had much to do with workers and trade unions before.  Nonetheless, there is no question that something drastic must be done.  However, the 0% offer was met with anger, compounded by Eskom issuing a statement that "we have plans in place and we are ready".  But, Eskom was far from ready.  Workers brought down generating units with ease.  Hadebe was shocked by the sabotage and the lengths to which people were prepared to go.  Public sentiment swung behind the workers.  The 0% offer was an insult not just to those at Eskom but to everyone who works for a wage and feels at the mercy of bosses who rake in millions of rand.  It was a week of hard knocks for Hadebe and the rest of the board.  Going into the resuscitated negotiations, Hadebe will have to change tack and take trade unions into his confidence about his strategy for Eskom.

Read this excellent article by Carol Paton in full at BL Premium (paywall access)


ESKOM WAGE DISPUTE

Eskom begins new round of negotiations with unions on Tuesday

Business Report writes that Eskom said on Monday that the new round of negotiations, which were set to begin on Tuesday, could bring to an end the stalemate with its employees over wage increases.  Eskom withdrew its inflammatory zero percent “offer” following a meeting on Friday with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and its three trade unions, namely the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity.  Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said the power utility would offer “anything above zero percent” in the new round of negotiations.  He indicated:  “We have a mandate from our shareholder to increase our offer.  We have seen the softening of attitudes from the unions as well.  If we continue along that trajectory, we will be able to make a lot of progress in the negotiations.  Hopefully we will find each other before the end of this week.”  Prior to the meeting with Gordhan, the three unions had declared disputes with Eskom and the matter was headed to the CCMA.  At the weekend, Numsa reported that the unions, Eskom and Gordhan had agreed to discuss, among other issues, Eskom’s coal costs, the impact of independent power producers, Eskom’s bloated top executive structure “and the building of trustworthy relationships between the parties as part of the process post negotiations”.

Read this report by Siseko Njobeni in full at Business Report

NUM denies reports it wanted to postpone Eskom wage talks

ANA reports that that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Monday slammed reports that it had called for the postponement of wage negotiations with power utility Eskom because of a clash with its congress this week.  Spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said the congress, which would be starting on Wednesday, would not affect the wage negotiations “as there will be another team from the NUM that will fully participate in the wage negotiations."  He emphasised that the union was not calling for the postponement of the Eskom wage negotiations and would fully participate in the talks starting on Tuesday and lasting until Thursday.  Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan announced on Friday that Eskom and its three trade unions would this week resume the deadlocked wage talks.  The power utility has conceded to remove its zero percent wage increase stance from the negotiating table.

A short report is at Engineering News

NUM slams claims by Eskom of 'sabotage' on part of union members

ANA reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Monday said that Eskom was lying to the public that workers affiliated to the trade union were responsible for sabotaging work being done at the power utility's power stations across the country.  Eskom’s claim came after it began implementing load-shedding last week when the electricity grid became constrained after workers downed tools following a deadlock in wage negotiations.  Livhuwani Mammburu, NUM national spokesperson, said that Eskom was lying about union members intimidating some workers at power stations, adding that the power utility was simply looking for public sympathy, while using the union’s members as scapegoats.  “This is hogwash and unacceptable.  Eskom management must deal with their own problems and stop blaming the workers," he said.

Read this report in full at Engineering News


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Off-duty Durban police detective dragged from car‚ shot dead

Timeslive reports that an off-duty police detective was dragged from his car and shot dead by a gang of men near Isipingo‚ south of Durban‚ on Monday.  Police spokesman Brigadier Jay Naicker said that the officer‚ a detective stationed at Umlazi‚ had been sitting in his car with a companion when the men surrounded his vehicle.  He reported further:  “It is alleged that at least six unknown suspects approached them and forced the detective out of his vehicle.  He was shot and died instantly.  His companion was also wounded during the attack.  The police officer’s firearm was taken by the suspects before they fled the scene in their getaway vehicle.”  Acting provincial police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi condemned the killing.  The attack follows the wounding of a police dog handler who was ambushed as he arrived at his Shongweni home.  He was shot several times and is still in a Durban hospital.

Read this report by Jeff Wicks in full at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Three teachers hijacked at gunpoint at gates of Cape Town primary school, at Timeslive


MINING LABOUR

Families of deceased Sibanye-Stillwater mineworkers to get company support

The Citizen reports that precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater, which this year alone has suffered safety incidents that left 12 mine workers dead, has undertaken to provide support to bereaved families.  This will include children’s education from school through university, said CEO Neal Froneman, who committed to work with trade unions and other key stakeholders to avert the recurrence of safety incidents at the company’s operations.  The families concerned would receive lump sum compensation; funeral cover costs (including transport for family and employees); pension or provident fund cover; death and Rand Mutual cover in various amounts; housing or house renovations; replacement employment to a member of the family; and ongoing trauma counselling.  Froneman said Sibanye was “fully investigating the safety incidents” together with the Department of Mineral Resources and trade union representatives “in order to identify the root causes”.  The investigation would afford the company “an opportunity to determine what needs to be done differently to avoid safety incidents”.

Read this report by Brian Sokutu in full at The Citizen

Postings on Mining Charter

  • Mantashe: New Mining Charter to drive transformation, reduce risk, at Fin24
  • Charter in current form will not promote investment, growth, says Minerals Council, at Mining Weekly
  • Mining Charter unclear on benefits for mining-affected communities, at BusinessLive


MARIKANA 2012 DEATHS

Case against 17 Marikana miners in connection with strike deaths postponed to February

ANA reports that 17 mineworkers facing multiple charges relating to a violent strike at Lonmin platinum mine operations in Marikana four years ago briefly appeared in the North West High Court in Mogwase on Monday.  The case was postponed to 4 February 2019, due to an application the accused have brought before the High Court in Pretoria to review National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams decision to prosecute them.  The accused are facing 26 counts ranging from attempted murder, murder, malicious damage to property, robbery, unlawful possession of firearms and also unlawful possession of ammunition.  The charges relate to the murder of 10 people, in the days preceding 16 August 2012 when 34 mineworkers were killed by the police during a wildcat strike at Lonmin platinum mine operations in Marikana.  The State alleges the group killed two policemen, two Lonmin security officers and three non-striking workers.

Read this report in full at The Citizen

Former North West top cop’s Marikana murder trial postponed

ANA reports that former North West provincial deputy police commissioner Major General William Mpembe and eight other policemen appeared briefly in the North West High Court on Monday.  The case was postponed to 14 September for a pre-trial conference.  The accused are facing charges relating to a shooting incident in Marikana near Rustenburg in August 2012.  Mpembe, now head of security at a mining house in Marikana, is accused of the murder of Semi Jokanisi, Tembelakhe Mati, Warrant Officer Hendrik Tsietsi Monene and Warrant Officer Sello Ronnie Lepaauku.  He is charged alongside retired Colonel Salmon Johannes Vermaak and four others.  Mpembe faces other charges of defeating the ends of justice, contravention of the Ipid Act as well as contravention of the Commission Act.  Vermaak faces further charges together with three others of defeating the ends of justice and contravention of the Ipid and Commission Acts.

Read this report in full at The Citizen


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Municipal strike in Port Elizabeth set to continue

eNCA reports that the municipal workers' strike in Port Elizabeth is set to continue and, as the strike enters its fifth day on Tuesday, refuse is piling up on the streets with discarded bags lining almost every curb.  While the municipality works on a contingency plan, it has called on all residents to take their refuse to a waste centre.  But there seems to be no quick solution as the municipality says it cannot afford to pay R75-million back pay in long service bonuses.  According to officials, they are waiting for the mayoral committee to sign off on a new long service bonus offer.  A final offer will apparently be decided on at the mayoral committee meeting on Wednesday and then given to the unions to peruse.

This short report is at eNCA. Read too, Paid services to be ‘free’ during strike, says union, at HeraldLive

Truck drivers stage strike on N4 near Komatipoort on Tuesday

Timeslive reports that approximately 150 trucks from a transport company stopped on either side of the N4 near Komatipoort in Mpumalanga as drivers embarked on a strike on Tuesday.  Hlasinyane Motaung of the Motor Transport Workers’ Union (MTWU) said that protected strike action had started on Monday with the workers unhappy because the employer had outsourced the staff.  He alleged that there were issues related to tax and the drivers' provident funds.  "They were deducting from the salary for this but employees are receiving letters saying they owe SARS‚" claimed Motaung.  He pointed out that the striking truck drivers had not blockaded the N4 highway, but acknowledged that traffic had slowed down.  Motaung was of the view that a deal could be struck soon.

A short report by Naledi Shange is at Timeslive

Protesting Durban municipal workers block off roads with heavy vehicles on Tuesday

Timeslive reports that disgruntled municipal employees cut off critical city waste and water services by using earthmovers to blockade roads in Springfield Park‚ Durban on Tuesday.  The striking workers from the eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS) department have demanded an audience with city managers‚ although it is not clear what their concerns relate to.  They apparently used TLB’s and bulldozers to barricade Electron Road.  Bulldozers were used to shift concrete bollards and mounds of sand to block the gates to the main truck yard depot.  Articulated trucks - with tractors loaded on the back - were abandoned in the entrance and exit of the EWS office.  The protest prevented access to offices in Electron Road.

A short report by Jeff Wicks and a video clip are at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Uber drivers protest against fares remaining static despite fuel price increase, at BusinessLive
  • Uber drivers back on the road after Monday's strike, at eNCA


ESSENTIAL SERVICES

Teachers’ right to strike on the line if teaching declared an essential service

BusinessLive reports that the Essential Services Committee (ESC) is investigating whether to declare teachers and education support staff essential services, following a request from the Democratic Alliance (DA).  The probe by the ESC, which functions in terms of the Labour Relations Act (LRA), has potentially far-reaching implications, as workers who are deemed to render essential services have a limited right to strike.  The LRA defines an essential service as one that, if interrupted, would endanger the life, personal safety or health of part of or all of the population.  The DA’s Nomsa Marchesi said they sought to ensure that pupils were safe and secure at school in the event of industrial action.  The ANC has also previously called for teaching to be declared an essential service, but the proposal was shot down by teacher unions, which described it as unconstitutional.  Mugwena Maluleke, general secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), said teaching could not be an essential service because "no life is threatened once it is not rendered".  The ESC will be holding public hearings on the matter in various cities during July.  It is also conducting an investigation into whether public transport services should be declared an essential service.

Read this report by Tamar Kahn and Bekezela Phakathi in full at BusinessLive


EMPLOYERS’ ASSOCIATIONS

Labour registrar warns Salga its registration as an employers’ association could be revoked

BusinessLive reports that the labour registrar has warned the SA Local Government Association (Salga) that its registration as an employer association could be revoked.  In a warning published in last Friday’s Government Gazette, labour registrar Lehlohonolo Molefe said the association had breached certain sections of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and had ceased to function in line with its own constitution.  The applicable LRA sections relate to disclosure and submission of financial records and audited financial statements to the registrar.  It is not known which sections of its constitution Salga failed to adhere to.  Salga is one of the biggest employer associations, whose members include all the country’s 257 local governments.  It represents municipalities in collective bargaining with municipal trade unions.  On Monday Salga said it had lodged an objection to the notice and had engaged with the labour registrar to resolve the matter.  The association told Business Day it had never breached sections 98 and 99 of the LRA as stated by the registrar.  It also said it was audited annually and had received five consecutive clean audits.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

SA Express scrambling to pay June salaries, Fedusa appeals for emergency funding

Fin24 reports that according to the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa), SA Express might not be able to pay its staff on 25 June.  The labour federation issued a statement on Monday indicating that acting CEO Matsietsi Mokholo had informed staff that salaries might not be paid later this month.  Fedusa said it had appealed to Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan to provide emergency funding for the salaries.  Cash-strapped SA Express was recently grounded by the SA Civil Aviation Authority (Sacaa) due to non-compliance with 17 findings related to safety management processes.  The process of reapplying for certification could be lengthy.  SA Express spokesperson Refilwe Masemola confirmed that because the airline was unable to fly passengers it could not generate revenue.  She added that the airline’s management and board were “tirelessly” exploring various alternatives to ensure the payment of staff salaries on 25 June.  According to Fedusa general secretary Dennis George, the situation the airline was facing was not “unfixable”.  He also emphasised that the government as shareholder was duly accountable.

Read this report by Lameez Omarjee in full at Fin24. Read Fedusa’s press statement at SA Labour News


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE / LIVING WAGE

National minimum wage exemption applications will be ‘incredibly complicated and onerous’

In a letter to the editor, MP Michael Bagraim, who is the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) labour spokesman, notes that the labour minister has drafted regulations relating to applications for exemption from paying the new national minimum wage (NMW).  The minister has asked the public to comment to the Department of Labour on the draft by not later than this Wednesday.  In Bagraim’s view, the regulations are “incredibly onerous, in fact almost ridiculous in their structure”.  He observes that there will be “an incredibly complicated and exceptionally onerous structure applicable in what is required with regard to supporting documentation.”  The minister will require all audit documents, including assessment of affordability and profitability, and will look at the liquidity analysis and assess solvency.  But, Bagraim predicts that the regulations will make it almost impossible for small and start-up businesses to apply for the exemption and will encourage them to rather pay whatever wages they choose, knowing that the chances of them being discovered are negligible given that the department is bad at enforcing the current law.

Read this letter in full at BusinessLive


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / JOB LOSSES

Organisational shake-up at Amathole municipality to fend off ‘financial ruin’ could mean lay-offs

DispatchLive reports that the Amathole District Municipality (ADM) might be forced to lay off people or rearrange the salaries and positions of some of its 1,600-odd employees as it attempts to fend off financial ruin.  Last week the municipality announced it was in the process of “reviewing and redesigning” its organisational structure.  The looming shakeup was announced by ADM mayor Nomfusi Nxawe during her state of the district (Soda) address last week.  “We are not going to hide the fact that this council inherited a municipality that is technically bankrupt due to poor financial management with a total budget deficit rising from R10-million in 2016-17 to R412-million in 2017-18,” Nxawe stated.  She went on to indicate:  “In addressing these and other challenges, we are reviewing and redesigning our organisational structure in order to focus on our core mandate and effectively utilise the skills base within our disposal.”  Attempts to get comment on specific details of the organisational review from Nxawe and municipal manager Thandekile Mnyimba were not successful.   Attempts to get comment from the SA Municipal Workers’ Union’s (Samwu’s) Amathole regional secretary were unsuccessful on Monday.

Read this report by Siphe Macanda in full at DispatchLive


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Denel finance boss on special leave while 'serious' claims are probed

BusinessLive reports that Denel has placed its group chief financial officer, Odwa Mhlwana, on special leave pending a disciplinary process after serious claims of misconduct were made against him.  The state-owned arms manufacturer has refused to name the "serious allegations", but said it had taken the step to allow for a verification process of the allegations against Mhlwana.  This would include interviews with his colleagues.  The process would be presided over by an independent chairperson and would be completed by the end of July.  Mhlwana’s placement on special leave comes a little more than a month after group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe resigned following reports that he signed a questionable R1.1m bursary for former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo’s son.  Ntshepe and former Denel board chairman Daniel Mantsha were implicated in allegations of state capture in a tranche of leaked Gupta e-mails.  Mantsha resigned from Denel in March.  The parastatal indicated that its board members had received a number of serious allegations made by whistle blowers since their appointment in April.

Read this report by Genevieve Quintal in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Action against Denel top brass a step in the right direction, at Solidarity News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • ‘Drunk’ JMPD cop suspended after car crash kills three, at The Star
  • 'Racist' Pretoria cop to appear in court on Tuesday, at News24
  • Former crime intelligence boss Pat Mokushane granted bail, at News24


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT SERVICES

Four-hour delays after three train carriages caught fire at Cape Town station on Monday

Cape Times reports that three train carriages caught fire at Cape Town’s Steenberg station on Monday, resulting in about four-hour delays as officials were kept busy clearing the debris.  No one was injured and fire and emergency rescue services safely evacuated commuters from the train.  Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said the cause of the fire and estimates of damage would be assessed during post-incident investigations.  Rewards of up to R25,000 were payable for information leading to successful convictions of arson, Scott indicated.  The incident resulted in the Simon’s Town trains from Cape Town terminating at Retreat train station; trains then operated on a single line between Retreat and Fish Hoek.  Bus shuttle services were used to ferry commuters between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town.  The incident came less than a month after another Metrorail train was set alight near Ottery station,

Read this report by Sandiso Phaliso at Cape Times. See too, Three railway coaches set alight at a Cape Town train station on Monday, at News24. And also, Metrorail estimates carriage damage at R8m in suspected arson attack, at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Metrorail bleeds passengers, has funds to turn around, says planning GM, at Engineering News

 


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