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
Wednesday, 27 June 2018.


Labour registrar must act on rampant fraud in a number of unions

Business Day’s Theto Mahlakoana writes that the office of the country’s labour registrar should be taken to task over the appalling state of trade unions in the country.  Corruption, fraud and other financial crimes are said to be the order of the day in a number of unions.  Ms Mahlakoana points out that, while law enforcement agencies are equally to blame for not taking on such cases with vigour, the labour registrar is empowered by the Labour Relations Act to act against organisations that are not compliant with the law, including those unable to account for the use of workers’ monies.  It is argued that unions demand transparency from public and private sector employers, yet “membership subscriptions and union investment companies are quietly being looted.”  Cases of corruption in transport union Satawu, municipal union Samwu and chemical union Ceppwawu are given as examples.  The labour minister recently advocate Lehlohonolo Molefe as new labour registrar and within his first few weeks in the job he sent out a notice of intention to deregister the SA Local Government Association (Salga) for not complying with the law.  Yet Satawu, Samwu and Ceppwawu have yet to catch his attention.  It is opined that, if Molefe fails to act, he will be contributing to the decline of the labour movement.

  • Read this insightful article by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BL Premium (paywall access)


Police condemn killing of two Gauteng officers in three days

News24 reports that national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole has condemned the killing of two police officers in separate incidents in three days in Gauteng.  On Monday morning, a constable was shot dead while he and a warrant officer responded to a complaint at Ekangala, near Bronkhorstspruit.  When they arrived at the scene, the constable approached four men on foot to ask for information.  They just opened fire on the 43-year-old constable and ran off taking his firearm.  He was killed.  In a separate incident, a police sergeant was killed on Saturday when he arrived home from work in Payneville, Springs.  The officer was off duty, but still in his full uniform when he was killed.  The suspects fled the scene without taking anything and the motive for the murder is not known.  Sitole indicated that he had tasked a specialised team to track down and bring the perpetrators to book.

Read this report by Iavan Pijoos in full at News24. Read too, Task team appointed following two Gauteng cop killings, at The Star. And also, Police safety a ‘serious concern’ says Popcru, at Afro Worldview

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Case against Durban man accused of setting father's employee alight postponed to 3 August, at News24


Lawmakers want action over Sibanye-Stillwater mining deaths

ANA reports that the chairperson of the portfolio committee on mineral resources on Tuesday called for strong action to be taken against Sibanye-Stillwater, including possibly suspending its operating licence.  Sahlulele Luzipo observed that the rate at which workers were dying at the mines of the precious metals producer had reached “disastrous proportions” and said that it was high time Sibanye was placed under curatorship.  This came after Sibanye confirmed that a mineworker had died at its Khomanani mine at the Driefontein operation after he entered a scraper path and was caught by the scraper.  This latest incident brings to six the number of Sibanye workers who have died in one month, raising the number of fatalities to 21 in 10 incidents since the beginning of the year.  Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) called for Sibanye to brief the committee on safety incidents.  Sibanye will on Friday convene a safety summit in a bid to collectively address these incidents and re-establish its safety record.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read the chairman of the portfolio committee’s press statement at Parliament Online. Read the DA’s press statement at DA News

NUM and Amcu call for changes to mining safety laws in wake of yet another Sibanye death

News24 reports that two mining unions have called calling for amendments to mining safety legislation after yet another death at Sibanye-Stillwater operations.  The miner confirmed that at its Driefontein Khomanani shaft a 35-year-old winch operator had entered a gully while busy cleaning during the night shift when he was fatally hit by a scraper.  National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu reacted by saying:  "The Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA) must be amended so that mine bosses [can] also be held responsible.  They must be prosecuted and sent to jail…  It is a very worrying situation at Sibanye and it shows that the company does not care about the mineworkers and the health and safety precautions."  The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) also called for urgent intervention, saying the current spate of deaths at Sibanye-Stillwater was a crime against humanity.  Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said mining minister Gwede Mantashe and President Cyril Ramaphosa must intervene, and specifically look at strengthening section 23 of the MHSA in terms of which workers could refuse to work in dangerous conditions.

Read this report by Iavan Pijoos in full at News24. Read too, Sibanye condemned for yet another death at its operations on Tuesday, at The Citizen. And also, Patience runs out for Sibanye killer mines, at SowetanLive

Editorial: ‘Mine safety alarm is ringing’

In Wednesday’s editorial, Business Day writes that 21 workers have already died at Sibanye-Stillwater’s mines only 178 days into the year, which is a staggering number.  The paper says that it’s hard to imagine many jurisdictions that would tolerate having in its midst a company in which an employee was killed at his or her place of work virtually every week and neither should we.  That one company accounts for almost half the fatalities in 2018 so far is rightly ringing alarm bells, with the chairman of Parliament’s mineral resources portfolio committee calling for Sibanye to be placed under curatorship.  Who, it is asked, can argue against the view that the deaths have now reached 'disastrous proportions'.  In a statement on its website, Sibanye described the latest incident at its Khomanani mine as "perplexing", but shareholders noticed and pushed the company’s shares down about 11% on Tuesday.  Clearly, management’s actions so far, including the appointment of a new safety boss, have been far from adequate.  It will need to do something quickly, otherwise the political pressure for something far more drastic will be impossible to resist, and its stockholders are already getting the message.

Read this Business Day editorial in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Sibanye-Stillwater shares are rocked by mine fatality, at Business Report

Private security company uses rubber bullets on protesters at Glencore smelter in Marikana, injuring eight

News24 reports that eight people were shot and injured during a legal march, after a private security company fired rubber bullets at a group protesting outside a smelter in Marikana on Tuesday.  The protest took place at Wonderkop Smelter, a Glencore Merafe Chrome Venture operation near Rustenburg.  "While the march was busy, a private security firm fired shots at the protesters.  One of the allegations is that they tried to gain access or blocked the road," a police spokesperson indicated.  Reports that stun grenades were used to disperse the crowd could not be confirmed.  Glencore said in a statement that the community of Wonderkop Village had been demanding employment from the operation.  According to the company, the protesters had been aggressive, assaulting security personnel and pelting them with stones.  The company claimed the injuries were minor.

Read this report by Iavan Pijoos in full at News24

South African units of Jindal Steel file for business rescue

Mining Weekly reports that the South African units of Jindal Steel & Power filed for business rescue this month.  Jindal Mining SA, Jindal Africa Investments and Eastern Solid Fuels filed notice of the voluntary proceedings on June 12, according to documents posted on Jindal Africa’s website.  Jindal Mining SA’s main business is coal production at the Kiepersol mine, according to one of the documents.  Business rescue practitioners for the unit have scheduled a meeting with creditors for 26 June.

A short report is at Mining Weekly

Postings on Mining Charter

  • Black Business Council consulting members on draft Mining Charter, at Mining Weekly


Staff at Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein back at work after striking over staff shortages

News24 reports that the strike at Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein has come to an end after nurses and hospital staff downed tools on Tuesday morning over staff shortages.  They were reportedly calling on the health department to intervene to ensure more workers were hired in the maternity ward.  They agreed to return to work after the Free State health department and unions reached an agreement at a meeting that included representatives from Nehawu, Denosa, the PSA and Hospersa.  Free State health MEC Montsheng Tsiu and head of department David Motau assured unions that the department had managed to reprioritise its budget to enable 13 maternity nurses to be employed.  Mvambi said the department had also received permission from Treasury and the Free State premier to gradually employ about 91 nurses to strengthen the hospital's maternity ward.  Meanwhile, 20 nurses would be temporarily employed to strengthen services in the maternity ward.  There was also agreement that overtime incentives would be paid within 30 days from the date of submitting necessary documents.  Meanwhile, the hospital's kitchen staff delayed dishing out food as they were demanding that the department should insource them.

Read this report by Sesona Ngqakamba in full at News24

Shoprite says striking NTM members are employed by contracted service provider

ANA reports that the Shoprite group said on Wednesday that striking National Transport Movement (NTM) workers were not its employees, but were employed by a service provider with which the group has a contract to render specific services.  A notice from NTM on Tuesday said Shoprite, Checkers, U-Save and Hungry Lion stores would all be shut down due to unresolved wage disputes.  "The group confirms that it has received a copy of the notice issued by the union and that employees of the service provider have been on strike at the group's Centurion distribution centre since May 2018," Shoprite Holdings indicated.  It added that on Wednesday morning its stores opened for normal trade.  The union has claimed that Shoprite/Checkers, its subsidiaries and labour brokers were paying some employees only R400 per week, which they said were poverty wages that workers rejected with contempt.  The workers are apparently demanding a minimum basic salary R12,500 (warehouse) and R15,000 (drivers), plus the introduction of a provident fund, medial aid and a 13th cheque.

A short report by Lindi Masinga at IOL News. See too, Shoprite, Checkers, U-Save and Hungry Lion stores facing shutdown, at The Citizen


Rise in government jobs offsets drop in trade jobs in 2018 first quarter

BusinessLive reports that a sharp rise in government jobs in the first quarter of 2018 managed to offset a drop in trade jobs from the December quarter.  Statistics SA reported on Tuesday in its latest quarterly employment statistics (QES) report that what it termed "community services" — essentially government jobs — grew by 67,000 to 2.7m in the March quarter from 2.6m in the December quarter.  Trade jobs — which tend to peak in the December quarter —declined by 26,000 to 2.13m from 2.15m.  The overall number of formally employed South Africans grew by 56,000 to 9.84m at end-March from 9.78m at end-December.  But while the total number of jobs grew 0.6%, the total salary paid declined by 3.9% to R25.6bn from the previous quarter.  The average salary of formally employed South Africans was R19,858 in February, 1% lower than November’s R20,060.  People working in "electricity-, gas-and water-supply industry" earned the highest average salary of R41,146, while those in “wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles, motor cycles, and personal and household goods; hotels and restaurants industry" earned the lowest average salary of R13,269.

Read this report by Sunita Menon in full at BusinessLive

Low business confidence means increase in jobs in first quarter unlikely to be sustained

BusinessLive writes that the increase in employment in the first three months of 2018 is unlikely to be sustained, mainly because of damped business confidence.  The key driver of the job creation was the community and construction sectors, Statistics SA said on Tuesday.  However, after a weak performance by the manufacturing and construction sectors in the first quarter, which weighed on economic growth, this was unlikely to be sustained.  “Given just how poorly the manufacturing and construction sectors have performed, we are sceptical that the job gains in these two industries can be sustained,” said FNB senior economic analyst Jason Muscat.  Overall 56,000 jobs were created, but the trade and mining sectors had huge job losses.  While business and consumer confidence made a jump in the first quarter, this has begun to wane as confidence has fallen to levels in the pre-Ramaphosa period.  The increase in jobs did not suggest that the first quarter pick-up in business and consumer confidence resulted in any lift in private sector employment, said Muscat.  He added that the subsequent fall in the second quarter business confidence was a portend that there might be more job shedding in the second quarter.

Read this report by Sunita Menon in full at BusinessLive

SA needs more civil servants, not fewer, says Saftu

The Citizen reports that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), which is country’s second biggest union federation, has demanded more civil servants.  .  The federation was reacting to a report that hospitals in Gauteng had been directed to fill only 50% of vacant funded posts occupied by retired, resigned and deceased nursing staff.  Yet, Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa last week announced that her department was facing a “critical shortage of skilled nursing personnel”.  On the same day, the Gauteng department of roads and transport confirmed that 507 vacant and unfunded posts had been abolished as they were in excess of requirements, and said the posts had not been filled in the last five years.  The federation said the two accounts exploded the argument that the public service was “bloated”.  It also summed up everything that was wrong with SA society, namely at a time when 8.7m people were unemployed, and the unemployment rate among young people was a staggering 63.8% (expanded figure), there was nonetheless a “critical shortage” of workers in a vital public service.  Saftu added that it was not just in health that there was a desperate need of more, not fewer public servants.  “All other public services face similar problems and are the reason why so many communities have been protesting, often violently, at the abysmal level of service provision,” it said

Read this report by Eric Naki in full at The Citizen


Anesthesiologists warn of mass exodus of doctors if NHI legislation is implemented recklessly

News24 reports that the SA Society of Anesthesiologists warned on Tuesday that rolling out of the National Health Insurance Fund blindly would have severe consequences.  At a briefing on proposed legislative changes to the healthcare system, the organisation expressed concerns that there would be a mass exodus of doctors and specialists if the new funding model were to be implemented recklessly.  "We need to ask ourselves how we are going to make NHI work when we do not have people to ensure that access is better," the society's Dr Lance Lasersohn asked.  Last week, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi detailed two bills which aimed to put in place a set of health financing reforms to provide universal healthcare.  Lasersohn said he knew and understood that the NHI's aim was to make healthcare more affordable.  "It is also about providing the public with access to the healthcare not at a high quality but not at a low quality either," he observed.  Lasersohn was also concerned about the brain drain following the uncertainty on the implementation of NHI.  A survey conducted by the society found that some 482 people wanted to leave the practice for various reasons, mostly uncertainty.  The society's CEO Natalie Zimmelman noted the attitude towards NHI was overwhelmingly negative, but organisations were willing to work with the government to find a lasting solution.

Read this report by Amanda Khoza in full at News24. Read too, Anaesthetists say NHI will be 'detrimental' to profession, at The Star. And also, SA needs ‘thousands more specialists’ for NHI, at The Citizen


Eskom still an employer of choice, despite dire financial straits and wage dispute

BusinessLive reports that power utility Eskom has scooped two awards at the Most Attractive Employer Awards which were held on Monday in Johannesburg and hosted by Universum Global.  Eskom took gold (first position) in the category of SA’s most attractive employer for engineering and technology students, and bronze (third position) for most attractive employer for engineering and technology professionals.  "This award is proof that Eskom is not only Africa’s best energy utility but that it cultivates and promotes talent in the most crucial disciplines of our business, which are engineering and technology," said Eskom’s GM for transmission grids‚ Jacob Machinjike.  Eskom boasts a long history of being in first position as the employer of choice among students and professionals in the engineering and technology category, from 2008 to 2014-15.  The power utility received the accolades this year amid very fractious wage negotiations with unions‚ which are set to resume on Wednesday.

Read this report by Nomahlubi Jordaan in full at BusinessLive. Read too, SA’s most attractive employers, at Fin24


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page