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, 29 June 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Department of Labour inquiry into 2015 Grayston Bridge collapse gets going again

Timeslive reports that the inquiry into the Grayston Drive pedestrian and cyclist structural bridge collapse, set up by the Department of Labour, is scheduled to resume on Monday with testimony from the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA).  Two people died when the bridge collapsed onto two vehicles on 14 October 2015.  A further 19 people were injured.  The latest sitting of the inquiry - which is meant to investigate what went wrong and who is responsible for the collapse - will continue until Thursday, 5 July.  The department said in a statement that a total of 13 sessions were expected to be held between July and September this year under a new presiding officer.  Phumudzo Maphaha has taken over from Lennie Samuel‚ who took ill.  The inquiry had its first sitting in February 2016 and last sat in September 2017.  Previously‚ Murray & Roberts‚ the main contractor, claimed the quality of some of the couplers used to hold the scaffolding structure together had not been up to standard.  However‚ Form-Scaff‚ the company that supplied the scaffolding‚ countered this by accusing Murray & Roberts of poor workmanship.

Read this report in full at Timeslive. Read the Department of Labour’s press statement at SA Govt News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Man killed in industrial accident in Bethal in Mpumalanga on Friday, at The Citizen


MINING LABOUR

Sibanye-Stillwater, unions sign milestone mine safety pledge on Friday

ANA reports that Sibanye-Stillwater said on Friday it had reached a significant safety milestone with relevant stakeholders committing themselves to a joint pledge and a plan of action to address health and safety issues at the miner’s operations.  The precious metals producer held a safety and health summit together with the Department of Mineral Resources and organised labour comprising Amcu, the NUM, Solidarity and Uasa.  The parties committed to working together to make the workplaces safer, protect jobs and collaborate on all matters pertaining to the health, safety and well-being of workers.  Further engagements to involve all the relevant role players are planned with operational leadership teams across all Sibanye operations.  Cross sector working groups will be put in place to monitor the implementation of the plan of action.  Neal Froneman, Sibanye CE, said they were encouraged by the commitment by all the stakeholders to address the safety challenges at operations.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read too, Sibanye-Stillwater signs a safety pledge with unions, minerals department, at EWN

US shareholders to sue Sibanye-Stillwater over mine fatalities

Reuters reports that a US law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against Sibanye-Stillwater on behalf of shareholders to recover losses suffered after a spate of deaths at its mines triggered a sharp fall in its share price.  Bernstein Liebhard said the suit would deal with "misleading statements" made by the precious metals producer, which has had 21 fatalities at its operations so far in 2018, almost half the total in SA’s mining industry.  On Tuesday, Parliament’s mineral resources portfolio committee chairman, Sahlulele Luzipo, said it was "high time the company was placed under curatorship".  He went further and suggested that the miner’s operating licence should be withdrawn.  While expressing concern about the fatality rates, the trade unions concerned, namely the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), pushed back at suspending the operating licence, saying many families relied on the mines for survival.

A short report by Tanisha Heiberg is at BusinessLive. Read too, Sibanye has a new problem: a shareholder class action suit, at BusinessLive

Sibanye-Stillwater vows to defend itself against lawsuit in US over mineworker deaths

ANA reports that precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater said last week that it would "vigorously defend" itself against a possible lawsuit in the United States over deaths of mineworkers at its operations in SA.  "The company notes the publicity and, if any claims are ultimately filed against the company intends to vigorously defend itself.  We will continue to monitor developments closely," Sibanye said in a statement.  This came after a US law firm Bernstein Liebhard on Thursday filed a class action lawsuit against Sibanye on behalf of shareholders to recover their losses following a sharp decline in its share price after a spate of fatalities at its mines.  Bernstein Liebhard said in a statement that the suit would deal with "misleading statements" Sibanye made.  The producer has had 21 fatalities on its operations in 2018, almost half the total in SA’s mining industry.

Read the original of this report at eNCA. Read the company’s press statement at Moneyweb

Lily and Barbrook mines hit by ongoing infighting

City Press reports that the new owners of the Lily and Barbrook mines have accused the chairperson of the creditors committee of making “baseless” allegations about their deal to take over the businesses.  They have also accuse him of a conflict of interest.  Among a list of demands, Dwaine Koch, Barbrook creditors’ committee chairperson, has been putting pressure on the Siyakhula Sonke Corporation (SSC) Group to provide proof that it has received a R190m loan from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).  Koch has accused business rescue practitioner Rob Devereux of not being in control of the two sister mines’ assets, which are located near Barberton, and the committee is going ahead with its application to liquidate the mines, even though SSC and the IDC struck the deal in March.  The two mines were owned by Vantage Goldfields and had been under business rescue since April 2016, when they were shut down.  This was after a section of Lily mine collapsed in February that year.  Three workers who were in a container office on the surface disappeared into a sinkhole and were buried under tons of rock and soil.  Their bodies have still not been recovered.  SSC now owns 74% of Vantage Goldfields SA.  Koch claimed:  “SSC came in and misled us by saying they’ve got enough money to buy these mines, open them and pay creditors and workers.  It’s clear that’s not happening and it’s not the truth.”

Read this City Press report by Sizwe Sama Yende in full at Fin24

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Indian coal miner, community set to meet in public debate to discuss Yzermyn underground coal mine, at Mining Weekly

Postings on Mining Charter

  • Just dump the charter, says top BEE expert, at Fin24


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Gautrain maintenance workers go on strike on Friday

Timeslive reports that according to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), its members working at the Gautrain on Friday fought back with “the only weapon they have in their possession - the right to strike”.  Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said:  “Our members are angry.  They have been forced into taking this course of drastic action because management is refusing to pay benefits in line with the wage agreement which was signed last year.”  Workers want a R5‚000 housing allowance and 13th cheques and claim these have been outstanding since wage negotiations last year.  Gautrain spokesperson Kesagee Nayager said on Friday that 71 employees, namely more than half of the maintenance employees, had embarked on the protected strike.  She added that “there is no agreement with the union [Numsa] stating that company will pay workers a housing allowance.  The company salary structure already caters for a 13th cheque.”  Nayager said contingency plans were in place to ensure that trains were not affected by the strike.

Read this report by Nico Gous in full at Timeslive. Read too, Gautrain workers down tools, at The Citizen


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Unions to consult members on Eskom’s ‘take it or leave it’ 6.2% pay rise offer

BusinessLive reports that trade unions at Eskom said on Thursday they would consult their members on whether to accept or reject the power utility’s renewed wage increase offer of 6.2% for 2018.  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity indicated that Eskom presented the proposal as a "take it or leave it" offer during negotiations on Thursday.  Solidarity said it would advise its members to accept the offer, which also promises 6% in 2019 and 6% the following year.  Solidarity’s Deon Reyneke said they thought the offer was favourable given Eskom’s distressed financial position and stated:  We will advise them (members) that this is a good offer as long as we can save jobs.  That will give Eskom an opportunity to sort out their financial problems and have stability."  The NUM said it "noted" the offer and would report back to the negotiations plenary when it reconvened next Friday.  The union said Eskom had threatened to revert to the 4.7% wage increase offer it proposed last week if unions did not accept the 6.2%.  Numsa confirmed it would take the new offer to its members, although it has objected to Eskom’s non-response to its demand over the scrapping of the independent power producers (IPP) programme.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read Numsa’s latest press statement with more details of the offer at Politicsweb

Eskom needs R1.3bn to cover new wage offer

Business Report writes that Eskom will have to fork out an additional R1.3 billion in staff salaries if labour unions accept its offer of a 6.2% wage increase.  The wage offer comes against a background of doubt about Eskom’s ability to operate as a going concern.  The state-owned power utility on Thursday tabled a revised offer of a 6.2% rise for 2018, 6% for the second year of a three-year deal and another 6% for the third year.  This after the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity rejected Eskom’s 5% wage offer on Wednesday.  The three unions have consolidated their demands, which include a 9% wage increase in 2018, 8.6% for the second year and 8.5% for 2020.  Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim indicated on Thursday that they had decided to take Eskom’s 6.2% offer to their members to reflect on.  “They must tell us how they feel about it and give us a mandate for the way forward.  We will meet again next Friday where we will communicate the decision of our members,” Jim indicated.  

Read this report by Loyolo Mkentane in full at Business Report


BARGAINING COUNCILS

Satawu opposes Putco’s application to bargaining council for exemption from wage increase

ANA reports that the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) on Friday made a submission to oppose an application by Putco Bus to be exempted from paying its workers the wage increase signed in May after a lengthy drivers’ strike.  Satawu indicated in a statement:  “Labour unions and employers in the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) signed a two-year wage agreement in May following a month-long industry-wide strike.  Parties agreed workers would receive a 9% wage hike in the first year and 8% the following year.  But since then, Putco, Algoa Bus, Golden Arrow and two others have applied to the bargaining council seeking to be exempted from complying with the wage deal.”  The hearing on the pros and cons of Putco’s application was heard on Friday in Johannesburg.  Satawu noted that company has refused to pay the wage increase and bonuses to its workers despite having just finalised the large-scale retrenchment of 220 employees and having abolished 380 positions across company operations.

Read the original of this report at The Citizen


MINIMUM WAGES

Pay hike of 6% for hospitality sector workers

ANA reports that the minimum wage for workers in the hospitality sector went up by 6% with effect from 1 July.  The Department of Labour said the new Hospitality Sectoral Determination, which governs wages, working hours and other basic conditions, sets the minimum monthly wage for employees in a company of ten or less workers at R3,384.71, the weekly rate at R781.14 and the hourly rate at R17.34.  The new wages for employers with more than 10 employees will be a minimum monthly rate of R3,772.65, a weekly rate of R870.62 and an hourly rate of R19.35.  “The current wage increases have been determined by utilising the April CPI [Consumer Price Index] (excluding owners’ equivalent rent) reported by Stats SA on 23 May 2018, which is 4.5 percent plus 1.5 percent as prescribed in the sectoral determination.  The total increase is six percent,” said spokesperson Teboho Thejane.

This short report is at The Citizen


INSOURCING

City of Johannesburg insources 1,600 security guards

News24 and EWN report that the City of Johannesburg has completed the insourcing of the first 1,600 of over 4,000 contract security workers and their official duties commenced on Sunday, 1 July.  The City indicated in a statement on Saturday that it had previously outsourced its security services.  This had been through over 150 contracts with service providers, paying on average R14,000 per security guard, while the guards themselves received as little as R4,500 as a salary per month  The next phase of insourcing is expected to be implemented over the coming weeks.  On Sunday, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reacted by saying it welcomed the move.  The EFF’s Musa Novela said they were happy that, as an opposition party, they were able to influence decision making in the city.  Earlier in 2018, the EFF tabled a successful motion in which it pushed for the insourcing of all contract workers in the city.

Based on reports at News24 and EWN. Read the City’s press statement at Politicsweb


EMPLOYMENT EQUITY / AFFIRMATIVE ACTION / EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

‘Slap on the wrist’ for employment equality noncompliance

City Press writes that employers continue to ignore the 20-year-old Employment Equity Act (EEA), while companies taken to court for noncompliance have received minimal fines – ranging from R20,000 to R500,000.  Yet, the act allows for a maximum penalty of R1.5m.  Labour department sources have blamed Labour Court judges for not imposing the maximum, saying this has allowed a vicious cycle of non-compliance to continue.  “They ignore transformation, knowing that they will get away with paying small fines.  Courts are not serious about transformation.  They are failing us,” said a source.  More than a hundred employers facing litigation at the Labour Court for not complying with transformation legislation could walk away with a slap on the wrist.  In addition to these 105 companies, the labour department apparently took 72 JSE-listed companies on review in 2017/18, for failing to adhere to their own employment equity plans.  The department issued 60-day notices to them to comply.  Most responded positively, including the JSE itself.  Of the 72 firms, nine were about to be served with summons.  Five of them settled out of court and each paid a fine of nearly R1.5m.  The department is preparing court cases against the remaining four companies which either did not have equity plans, or lied about reaching their targets.  

Read this City Press report by Msindisi Fengu in full at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • How long will it take to fix employment equity? at News24


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY CLOSURES

Newspaper formerly known as ‘The New Age’ shuts down, staff to be paid for July

BusinessLive reports that Afro Voice, the newspaper formerly known as The New Age, is set to close at the end of June, after its re-branding failed.  The paper and television news network ANN7 were bought by Mzwanele Manyi last year from the Gupta family’s Oakbay Holdings.  Manyi changed ANN7’s name to Afro Worldview and re-launched the paper as Afro Voice, saying its content would include more African news than other publications in SA.  Staff at the paper were told late on Thursday afternoon, that the paper would shut down at the end of June, but that they would be paid salaries for July even though no newspaper production would occur.

A short report by Alistair Anderson is at BusinessLive. See too, AfroVoice newspaper to shut down, at News24

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page