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
Thursday, 28 June 2018.


TOP READ

‘Why the NUM’s days are numbered’

Financial Mail writes that one of SA’s oldest trade unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), is in its death throes.  The organisation has lost its relevance among mineworkers, construction and energy sector employees, and with membership having dwindled from more than 300,000 in 2011 to 187,000 last year, the NUM must adapt or die.  Its influence in political circles has also waned and it is now only a shadow of the union that was a leading voice in the ANC-led alliance and that played a key role in the formation of labour federation Cosatu in 1985.  It is said that, without the numbers it boasted in the past as the country’s biggest union, the NUM has become a spectator within Cosatu.  The union’s 16th national congress last week was marked by chaos, insults, jeering and angry confrontations that almost ended in violence.  After a bitter fight about credentials, scheduled discussions of key issues like the future of SA mining and the implications for labour, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme, the mining charter and SACP policy on fighting elections were all shelved.  Fights by factions within the NUM driven by the pursuit of power and money and the emergence of rival Amcu are said to be the main causes of the NUM’s collapse in membership and influence.  Yet, even though it has been haemorrhaging membership for more than six years, the NUM still does not have a recovery strategy or a unit aimed at recruitment.

Read this insightful and informative article by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Mpumalanga deploys armed guards at all public hospitals and healthcare centres

The Citizen reports that the Mpumalanga government has decided to deploy armed guards at all provincial hospitals and public healthcare centres.  The Ridge Times reports that these facilities include the provincial hospitals in Bethal and Evander, as well as the local clinics.  This decision was made after a number of robberies took place at various health facilities over the past few months.  The MECs for health, finance and community safety recently held a meeting to conduct a security situational analysis in respect of all the health facilities.  The meeting resolved that armed guards would be deployed with immediate effect to ensure the safety of patients, doctors and nurses, and others.

Read this report by Arisja Misselhorn in full at The Citizen

Case against Eskom technician in workplace murder of Thembisile Yende withdrawn

ANA reports that the family of Eskom employee Thembisile Yende on Thursday expressed dismay after learning that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had provisionally withdrawn the case against her alleged killer.  David Ngwenya, 43, a technician at Eskom, allegedly murdered Yende after he suspected that she would blow the whistle on a copper syndicate.  During proceedings at the Springs Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, Magistrate Daphne Jansen van Vuuren notified Ngwenya about the DPP’s decision.  “At this stage, they have provisionally chosen to withdraw the case, but it could be called back at any time,” Van Vuuren advised.  Yende’s body was discovered in the storeroom at the Pietersboth substation after she went missing on 17 May last year.  Members of Yende’s family were visibly emotional about the outcome.  On Monday, trade union Numsa called on Eskom to release surveillance footage that could possibly assist with the investigation into the case.

Read this report in full at The Citizen


MINING LABOUR

Sibanye-Stillwater gold division at risk if DMR intervenes in mining method, argues analyst

According to Johann Steyn, an analyst at Citi, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) could intervene at Sibanye-Stillwater, ordering it to change the mining method at its gold mining operations.  Such a development would imperil the viability of millions of ounces of gold.  Steyn’s contention is that Sibanye-Stillwater, when it was just Sibanye, undertook a strategy of short-term gains at the gold mines it ‘bought’ in the demerger of Gold Fields’ SA mines.  In his view, the spate of fatalities this year – totalling 21 lives – was a function of having cut out management layers, high-grading the pillars which Gold Fields had considered too dangerous to mine, and cutting capital and other operating expenses in order to lift profits just after the demerger in 2013.  But, company spokesman James Wellsted disagreed, saying:  “We do not agree with the comments made by the Citi analyst, which we believe are speculative and are not supported by adequate evidence.”  Wellsted pointed out that management reductions when it first assumed control of the Gold Fields assets had been among shared services rather than underground.  There had also been a decline in fatalities after the demerger.  But, in Steyn’s view, there was “… a real risk that the DMR could intervene which may have a negative impact on profits at a time when its (the company’s) balance sheet is already strained”.  In 2011, the DMR intervened at the Everest and Platinum Mile mines following fatalities, ordering a change in the mining method.  “This was the beginning of the end for these operations which were subsequently mothballed,” Steyn stated.

Read this report by David McKay in full at Miningmx

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Implats appoints Meroonisha Kerber as new CFO, at Mining Weekly


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Poo protests hit Ladysmith in uThukela Water strike

The Citizen reports that uThukela Water & Sanitation Service workers who were striking due to a dispute went so far as to throw faeces at the uThukela Municipality offices on Wednesday.  Ladysmith Gazette reported that the workers also made use of tractor/loader vehicles to break through the gates and even a wall at the entrance to the premises on Forbes Street.  Faeces was loaded on to the back of the uThukela trucks and onto bakkies.  The strikers blocked off the entrance to the uThukela depot in the Pieters Industrial Area on Tuesday.  According to an uThukela spokesperson, workers initially embarked on a “go slow” on Monday, eventually leading to a “downing tools” because of issues relating to overtime and standby payments.  Areas around Ladysmith have been left without water because of the strike.

Read this report by Saish Motheram in full at The Citizen


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Unions reject Eskom’s new 5% offer in wage talks

EWN reports that trade unions have rejected Eskom’s revised 5% wage increase offer made at renewed talks.  Eskom met on Wednesday with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity, when the state-owned power utility also offered above-inflation increases for next year and 2020.  However, Numsa said the latest offer was not one it could take back to its members, who were demanding a 9% increase.  Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim commented:  “All of us as unions, collectively, we’ve rejected 5% and we took a caucus and took a comprehensive response.  We call on Eskom to come to the party and make an offer that can settle this round of negotiations.”  The unions jointly stated:  “This is not an offer we can take back to our members for consideration.  Once again we have called on Eskom to take this process seriously.”

Read this report in full at EWN. Read too, Unions reject Eskom's new wage offer, at eNCA

Wage hikes cheaper than Eskom damage, unions point out

BusinessLive reports that according to trade unions at Eskom, the industrial action which workers participated in two weeks ago cost the power utility R50bn rand in damages, whereas their wage proposal in comparison would cost only R1.2bn.  Eskom declined to comment, saying wage negotiations were confidential.  The company upped its 4.7% wage offer with a further 0.3% on Wednesday, but the 5% offer was rejected by the unions, which have demanded 9% increases in 2018 as part of a three-year wage proposal.  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity said in a joint statement on Wednesday that they could not take the offer back to their members.  Eskom claimed it would have to cut operating costs to accommodate salary adjustments.  It initially proposed no wage hikes, which enraged some workers whose protests affected power supply.  The wage negotiations were expected to resume on Thursday.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Unions accuse Eskom of wasting time in wage talks, at EWN. Read the joint statement by the trade unions in the Eskom talks at Numsa News


EMPLOYMENT EQUITY / AFFIRMATIVE ACTION / EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

Twenty percent reduction in top white managers too slow‚ says CEE’s chairperson

Timeslive reports that South African businesses were lashed on Thursday for overlooking black and female candidates in training and promotions.  Commenting on the Commission for Employment Equity’s (CEE’s) latest report measuring the degree of transformation in the 20 years since the promulgation of the Employment Equity Act‚ chairperson Tabea Kabinde said:  "There is simply no real ‘political will and commitment’ to transform.”  During the 2017 employment equity reporting cycle‚ 27‚163 employment equity reports were submitted by designated employers‚ representing just over 7-million employees.  In terms of race‚ Kabinde said the biggest shift from the white population to the black population‚ in particular the Indian population‚ had been at the top and senior management levels.  The white population at top management level decreased by 20%, whilst at senior management level a 24.9% decrease was noted.  “This represents around a 1% increase of the black population year on year and is considered to be a very slow rate of transformation‚” Kabinde observed.  She added:  “The picture in terms of gender remains particularly discouraging.”  Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant‚ in a prepared speech for the release of the Employment Equity Report‚ signalled that government now favoured a punitive approach to enforce transformation.

Read this report in full at Timeslive


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Dramatic drop in take-home pay in SA in May

Fin24 reports that take-home pay levels in SA declined dramatically in May and are expected to remain under pressure until July, when adjustments to public sector wages are taken into account.  According to BankservAfrica's latest Take-home Pay Index, the take-home pay data suggests employees have to carry the burden of a shrinking economy.  The average gross salary in May 2018 was R14,290 in current terms, while net take-home pay was R10,010.  But when the gross salary is adjusted to constant 2016 money - to make comparison easier - it decreased to R13,621, some R290 less than in April 2018.  The current typical wage increased by 2.8%, but after taking inflation into account, declined by 1.5%, said Shergeran Naidoo, head of stakeholder engagements at BankservAfrica.  "The decline leaves take-home pay in constant terms at the same level as in December 2013," Naidoo observed.  BankServAfrica attributed the bleak numbers to the protracted and delayed public sector wage dispute.  BankservAfrica's Private Pensions Index (BPPI) for May, however, continued its 15-month consecutive increase trend, bolstering consumer spending in the economy.  Privately banked pensions increased by 4.5% in real terms.

Read this report by Marelise van der Merwe in full at Fin24

Nongoma IFP councillor serving six-year jail term for stock theft is still getting paid

BusinessLive reports that the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has ordered the Nongoma local municipality to immediately stop the payment of a salary to an IFP councillor who is serving a six-year jail term for stock theft.  Zamani Sibiya, a Ward 20 councillor in Nongoma, started serving his jail term on 4 May this year, but he has continued to receive his salary.  Also, the municipality has not declared a vacancy so that fresh by-elections can be held to fill his seat.  Sibiya was arrested in Volksrust late last year with several other people, all of whom were caught with stolen cows in their possession.  Mawethu Mosery, KwaZulu-Natal head of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said they were not aware of this case.  The MEC’s spokesperson said they only became aware of the matter a few days ago when it was aired in public.  He commented that according to the information at their disposal, the councillor had appealed his conviction and sentence.  Nonetheless, the MEC has since written to the speaker of Nongoma local municipality ordering a full report on this case with immediate effect.  After receiving the report, the MEC will determine the next course of action.

Read this report by Chris Makhaye & Nce Mkhize in full at BusinessLive


EXECUTIVE PAY

Executive bonuses opposed at Pallinghurst AGM as it changes its name to Gemfields

Miningmx reports that executive pay was a controversial issue at the AGM of Pallinghurst Resources, with 29.64% of shareholders voting against the adoption of the proposed remuneration policy.  Dissenting shareholders did not want to support bonus payments for board members until the firm adopted additional performance criteria.  Last year, about 22% of shareholders were opposed to the remuneration policy which proposed doubling board fees.  With even more votes against the 2018 pay proposals, Pallinghurst announced that:  “As more than 25% of shareholders have voted against the endorsement of the company’s remuneration policy the company will follow up and engage with those shareholders in due course”.  In essence, the matter relates to whether directors ought to receive bonuses on share price performance alone.  Some shareholders wanted Pallinghurst Resources – now officially known as the Gemfields Group following an exceptional general meeting – to adopt broader performance criteria.  Gemfields will be listed in London and will focus entirely on luxury goods.  It intends to divest from its platinum investment – Sedibelo Platinum Mines – as well as from the steel feed company Jupiter Mines which operates the Tshipi manganese mine in the Northern Cape.

Read this report by David McKay in full at Miningmx

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Naspers says it has made changes to its remuneration policy, at BusinessLive
  • SA Reserve Bank top leaders' moderate rise after profit of R3.2bn, at Business Report
  • Mediclinic’s new head has guaranteed salary of almost R10 million, at Business Report
  • Pay it back, AG tells Prasa's ex-CEO who gave himself a 350% pay hike, at Sunday Times


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Sell SA Express and redeploy skilled staff to SAA, analyst suggests

BusinessLive writes that the state-owned regional airline South African Express (SAX) is unlikely to recover from being grounded by the SA Civil Aviation Authority (Sacaa) and should be sold.  This is according to transport economist and aviation specialist Joachim Vermooten.  The Sacaa grounded the airline in May over noncompliance with safety regulations.  Vermooten said on Monday that it would be extremely difficult for the airline to recover revenue and market share when it resumed flying.  "The best thing would be to redeploy [SAX’s] skilled personnel to SAA, where there is a shortage, and then to sell it," he opined.  In the context of a R21.1bn shortfall at parent company SAA, he reckoned the cost to get SAX back into the market would be enormous, even not counting the cost of restructuring and paying off creditors.  Earlier in June, Matsietsi Mokholo, SAX’s acting CEO, said that although she arrived at the airline too late to prevent the grounding of nine of its 21 aircraft, the carrier could still be saved and that it “still has time."

Read this report by Neels Blom in full at BusinessLive


HEALTHCARE / MEDICAL SCHEMES

Strike-hit North West health department to take 18 months to rebuild

BusinessLive reports that, on the condition that the required resources be provided, rebuilding the strike-hit department of health in North West will take about 18 months.  The department, which was brought to a point of collapse as a result of a strike last month, has been placed under administration by national government and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has appointed an intervention team, led by Jeanette Hunter as the administrator.  The costing for the intervention and its team of experts is expected to be completed by August.  The team plans to strengthen supply-chain management and internal governance, and review the department’s organisational structure, among other things.  Hunter told National Council of Provinces (NCOP) members on Wednesday that the budget allocation for the compensation of employees to fill critical posts in the department was insufficient.  She noted that there were 734 acting positions in the department.  Of the 21,829 approved posts, 19% (4,175) were vacant.  The vacancy rate at senior management level was 28%, with 17 of the 63 posts needing to be filled.

Read this report by Linda Ensor in full at BusinessLive


SAPS SENIOR POSITIONS

Police union Sapu calls for board of inquiry into Khehla Sitole’s fitness to hold office

EWN reports that the SA Policing Union (Sapu) says it no longer has confidence in National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole's leadership and it has called for a board of inquiry into his fitness to hold office.  Claiming that it was clear that Sitole “has lost the plot to give visionary leadership and direction to the SAPS” and that he was “thrown into the deep end”, the union said that as a responsible and professional organisation “we do not have a problem in swallowing our pride and acknowledge our initial support in his appointment was misplaced.”  Sapu made adverse reference to two particular matters, namely Sitole’s firing of a constable for allegedly assisting a cash-in-transit heist kingpin in Limpopo without any due processes having been followed and his ordering of the Gauteng provincial police commissioner to leave her position at the end of this month, which was later reversed.  

Read a report by Sifiso Zulu in full at EWN. Read Sapu’s press statement in this regard at Polity. Read too, Gauteng police commissioner De Lange to stay on for now, at Timeslive

Gauteng police commissioner De Lange to stay in her post for now

Timeslive reports that Gauteng provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Deliwe de Lange is not going anywhere for the present.  De Lange‚ whom the SA Police Service (SAPS) had offered three other positions that she had declined‚ was set to leave her post on Friday after being allowed to take early retirement.  But the SA Policing Union (Sapu) has revealed that, following an urgent meeting on Wednesday between De Lange and national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole‚ the decision to allow De Lange to leave the SAPS had been reversed.  De Lange‚ who was leaving the police under Section 35 of the SAPS Act‚ was set to receive a R5-million golden handshake.  Section 35 is used to remove officers from the police when their posts become redundant, while removal of a provincial police commissioner has to be done with the approval of a provincial premier and legislature.  Sapu said it was set to obtain an urgent High Court interdict to stop De Lange's removal and golden handshake‚ which it believed was unlawful‚ when it was informed of Wednesday’s pending meeting.  Sapu president Mpho Kwinika commented:  “We are extremely pleased that common sense has prevailed.”  Police spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo said that at no stage did Sitole say or ask De Lange to leave the SAPS.

Read this report by Graeme Hosken in full at Timeslive


WORKPLACE CULTURE

Probe into SARS told of climate of fear under Tom Moyane

BusinessLive reports that a commission chaired by Judge Robert Nugent was told on Wednesday that a climate of fear, intimidation and harassment, accompanied by purges, characterised the SA Revenue Service (SARS) restructuring process under Tom Moyane.  The inquiry is looking into governance and administration at SARS and heard evidence in Tuesday and Wednesday about why senior and experienced employees jumped ship during the Moyane era.  Former SARS officials told the commission of how their work stations were monitored by cameras and their telephones bugged.  The executive officer overseeing integrity, Tshebeletso Seremane, described a climate of fear, bullying and intimidation compared to the period prior to 2014.  She said the restructuring process was one of "malicious compliance" and was not conducted in "good faith".  Despite being part of a workstream implementing the restructuring, she said she and other senior managers had not seen the report on the organisational redesign, but were given "presentations which showed nothing new" instead.  The restructuring was at the heart of the exodus of senior staff at SARS, whose employee complement has dropped from 14,000 to 12,600 since 2014.  Former head of the large business centre, Sunita Manik, told the commission that access to large sums of money for fraudulent purposes could be the reason the leadership dismantled the centre, which was among the most significant changes brought about by the restructuring.  The commission was due to continue on Thursday.

Read this report by Natasha Marrian in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Culture of fear at SARS, with bugs and cameras everywhere, inquiry hears, at Fin24. And also, How Tom Moyane allegedly slaughtered the tax cash cow, at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • 'SARS restructure was set up to cull enforcement', at Timeslive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page