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, 3 July 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

No cross-examination at Grayston bridge collapse inquiry would be ‘gross oversight’

Moneyweb reports that an effort by Murray & Roberts (M&R) and other ‘protagonists’ to prevent cross-examination of witnesses in the Department of Labour’s inquiry into the collapse of the Grayston bridge structure in October 2015 failed on Monday.  Two people were killed and 19 injured when a temporary works structure collapsed onto the busy freeway on 14 October 2015.  Newly-appointed commissioner Phumudzo Maphaha ruled against the proposal by Adv. Sias Reyneke SC, acting for M&R, that comprehensive witness statements should be submitted on the basis of which parties could submit written questions, but that no cross-examination should be allowed.  Maphaha however ruled that it would be a “gross oversight” and an “act of injustice” for him not to cross-examine witnesses should he need further information.  Maphaha has taken over from his colleague Lennie Samuels, who earlier presided over the inquiry but had to step down due to health issues.  The inquiry is aimed at identifying who was responsible for the collapse in 2015 and making recommendations to prevent similar incidents.  The main parties before the inquiry are Murray & Roberts, the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), the JDA’s agent Royal HaskoningDHV and Form-Scaff.  Certain individual employees of M&R have their own legal representatives, while trade union Numsa is representing others.

Read this report by Antoinette Slabbert in full at Moneyweb

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Uitenhage health workers strike for safer working conditions, at The Citizen


MINING LABOUR

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO 'traumatised' by surge in mine fatalities

News24 reports that Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater, said on Monday that he was "deeply saddened and traumatised" to have lost so many mineworkers at the precious metals producer’s operations.  During a conference call to address recent safety incidents and other relevant issues, he stated:  "In my entire 40-year career in mining, I have never experienced anything like this.  I am deeply saddened and traumatised to have lost so many Sibanye-Stillwater family members in this way."  The death toll at the company’s operations this year alone stands at 21, which is close to half of the fatalities in the entire mining industry.  The spate of deaths at Sibanye has sparked outrage from labour unions and has led to a potential class action lawsuit in the US.  "We are taking structured and well-defined steps to restore our safety performance," Froneman said.  Among these, the company has appointed an expert in mining safety, Cobus de Jager, as corporate head of safety.  His primary focus will be to fully review the company's safety management systems and processes.

Read this report by Iavan Pijoos in full at News24. Read too, Sibanye cuts gold production guidance following safety stoppages, CEO outlines safety plan, at Mining Weekly. And also, Myriad issues spur Sibanye to cut output forecast, at BusinessLive

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • DA to visit families of workers at fatality-hit Sibanye-Stillwater, at The Citizen


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Sassa workers' wage strike is far from over, warns PSA

Pretoria News reports that the ongoing strike over wages by SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) employees was far from over, Public Service Association (PSA) Tshwane provincial manager Olivia Mashigo warned on Monday.  She gave the warning after employees represented by the PSA intensified their call for a living wage by downing tools at all Sassa offices and picketing outside the Sassa head office in Pretoria.  All Sassa offices were affected countrywide.  In Pretoria, the members arrived at locked gates and no one came out to address them.  Mashigo commented:  “The fact of the matter is that we are not going to stop and we are willing to spend whatever needs to be spent and do whatever needs to be done, in order for our members to be heard.”  Mashigo indicated:  “For this week we are having a complete shutdown today (Monday) and we will continue to picket for the rest of the week.  The main issue that prompted the strike is the issue of wage negotiations.  We told Sassa that we want a certain amount but they were only offering 7%.”  Members were apparently demanding salary increases of between 11% and 13%.  They were also picketing over the biometric system.

Read this report by Rudzani Matshili in full at Pretoria News. Read too, Sassa employees threaten to intensify strike, at eNCA. See too, Sassa’s strike could have ‘catastrophic’ consequences, says PSA, on page 4 of The Star of 3 July 2018

Shabangu takes PSA to court to interdict Sassa strike

ANA reports that an application by Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu to interdict striking SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) employees was due to be heard at Johannesburg's labour court on Tuesday.  Thousands of members of the Public Servants Association (PSA) downed tools over wages at the agency on Monday, leading to a shutdown of social grant disbursements.  They were also demanding concessions on housing, leave, danger allowance, performance management, and the insourcing of some services.  The union is seeking a 12% wage hike and, because salary matters at the agency are governed by the Sassa Act, wants to be allowed to negotiate for its members directly with Shabangu.  A 7% wage increase agreement was signed in respect of other public sector workers last month.  The Sassa strike has affected July social grants payments, with some beneficiaries failing to receive their grants.  The PSA’s Ivan Fredericks said they would not back down on their demands and planned to intensify the strike nationwide.

Read this report by Getrude Makhafola in full at IOL News. See too, Shabangu heads to Labour Court to stop Sassa workers strike, at EWN

Uber and Taxify drivers in Joburg embark on strike on Tuesday

Timeslive reports that Uber and Taxify operators on Tuesday vowed to shut down the app-based e-hailing operations in Johannesburg.  Early in the morning in Rosebank, drivers blocked pick-ups of passengers who were wanting rides from their colleagues who had not joined the protest.  At an assembly point in Zoo Lake‚ the taxi operators stopped some Uber and Taxify operators who were transporting customers on Lower Park Drive from continuing with their journeys.  Organisers also sent groups of drivers to popular pick-up spots‚ including Gautrain's Park Station and Sandton‚ to collect drivers who had defied a call to strike‚ ordering them to join the protest gathering near Zoo Lake.  Vhatuka Mbelengwa‚ spokesman for the general task team comprising operators from both platforms‚ said the operators wanted an increase in the fees they were receiving from both companies.  "For Uber‚ we want them to reduce the 25 percent they are taking.  We also want them to stop getting more operators on the platforms as these are oversubscribed‚" Mbelengwa indicated, adding that they would ask both companies to stop training new drivers.

Read this report in full at Timeslive. Read too, Uber and Taxify ‘reckless’, say striking drivers, at The Citizen


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Sactwu strike looms in footwear manufacturing sector over wage increases

ANA reports that the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) said on Monday that a strike was looming in the footwear manufacturing sector over a wage increase dispute.  The union’s general secretary Andre Kriel said they were in dispute with the Southern African Footwear and Leather Industries Association (Saflia) after failing to reach a wage settlement following two rounds of negotiations and a conciliation meeting on 28 June.  Kriel indicated that the union had rejected the association's offer of a 6.25% wage increase for this year, against labour's demand for 9.5%.  "Negotiations have now finally deadlocked.  We have now written to Saflia and all other footwear employers to inform them that we will commence with a strike ballot of our members, during the course of this week," Kriel stated.

This short report is at eNCA. See too, Sactwu strike looming in the footwear industry, at Business Report. Read Sactwu’s press statement at Cosatu News


PROTESTS / MARCHES / CAMPAIGNS

Popcru gears up for 13 July march on Union Buildings with two weeks of lunchtime pickets

The Citizen reports that the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) on Monday launched the start of two-week long countrywide lunchtime pickets at selected criminal justice cluster buildings.  This action will culminate in a mass protest march to the Union Buildings.  The union’s demands include restructuring of the police service; one police service and one police Act; an end to police killings; finalisation of grading of public servants’ appointments; a promotions policy; and finalisation of shift patterns.  The union claims that exhaustive talks with the criminal justice cluster have borne no fruit, forcing its members in correctional, traffic and police institutions to march for their rights.  “It is due to this that scores of Popcru members and supporters will be attending a national march on Friday, July 13 towards the Union Buildings, where memorandums of demands are expected to be given to the different governmental heads,” spokesman Richard Mamabolo indicated.

Read this report by Brian Sokutu in full at The Citizen


UNION NEWS / STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

Cosatu owed R45m in subscription fees as affiliates struggle to pay

SowetanLive reports that labour federation Cosatu was owed R45-million in affiliation fees by various unions at the 2017 financial year end.  This was due to infighting in the unions and difficulty in collecting membership fees.  The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and the Liberated Metalworkers Union of SA (Limusa) are not in good standing after failing to pay their fees for many months.  Cosatu has 17 affiliates and president S'dumo Dlamini confirmed on Monday that a number were in arrears.  "The CEC [central executive committee] … has been dealing with the matter for some time.  We are persuading them to honour the monthly subscription fees.  We have not come to the point of talking expulsion," Dlamini indicated.  Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said unions were unable to pay "due to their internal challenges in collection of membership fees … while trying to meet other obligations of their own."  Samwu general secretary Simon Mathe admitted the union was 20 months in arrears.  "There were issues of leadership which were resolved by the labour court.  We have started paying.  We have paid R3-million to Cosatu," he advised.  Meantime, a Satawu task team negotiated for Cosatu to write off outstanding fees and presently the union “is in good standing and has been keeping up with its monthly payments."

Read this report by Ngwako Modjadji in full at SowetanLive


PRICES / TARIFFS

Cosatu deeply alarmed by impact of escalating price of fuel on poor households

ANA reports that Cosatu said on Monday that poor households would be hardest hit by yet another increase in the price of fuel.  Citing a weaker rand against the dollar, the energy department advised at the weekend that the price of petrol would go up by up to 26 cents per litre from Wednesday.  This follows a steep increase last month as well.  The wholesale price of illuminating paraffin, used by many households that cannot afford electricity, will also increase, by 22 cents a litre.  Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said the labour federation was “deeply alarmed” by the escalating price of fuel.  He stated:  “This spells bad news for all South Africans but the impact on poor families will be even worse.  This increase in fuel prices will create a level of hardship for a group that is already suffering from high levels of unemployment and stagnant or declining real wages.  Low- and moderate-income families are going to plunge further and further into debt because their wages are now inadequate to afford the basic amenities.”

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read too, Petrol price hike record blow for the country’s consumers, at Business Report. Read Cosatu’s press statement in this regard at Cosatu News


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Construction group Esor to slash headcount by 33% amid liquidity woes

Business Report writes that listed civil engineering and construction group Esor has commenced a process to retrench about 33% in the wake of serious financial and liquidity problems.  CE Wessel van Zyl said on Friday that the group had made provision in its cash-flow forecast for retrenchment costs of about R10m, with the reduced headcount cutting costs by about R4m a month and R13.6m in retrenchment costs incurred in the year.  Esor retrenched 439 employees in the six months to August last year.  It employed an average of 2,533 people in its 2017 financial year.  Van Zyl observed that the Esor board's view was that the company was not and would not become financially distressed.  This was informed by proactive steps that had been taken or matters concluded to avoid becoming financially distressed and ensure creditors remained satisfied.  Van Zyl added that Esor’s board believed sufficient steps had been taken to alleviate the group’s immediate cash-flow problems.  Esor is one of a number of listed construction companies experiencing financial and liquidity problems.

Read this report by Roy Cokayne in full at Business Report


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

GEPF warns members against bogus agents charging a fee for assistance

EWN reports that the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) has warned its members of bogus agents who were charging a fee to assist them to claim outstanding funds.  This followed reports of beneficiaries being approached by the false officials who solicited money from them.  The fund has clarified that services were free and any person rendering a fee should be reported to the police.  Spokesperson Mack Lewele said:  “We ask our clients not to give anybody money and their personal details like your ID number and banking details because we don’t know what these people are going to do with your details.  If you want information, please come to the GEPF.”

This short report by Tendani Mulaudzi is at EWN

SA millennials are saving but most are not investing in retirement funds

BusinessLive reports that less than half of millennials are saving for retirement through pension or provident funds, with shifting perceptions by younger investors offering both opportunities and difficulties for financial services companies.  An Old Mutual Unit Trust survey of South African millennials — or those born between 1981 and 1996 — found that only 44% were investing in pension or provident funds, compared with 61% saving money in a bank account.  These conclusions fit with global surveys that have concluded that millennials are good at saving but less likely to invest.  This reflects a trend analysts say is putting increasing pressure on the fees that asset managers are able to charge because millennial investors are more savvy and aware of fee structures.  10X Investments senior investment analyst Chris Eddy commented that the short-term approach taken by younger investors was counterintuitive as they should be investing in riskier assets that offered higher rewards over the long term.  The saving strategies of millennials were less likely to allow for compounding returns of savings, noted Old Mutual Investment Group MD Khaya Gobodo.  South Africans are consistently ranked as being among the worst savers and most indebted consumers in the world.

Read this report by Karl Gernetzky in full at BusinessLive


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Tom Moyane appeals to Ramaphosa over ‘unfairness’ of dual inquiries

BusinessLive reports that suspended SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane has appealed directly to President Cyril Ramaphosa to halt one of two inquiries into tax administration and his alleged misconduct — or face urgent legal action.  "Our client has sharply raised in both proceedings‚ the gross unfairness of being simultaneously subjected to both processes when the subject matter inquired into‚ as it pertains to him‚ is substantially the same and/or largely overlapping‚" Moyane’s lawyer, Eric Mabuza, wrote to Ramaphosa‚ hours after retired Judge Robert Nugent dismissed the same argument about his inquiry into tax administration.  In a scathing ruling‚ the judge dismissed all five of the objections made by advocate Dali Mpofu‚ describing his submissions as a "disgrace" and "abusive".  In his letter to Ramaphosa‚ Mabuza said it seemed Nugent "has adopted the attitude that these are issues which do not fall under his jurisdiction but that of the president.”  As a result‚ Mabuza has taken Moyane’s objections straight to Ramaphosa.  They include a demand that the president remove Michael Katz as an adviser to the Nugent inquiry based on “reasonable" perceptions that Katz was biased.  It remains unclear when the misconduct inquiry against Moyane will get under way.

Read this report by Karyn Maughan in full at BusinessLive. See too, Moyane says disciplinary inquiry is 'manifestly oppressive', at EWN


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

eThekwini municipal shop steward sentenced to 20 years for colleague's murder

News24 reports that a popular shop steward employed by the eThekwini municipality was sent to jail for 20 years on Monday for murdering a colleague who was to testify against him at a disciplinary hearing.  Thamsanqa Njisane, a SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) representative who worked for the City's Parks and Recreation Department, was convicted for the murder of supervisor Johannes Sekoati, whom he shot five times in KwaMashu on 3 February 2015.  Njisane did not testify at his trial or give any version of events that led to his arrest.  He pleaded not guilty.  But KwaZulu-Natal High Court Judge Kate Pillay noted that it had been common cause that there was bad blood between the two men and Sekoati was going to give evidence at a pending disciplinary hearing.  She commented:  "We cannot have a society where people resort to violence to resolve disputes.  Surely he could have just got decent legal representation for his inquiry if he was afraid of the evidence the deceased was going to give?"  Pillay went on to say:  "The message has to be sent out that these sort of offences will not be treated lightly."

Read this report by Tania Broughton in full at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Two sentenced to life imprisonment for murder of station commander, at News24

 


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