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, 22 June 2018.


TOP STORY - NHI

Health system in crisis and NHI will bring stability, Ramaphosa tells NUM congress

BusinessLive reports that, addressing the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) congress on Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the health system was in a crisis.  He confirmed fears expressed by experts, activists and unions that the system has collapsed, contradicting Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s strong opposition to that sentiment.  On Tuesday, Motsoaledi said government health services were not falling apart, as criticism against his leadership grew and union federation Cosatu called on Ramaphosa to fire him.  Ramaphosa told NUM delegates that the National Health Insurance (NHI) Fund would bring stability to the stressed system.  On Thursday, Motsoaledi released the NHI Bill, which will pave the way for universal healthcare coverage whereby the financially fit would have to help subsidise those who were not.  Referring to opposition to the NHI plan as expressed by medical aid companies and others, Ramaphosa indicated that the system would be implemented "whether people like it or not".  He stated:  “Right now our hospitals are burdened and our healthcare is in crisis, and we believe the only way to [correct] this is to pool all resources and everyone makes a contribution."

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read too, NHI Bill gazetted, paving way for NHI fund, in which the rich subsidise the poor, at BusinessLive

NHI to bring radical change and critical risks

City Press reports that four factors are likely to determine the success or failure of the National Health Insurance (NHI), as the government last week released two new bills to enable its establishment.  According to Nicholas Burger, a healthcare consulting analyst at market research company Frost & Sullivan, these would be funding, collaboration between the public and private sectors, the availability of a skilled workforce and management – including avoiding corruption.  Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi last week published the NHI Bill and the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill for comment.  The aim of the NHI is to provide healthcare services to all South Africans, regardless of their income level.  The system is scheduled to come into effect in 2026.  Burger said the NHI was likely to be funded using a “mixed model”, or different sources of revenue.  Motsoaledi said he had his eye on the R60 billion in reserves that the medical aid industry had piled up.  In Burger’s view, it was unlikely that the NHI would make medical aid schemes redundant.  However, they would lose members.  The Board of Healthcare Funders of Southern Africa said last week that it welcomed progress made towards universal healthcare for all.  The board represents 45 local medical aid schemes, administrators and managed care organisations.

Read this City Press report by Justin Brown at Fin24. Read too, Motsoaledi announces drastic changes to medical aid rules, at Timeslive

Public Servants Association welcomes Medical Schemes and NHI proposals 'with caution'

Timeslive reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) has welcomed “with caution” aspects of the proposed Medical Schemes Amendment Bill and the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill announced on Thursday.  Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced a number of changes to the Medical Schemes Amendment Act, including the eradication of co-payments for medical aid members when medical aids did not cover their full doctor or hospital bills.  The PSA’s Ivan Fredericks commented:  “The PSA is of the view that if more people have adequate access to primary healthcare‚ the country will be on its way to restoring human dignity.  The abolishment of medical co-payments is especially welcomed as relief for workers who struggle with monthly medical-aid scheme contributions.”  However the union, which represents more than 240‚000 public sector employees‚ cautioned that the amendments should ensure that medical aid schemes and service providers did not have flexibility to simply adjust premiums and fees to recover costs.

Read this report by Nomahlubi Jordaan in full at Timeslive. Read the PSA’s press statement in this regard at SA Labour News

Exodus of doctors feared as NHI proposes bold cure

The Sunday Times reports that, while some have welcomed the government’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) legislation, legal and medical experts said many doctors would reject the planned cap on what they could charge for consultations and surgeries.  Some analysts warned that state-regulated fees would drive doctors to emigrate, leaving the health sector worse off than it was now.  Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Thursday released the NHI and Medical Schemes Amendment bills for comment.  Under the NHI bill, the new health insurance fund would be the biggest purchaser of health services in SA and consumers would have to contribute to it.  The bill also proposes price controls in the private sector.  Medical lawyer Neil Kirby of Werksmans said that in view of the scarcity of doctors, it would not be a good strategy to freeze out those who did not stick to NHI rates.  “The prudence of excluding healthcare providers, in an already strained system starving from a lack of available expertise, is highly questionable if not irrational,” he commented.  Norton Rose Fulbright director Michelle David said doctors were likely to challenge the NHI in the courts, as they had challenged price control before.  Graham Anderson of Profmed was amongst those who warned that, if doctors were not happy with the tariffs they would have to charge, they would emigrate.  He said emigration was the main cause of members leaving Profmed medical scheme.

Read more of this The Sunday Times report by Katharine Child at SA Labour News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • When will NHI kick in‚ SA Medical Association asks Motsoaledi, at Timeslive


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Cop shot dead, two guards and bystanders wounded in Hillbrow cash-in-transit heist on Thursday

News24 reports that one police officer was shot dead, while two Fidelity guards and two bystanders were wounded during a cash-in-transit robbery in Hillbrow, Johannesburg on Thursday.  Police said in a statement that several unknown suspects attacked and fired shots at a parked cash-in-transit vehicle and fled the scene, taking an undisclosed amount of money.  SAPS Hillbrow Cluster members and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department responded and pursued the getaway vehicles.   A shootout between the police and the suspects ensued.  Fidelity CEO Wahl Bartmann confirmed that two of their guards had been shot and wounded during the robbery.  Bartmann indicated that the guards went to pick up money at a shop in Hillbrow when they were robbed.  Six suspects have since been arrested - two of whom were also wounded in the shootout.

Read this report by Iavan Pijoos and Christina Pitt in full at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Western Cape farm worker killed as dam wall collapses on him, at News24


MINING LABOUR

Sibanye-Stillwater’s thin executive line under scrutiny after mine deaths

Business Times writes that, on the surface with a leadership team of only 55 people overseeing more than six operations in SA, Sibanye-Stillwater's (SS’s) management seems stretched to an alarming degree.  That could be one of the factors contributing to its steep rise in fatalities this year.  Of the 45 mineworkers who have died in SA this year, 20 worked at SS operations.  Last week the precious metals producer, which has had a rapid expansion over its short history, appointed a new safety manager to deal with the safety problem.  SS’s industry peer, AngloGold Ashanti, has 400 employees at its Johannesburg headquarters, while Anglo American has a corporate global headcount of 1,000 workers.  If one adds middle management based at its mining operations, SS has a South African leadership team of about 137 people.  CEO Neal Froneman has focused much of his attention on removing hierarchies and making management more centralised.  Asked whether management was stretched, SS spokesman James Wellsted said:  "No, absolutely not.”  He added that Froneman and the rest of management were taking the rise in fatalities hard.  Some analysts argue that SS’s need to rein in debt of R23bn has come with a lot of cost-cutting, which probably means that staff in its headquarters and its operations are hard-pressed to meet production targets and management is stretched too thin.  Makwe Masilela of Makwe Fund Managers said the question was whether Sibanye had enough safety personnel.

Read more of this Business Times report by Lutho Mtongana at SA Labour News

Safety of miners is paramount‚ Ramaphosa tells NUM congress

Timeslive reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday that one life lost due to mining accidents was one too many‚ with companies only being concerned about profits.  He was speaking at the National Union of Mineworkers’ (NUM’s) elective congress in Boksburg and said he placed safety at a high level and was concerned to see more and more miners dying.  “Mineworkers must never ever work in dangerous places.  You must refuse to work in a dangerous place‚" he told delegates.  Ramaphosa also stated that mineworkers should be respected as key stakeholders and said he would spare no effort to deal with challenges facing the mining sector.  "It’s a sunrise industry and we can reposition it to make it viable industry‚" he opined.  SA has already lost 45 lives this year in mines‚ 20 of them at Sibanye-Stillwater operations.

Read this report by Kgaugelo Masweneng in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Sibanye-Stillwater urges miners to evacuate unsafe mining areas, at Miningmx. And also, Mantashe calls on the NUM to bring ideas to halt mine fatalities, at Miningmx

Postings on Mining Charter

  • Ramaphosa: Mining Charter must reposition industry, at Fin24
  • Mining Charter’s free-carried interest requirement worries industry, at Mining Weekly
  • Gwede’s Mining Charter gets the thumbs down, at Fin24
  • New draft Mining Charter better than ‘disaster’ it is replacing, says BLSA’s Mohale, at Mining Weekly


NUM NATIONAL CONGRESS

Joseph Montisetse unseats Piet Matosa as NUM president

eNCA reports that Joseph Montisetse is the new president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).  He was elected at the union's 16th national congress, which ended on Friday night in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni.  The former NUM deputy president was up against his president, Piet Matosa.  General-secretary David Sipunzi retained his position after defeating Mbuyiseni Hibana.  Infighting has divided the NUM for years, contributing to its membership losses.  In 2011 it had a membership of more than 300,000 but that figure has declined to just below 200,000.

This short report is at eNCA


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Nelson Mandela Bay municipal strike ends, with agreement on back-pay of long service bonuses

GroundUp reports that the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan (NMBM) municipal workers called off their strike on Friday after an agreement was reached on back-pay of long-service bonuses.  Contention over back-pay followed the merger of several municipalities into the NMBM municipality.  According to city manager Johann Mettler, the settlement reached provided for “R10,000 for employees with 12 to 17 years, R16,000 for employees with 18 to 23 years, and R21,000 for those employees with service of 24 years and more”.  The bonuses will be paid after Council approval which will come by 15 July at the latest.  Certain other issues were also agreed upon.  The workers were represented by the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu).  Most services in the metro came to a halt as the strike gained momentum.  The service most affected was refuse collection.  All employees who participated in the industrial action will return to work on Monday unless they are officially on duty over the weekend.

Read this report by Joseph Chirume and GroundUp Staff in full at GroundUp

JMPD warns of possible strike by Alexandra taxi drivers on Monday

News24 reports that Johannesburg Metro Police (JMPD) have warned of a possible strike by Alexandra taxi operators on Monday after about 500 taxis were impounded for a range of traffic and licensing infringements.  Spokesperson chief superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the vehicles were impounded in a recent operation for offences such as driving in the emergency lane, having fake licence discs, driving on the wrong side of the road, and licences that expired as far back as 2012.  The majority of the taxis have already been released on payment of a fine of R2,850.  Minnaar reported that the department had heard that the taxi operators would go on strike on Monday.  According to the Alexandra Taxi Association’s website, the taxi industry carries 75% of Johannesburg’s economically active population, thousands of whom live in and around Alexandra.

Read this report by Jenni Evans in full at News24


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Unions lash out as wage talks delayed to give Eskom more time to consider demands

BusinessLive reports that wage negotiations at Eskom have been delayed again after the power utility told unions on Thursday it needed more time to consider their demands.  The unions spurned Eskom’s wage increase 4.7% offer on Wednesday and tabled a 9% demand for 2018.  They also demanded an 8.6% increase in 2019 and 8.5% in 2020, as well as housing allowances of R1,000 and 180 paid maternity leave days.  The trade unions involved in the talks, namely the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity, slammed Eskom for the delays and warned that talks could deadlock again, as they did two weeks ago, due to Eskom’s indecision.  Meanwhile, the NUM has warned Eskom of “dire consequences if it thinks the looting mess created by the Guptas will be corrected by retrenchments of our members.”

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana, Kgaugelo Masweneng & Thando Mpembe in full at BusinessLive. Read too, NUM warns Eskom not to retrench its members as wage talks continue, at BusinessLive

Eskom wage talks to resume on Wednesday

SABC News reports that wage talks at Eskom are set to resume on Wednesday, after the state-owned power utility and unions failed to reach agreement last week.  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity presented a consolidated set of demands, including a revised 9% wage increase demand.  Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the unions were unhappy that Eskom sent a delegation to the talks that did not have a mandate to respond to the reduced wage demand from the unions.  He commented:  “The failure for Eskom to make sure that they have got an appropriate decision (-maker) that can negotiate and take decisions on the spot does border on Eskom bargaining on bad faith. …  The fundamental issue is wages.  But for them to be able to respond completely, the board would apparently be able to have a full board (meeting) on Monday.”

Read this report in full at SABC News

PSA gives minister seven days to respond to 15% Sassa wage increase demands

Timeslive reports that Public Service Association (PSA) has given the social development minister seven days to respond to its demands.  On Thursday‚ SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) staff members affiliated to the PSA delivered a memorandum of grievances to the agency’s CEO.  The PSA said the memorandum came after Sassa refused for months to engage with union representatives on wages and conditions for its employees and then only offered to comply with the agreement signed at the bargaining council for public servants.  Among the list of their demands‚ the employees want a 15% salary increase‚ the current housing allowance to be increased to R2‚500, and payment of the housing allowance to both spouses who are Sassa employees.  They also want Sassa offices to be closed for the period between Christmas and New Year and for a minimum of three days of special leave to be granted for religious activities other than Christian ones.

Read this report by Nomahlubi Jordaan in full at BusinessLive


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS

Government eyes staff cuts, hiring caps after public sector wage deal

Reuters reports that the Treasury said on Friday that government was considering layoffs and early retirement packages for staff in the public sector to avoid breaking its pledge to cut spending.  This followed a deal clinched with unions in May for above-inflation wage increases.  Salaries of public sector employees, including teachers, police and nurses, increased by up to 7% this year and will increase by 1% above inflation in the two years after that.  In its February budget when the Treasury outlined plans to reduce SA’s large debt pile to stave off ratings downgrades, it had planned for 4% wage increases.  The Treasury commented that the "government has indicated on several occasions that a wage agreement that departs significantly from inflation would need to be accommodated within announced expenditure limits, failing which such an outcome could have adverse consequences."  Specific details on the measures will be given at a later stage.

Read this report in full at Engineering News


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS / UNFAIR LABOUR PRACTICES

Solidarity accuses Hlaudi Motsoeneng of 'playing cat and mouse' with the courts

Timeslive reports that trade union Solidarity claims that former SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng is “playing cat and mouse” with the courts.  This was said after Solidarity’s legal team received Motsoeneng’s application to the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal a Labour Court ruling ordering him to personally pay for the legal costs associated with a ban on the SABC covering protest action.  This ban resulted in eight journalists - the so-called SABC 8 - being unlawfully fired at the time.  Motsoeneng unsuccessfully appealed against the Labour Court ruling earlier this year.  According to Solidarity’s Anton van der Bijl, Motsoeneng was simply postponing the inevitable.  “He is playing a cat and mouse game with the courts‚ but he will back himself into a corner yet again‚” Van der Bijl commented, adding that the union had already given instruction to oppose Motsoeneng’s latest application.  “Solidarity has repeatedly indicated that it will not rest until Motsoeneng has paid the costs in his personal capacity as the court had ordered.  We are looking forward to oppose him in the highest court in the country‚” Van der Bijl said.

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

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page