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, 5 July 2018.


Engineer accepts responsibility for Grayston structure collapse, but refuses to answer inquiry questions

Hein Pretorius, who acted as the contract manager and engineer at the site of the Grayston Drive pedestrian and cyclist bridge project, has "accepted responsibility for the collapse of the temporary works structure".  He testified on Wednesday before the inquiry set up by the Department of Labour into the causes of the collapse.  However, he told the commission he was not in a position to know what had caused the collapse as he had been on leave on the day of the incident in October 2015, when two people died and 19 were injured.  Pretorius did indicate that he regularly received health and safety reports from the construction site.  He declined to answer a question relating to the load the structure could carry, saying he risked incriminating himself and equally would not say who was responsible for inspections on site.  The drawings for the collapsed structure were supplied by FormScaff and Pretorius said his discussions with the company mainly revolved around the ease with which the temporary bridge could be erected and dissembled.  The inquiry set up in terms was Occupational Health and Safety Act was due to resume its work on Thursday.

Based on reports at News24 and The Citizen


Mining-affected communities reject draft Mining Charter

Mining Weekly reports that after two days of deliberation, mining-affected communities have rejected the current draft of the Mining Charter.  This was the outcome after 100 community representatives from several organisations gathered on Monday to consider the latest iteration of the draft charter, which was gazetted last month.  The organisations included Mining Affected Communities United in Action (Macua), Women from Mining Affected Communities United in Action (Wamua) and Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of SA (Mejcon-SA).  The parties resolved that those community representatives invited to the Mining Charter Summit, to be held on 7 and 8 July, should express the collective outcomes of this week’s community conference.  At the centre of its resolution, Macua and Wamua said, was the state’s alleged refusal to include Macua, Wamua and Mejcon in negotiations on the charter despite a court directing it do so.  During the conference this week, the parties said the proposed Mining Charter was “deeply flawed”, with some of the key concerns, for instance the definition of communities, not being specified.  Further, they called for social and labour plan (SLP) budgets to be specified according to an agreed target and to be made transparent, adding that SLPs should include consent from the affected communities.

Read this detailed report in full at Mining Weekly. Read the press statement issued by the mining communities at Polity

Postings on Mining Charter

  • Draft Mining Charter progressive, but still ambiguous, says Bench Marks Foundation, at Mining Weekly


Labour Court dismisses Minister’s urgent bid to stop PSA strike at Sassa, with costs

News24 reports that the Labour Court on Wednesday ordered that the SA Social Security Agency's (Sassa’s) bid to halt a strike by some of its employees be struck off the roll with costs.  On Monday, Minister Susan Shabangu filed an urgent court interdict to halt the action, saying striking employees would disrupt the department's ability to administer the payment of grants.  The court directed the parties to initiate negotiations within seven days and ruled further that:  "The confirmation that the negotiations have started in earnest must be attested by the way of affidavit filed by the applicants with the registrar of this court on or before 12 July 2019."  The Public Servants Association (PSA) was also ordered to call off the strike.  The PSA’s Ivan Fredericks claimed that the court had ruled in their favour, adding that they were "forcing Sassa" to negotiate with workers.  "That's what we wanted and that is what we got."

Read this report by Iavan Pijoos in full at News24

Sassa strike called off after court orders wage talks with PSA to begin

BusinessLive reports that the strike by workers at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has been called off, averting yet another disruption at the crisis-ridden agency.  The Labour Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday issued an order compelling Sassa and the Public Servants Association (PSA), the majority trade union at Sassa, to begin wage talks.  Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu had applied for an urgent court interdict in a bid to stop workers from continuing with the strike.  The judge ordered the parties to start negotiations within seven days in terms of the provisions contained in the Labour Relations Act and the Sassa Act and for the workers to return to work on Thursday.  The PSA had embarked on the action following the agency’s "refusal" to recognise collective bargaining structures and processes, making it impossible for the union to negotiate wages on behalf of its members.  A Sassa spokesman said that the agency would abide by the court decision.  The PSA’s Ivan Fredericks said that although the court ruling vindicated the union, the strike action and the court proceedings could have been averted if Sassa had followed procedure and agreed to negotiate in the Sassa National Bargaining Forum.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Sassa’s troubles go from bad to worse this week, at The Citizen

Solidarity gearing up for strike over Sasol’s new empowerment scheme

Fin24 reports that Solidarity is planning to go ahead with strike action against Sasol over its new empowerment scheme, Sasol Khanyisa.  On Wednesday, the trade union’s deputy CEO Johan Kruger confirmed that it was finalising the mandate for a strike against the energy and chemical company.  In June, the CCMA issued Solidarity with a certificate of non-resolution of a dispute, after having held hearings with both Solidarity and Sasol over a dispute about the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scheme.  The certificate means that the union can embark on a protected strike, by giving Sasol 48 hours’ notice.  Kruger explained that the scheme excluded white employees, and by striking the union hoped to get Sasol to introduce a similar scheme for white employees.  Sasol Khanyisa received the approval of Sasol shareholders, and Kruger said it would be complicated to get shareholders to reverse that decision.  A date for the strike has not yet been set.  Solidarity and Sasol met at the CCMA on Wednesday to establish picketing rules.  The union hopes to rally the support of other members working at other companies because it says the matter is bigger than Sasol.  Solidarity has 6,300 members working at Sasol.  

Read this report by Lameez Omarjee in full at Fin24

Debate rages at SAHRC dialogue over healthcare workers' right to strike

Timeslive reports that the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) hosted a dialogue on Thursday on the balance between the right to access of healthcare and the right of healthcare providers such as nurses to protest.  The dialogue was held to work out the true impact that strikes have on healthcare.  Violent protests calling for the resignation of former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo resulted in a collapse of healthcare in the province.  Hospital staff were barred from accessing patients and performing their duties and lives were reportedly lost as a consequence.  In May‚ healthcare providers at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital went on strike over unpaid bonuses and blockaded gates to the hospital.  Mark Heywood of NGO Section 27 submitted that protest actions by healthcare providers often had long-term ramifications.  “Whatever the cause‚ it’s unlawful and it’s a violation of rights‚” he argued.  Putting North West into perspective‚ Stats SA spokesman Ashwell Jenneker said it was a province with a high rate of dissatisfaction towards public healthcare.  Cassim Lekgoathi of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) noted that when government made an agreement with employees but did not fulfil it‚ the lack of action amounted to provocation.  KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said government ought to not place workers in unfavourable working conditions that could lead to a revolt.

Read this report by Kgaugelo Masweneng in full at Timeslive


Unhappy horse grooms protest about wages ahead of Saturday’s Durban July

BusinessLive reports that three days ahead of the 2018 Vodacom Durban July at Greyville Racecourse, protest action by horse grooms occurred at Summerveld in Shongweni and Ashburton near Pietermaritzburg.  A group of about 600 grooms and others attached to the Summerveld centre assembled near the main gate at 2am on Wednesday, mainly demanding wage increases.  Trainers and jockeys were initially prevented from entering their stable yards, but trainers were later allowed in to feed and water their horses.  A meeting with grooms’ representatives at Summerveld was scheduled for Thursday afternoon, while Ashburton trainers met a deputation of grooms on Wednesday morning and another meeting was scheduled for later.  Trainer Paul Lafferty said:  "Grooms at Summerveld are being paid at least the minimum wage required by law, but there are a few other grievances we need to address."  The leaders of the grooms have threatened to stop trucks from carrying horses to Greyville.  A bumper crowd is expected at the track on Saturday.

Read this report by Charl Pretorius in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Strike threat to racing event off as grooms go back to work, at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Protests over contracts prevent waste collection and disposal services in Tshwane, at Timeslive


Founding president of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union dies

ANA reports that the founding president of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), Petrus Mashishi, has died, the union advised on Wednesday.  General secretary Simon Mathe said 72-year-old Mashishi died at his home in Soweto on Wednesday morning.  Mathe stated:  “Comrade Mashishi was elected Samwu president at its inaugural congress in 1987 following a merger of a number of unions including the Transport and General Workers Union (of) which he was a shop steward of.  Following his election as Samwu president, Comrade Mashishi proceeded to serve the union with diligence and dedication for more than 20 years as its number one shop steward and president.”  He added that Mashishi was loved and respected by municipal workers across the country, which earned him the title of “the union’s man”.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read Samwu’s press statement at Samwu News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Cosatu North West elective conference kicks-off on Wednesday, at The Citizen


Naspers chief Bob van Dijk gets R196m share purchase incentive to stay on

Business Report writes that Naspers chief executive Bob van Dijk has been given an option to buy R196 million in shares at a fixed price of R3 207 a share, the closing price on 25 June, over a period of four years.  The move is seen as an incentive to keep Van Dijk as the chief executive of the group, which has a market capitalisation of about R1.5 trillion.  Van Dijk can buy the stock in four instalments from June 2019 to June 2022, regardless of the share price on those dates.  In the results for the year to the end of March, the group reported a 38% increase year-on-year in revenues, measured on an economic interest basis, including the proportionate contribution from associates and joint ventures, to R275.98bn.  Core headline earnings grew 72%.  The group said businesses outside South Africa contributed 84% of revenue, compared with 80% last year.  Naspers chairperson Koos Bekker said during the results presentation that the group had made good progress during the year.

Read more of this report by Sandile Mchunu at SA Labour News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Pick n Pay CEO gets extension on 1m share bonus scheme, at Moneyweb
  • Brait raises pay for its non-executive directors by 8.02%, at Business Report


Petrol attendants win praise on social media as SA’s ‘nicest service providers’

Timeslive reports that petrol pump attendants have quickly become a favourite among South Africans‚ with many taking to social media to praise their exceptional service.  A simple tweet on Tuesday that “Petrol attendants are the nicest service providers in South Africa” kicked off widespread praise for the men and women at our petrol stations.  By 4.45pm on Wednesday‚ the tweet had received over 5‚000 “likes” and been re-tweeted more than 1‚800 times.  But these unsung heroes aren’t always treated equally – a fact that is often seen in their earnings.  While petrol stations can differ on how much they pay based on individual ownership‚ currently‚ the prescribed minimum wage, set in December 2016, is R1‚126.35 per week.  Depending on which outlet they work for‚ some can even earn up to R9‚000 a month.  Sandile Zwane, an attendant at a garage in Parktown‚ says he loves his job‚ which is why he treats his customers well - even though some aren’t as friendly as he is.  “Especially taxi drivers‚” he said jokingly.  “They are extremely impatient.”  Nonetheless, he generally remains cheerful and keeps a smile on his face when serving customers.

Read this report by Thando Mpembe in full at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Making use of employees as a brand’s best advocate, at Financial Mail


Edcon’s recovery plan includes shutting down chains and focusing on Edgars stores

Bloomberg reports that Edcon Holdings Ltd’s latest recovery plan includes closing chains, including Red Square cosmetics and La Senza lingerie, and attempting to lure their customers to its flagship Edgars clothing stores.  The move is the brainchild of new chief executive officer Grant Pattison.  The company has long struggled to stay afloat amid weak consumer spending and economic growth, and had to be taken over by banks and bondholders in 2016 to avoid collapse.  Edcon will reduce its 1,300-store footprint and cut floor space by 17% over five years to boost profitability, the CEO said Wednesday.  The non-food retailer will focus its attention primarily on Edgars and will also retain discount clothing specialist Jet and its CNA stationery stores, though Boardmans homeware is set for the chop.  “I do think the company can turn.  The quicker we can do this, the better,” Pattison indicated.  Earlier attempts at reviving Edcon included increasing the workforce, slashing prices and introducing international brands.

Read this report by Janice Kew in full at Moneyweb

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Sanef concerned over closure of 'Afro Voice', at EWN


Critics of NHI funded by lobbyists, Cosatu maintains

BusinessLive reports that trade union federation Cosatu has defended the much-commented on National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme‚ saying critics were funded lobbyists.  Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently announced NHI proposals intended to provide universal healthcare for all South Africans.  On Wednesday, Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said NHI critics had no interest in policies that sought to address SA’s inequality crisis.  This came after a group of economists‚ political parties and individuals launched an attack on the NHI Bill and as well as on NHI policy.  Cosatu called on the government not to be distracted by those who were anti-NHI.  The federation also vowed to ensure that the redistribution of resources through the NHI favoured the poor.

Read this report by Nonkululeko Njilo in full at BusinessLive. Read Cosatu’s press statement in this regard at Cosatu News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Will the NHI actually work? at Bhekisisa
  • Funding figures vital for assessing the viability of NHI, at BusinessLive
  • The long walk to NHI for medical aid members, at BusinessLive
  • Massive changes proposed to private medical schemes, at Daily Maverick


SA ranks 26th as most welcoming country for LGBTQI workers

Traveller24 writes that LGBTQI travellers have to take caution when emigrating to or touring in countries where their sexual orientation could put them at risk.  South Africa, however, is one of the countries where they are welcome not only for holidays, but also for permanent relocation.  In the LGBT Worldwide Workplace Index compiled by Silver Swan Recruitment, SA ranked at number 26 in the world for LGBT workers.  The survey covered 75 countries and looked at various factors.  SA scored full marks for Marriage Equality, Sexual Activity Laws and Anti-Discrimination Laws, but received 50% for Gender Identity Protections (when one identifies as a different gender from birth-assigned sex) and Social Media Sentiment.  To compile the Index, the recruitment company reviewed six key factors, namely LGBT laws and rights, LGBT employment laws, minimum wage, unemployment rate, average salary, LGBT-friendliness.  The top country in the LGBT Worldwide Workplace Index was Luxembourg, followed by Australia, New Zealand, Monaco and France.  The five lowest-ranking countries were Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan and Kenya (which was the least welcoming of LGBT workers).

Read this report by Kavitha Pillay and view an infographic at Traveller24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Sexual harassment in the spotlight at Equal Education congress, at GroundUp


Joburg licencing examiner arrested for taking bribe of R5,000 from learner driver

Timeslive reports that a Johannesburg licencing examiner was arrested on Tuesday for taking a R5‚000 bribe from a learner driver.  JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar advised:  “The male suspect who is in his 40s was arrested after members of the Internal Affairs and Corruption Unit received a tip-off that the corrupt examiner took R5‚000 from a learner for a driving licence.”  The incident took place at the Xavier Street Testing Centre, where the arresting officers discovered a test result in the learner’s name without the learner having undergone any test.  The suspect was searched and the R5‚000 was found in his pocket.  He was detained at Booysens police station.

A short report by Nomahlubi Jordaan is at Timeslive


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page