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, 6 July 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Two guards shot dead on Friday in cash-in-transit heist in Eastern Cape

News24 reports that two SBV security guards were shot dead on Friday during a cash-in-transit robbery in Tsolo, Eastern Cape.  A police spokesperson said the guards were loading money at an ATM machine near a supermarket when a group of armed men pounced on them.  The guards were fatally wounded and the suspects fled with an undisclosed amount of money in a hijacked van.  No arrests had been made as of Friday evening.  Meanwhile, police officials on Friday said the implementation of the SA Police Service's nationwide stabilisation programme to reduce crime was paying off as the incidents of cash-in-transit robberies reduced significantly by 61% in June, compared to May, and dozens of alleged robbers have been arrested.

A short report by Sesona Ngqakamba is at News24

Lower June cash-in-transit statistics no comfort for the future, says Fidelity

News24 reports that security company Fidelity says that despite figures indicating a reduction in cash-in-transit incidents during the month of June, it could be a different story for July.  "This week alone, there have been four cross pavement incidents and three vehicle attacks – one of these occurred in the Eastern Cape and two in Bloemfontein which is worrying as the crime could simply be dispersing into other areas," said Wahl Bartmann, CEO of Fidelity Security Group, on Saturday.  In the latest incident, two SBV security guards were shot dead during a cash-in-transit robbery in Tsolo, Eastern Cape on Friday.  Bartmann said it was essential that cash-in-transit attacks continued to be treated as priority crime.  In a statement on Friday, police officials welcomed the reduction in the June figures of cash-in-transit robberies, saying the implementation of the SA Police Service's nationwide stabilisation programme was paying off.  More than 40 suspects have been arrested since 4 June.  National police commissioner General Khehla Sitole acknowledged that the security officials were "putting their lives on [the] line on a daily basis to protect the valuable cargo they transport" and should be commended for their efforts.

Read this report by Vanessa Banton in full at News24. See too, R1m reward for info on Eastern Cape cash-in-transit heist, at News24

Tshwane metro cop amongst 23 arrested for cash-in-transit crimes

News24 reports that a female Tshwane metro police officer is among 23 people arrested last week for various crimes related to cash-in-transit heists.  SA Police Service (SAPS) spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo said on Sunday:  “[On Friday], the team, acting on intelligence, arrested … a 32-year-old man and his girlfriend, for the May Boksburg CIT [cash-in-transit] robbery where two armoured vehicles were targeted.  The girlfriend, a Tshwane Metro Police Officer, is alleged to have been storing the weapons that were used during the attack of two CIT vehicles in Boksburg.”  A rifle, magazine and several rounds of ammunition were recovered, and a Toyota Quantum, which was believed to be a cash purchase, was confiscated.  Naidoo said that the metro cop’s boyfriend was believed to be linked to several cash-in-transit robberies in the country.  In another arrest on Friday, linked to the same cash-in-transit heist which took place in May in Boksburg, a 42-year-old illegal immigrant was arrested in Wonderboom.

Read this report in full at News24. Read too, Tshwane cop among 23 arrested for cash-in-transit heist-related crimes, at EWN

Fedusa condemns hijacking of Prasa chair, exhorts board not to be distracted by criminality

News24 reports that the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) has condemned the hijacking and kidnapping of Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) board chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama, adding that the board must not be distracted by acts of criminality.  Kweyama was pepper-sprayed and bundled into the boot of her car, before being driven around for at least three hours on Thursday evening.  Her vehicle was abandoned in Katlehong and she emerged physically unharmed from the incident.  In a statement on Sunday, Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said he hoped Kweyama would be back in office soon to continue her invaluable job of cleaning up the parastatal.  “We want a board that will not be intimidated and distracted by such acts of senseless criminality and only focus on fully committing itself to confronting the challenges facing Prasa and introduce specific measures aimed at improving customer service and good corporate governance, underpinned by monitoring and accountability,” said George.

Read this report by Alex Mitchley in full at News24. Read Fedusa’s press statement at SA Labour News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Trio who killed Inanda cop in 2015 to spend life in prison, at Sunday Tribune
  • Communities urged to help bring perpetrators of cop killings to book, at SABC News
  • Man crushed to death by truck in Johannesburg on London Road, at News24
  • Armed gang ties up workers, ransacks safes at Observatory, Cape Town, Pick n Pay on Friday, at News24
  • Department of Labour’s Grayston bridge collapse inquiry to resume on Monday, at SABC News


MINING LABOUR

Occupational disease prevention campaign launched by Rand Mutual and other institutions

Mining Weekly reports that workplace health and safety compensation funds Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA), Federated Employer’s Mutual Assurance Company and the Department of Labour Compensation Fund on Thursday launched the Occupational Disease Prevention Campaign.  Also part of the launch in Ekurhuleni was the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).  The campaign aims to shift workplace safety from compensation towards a prevention-first culture and aims to be in line with international trends, such as the concept of zero harm to workers that was agreed to by a number of countries during the 2017 global health and safety conference.  “The Vision Zero concept is based on the acceptance that all workplace injuries are preventable and that we can work productively, while causing zero harm,” Labour Deputy Minister Phathekile Holomisahe stated.  DMR Deputy Minister Godfrey Oliphant, emphasised the importance of collaboration among workers, employers, worker organisations, compensation funds and government departments to effectively tackle workplace safety.  The campaign kicked off with a focus on preventing noise-induced hearing loss, which is 100% preventable but constitutes 86% of the claims submitted to compensation funds in SA.  

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly

Revival of Lily and Barbrook mines at risk if claims of illegal mining are proven

Mail & Guardian reports that just months after clinching a deal to revive the Lily Mine in Mpumalanga, Vantage Goldfields now faces claims that it was acting negligently while the mine was under care and maintenance.  Allegations have been made in a liquidation application by Dwaine Koch, a representative of the creditors of Barbrook, that illegal mining had been going on at Lily Mine and at the neighbouring Barbrook Mine.  The creditors are seeking to liquidate Vantage, which owns both mines.  The application includes claims that the illegal mining of underground pillars has been taking place at the shuttered Lily Mine.  Such activity could risk a pillar collapse similar to the February 2016 tragedy in which three workers died after being trapped in a metal container being used as an office.  This led to the mine being closed and Vantage Goldfields being placed in business rescue.  The creditors also claim that gold-bearing material is being sold from Barbrook without the knowledge of the Department of Mineral Resources.  In April, business rescue practitioner Rob Devereux secured a breakthrough of a R190m loan from the Industrial Development Corporation and an agreement with the Siyakhula Sonke Corporation to buy out all Vantage Goldfields’ shares for R10-million.  Siyakhula’s chief executive, Fred Arendse, has accused Koch of trying to undermine the deal so that liquidation can go ahead and the company shares can be sold off cheaply.

Read this report by Govan Whittles in full at Mail & Guardian

Mantashe extends deadline for Mining Charter consultations to end of August

Fin24 reports that public consultations on the draft revision of the Mining Charter have been extended to the end of August to allow further engagements.  Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday at the end of a two-day mining summit in Boksburg that the extension had been a request during the meeting to give all the stakeholder more time to air their views.  Mantashe rejected suggestions that the extended period would derail the finalisation of the Charter.  The Charter is now projected to be finalised by October or November 2018.  Some of the contentious issues that were discussed at the summit included the 10% free-carried interest on new mining rights to be allocated to communities and mine workers, as well as the "once empowered, always empowered" clause.  “All sections of the Charter were discussed thoroughly, the 'once empowered, always empowered' provision was rejected by everybody,” commented Mantashe.

Read this report by Sibongile Khumalo in full at Fin24. See too, Trade unions say Mining Charter must be used to hold mining bosses accountable, at EWN

Other postings on Mining Charter

  • Gwede Mantashe says mining charter process will not be restarted from scratch, at BusinessLive
  • Mines on care and maintenance are bad for the economy, says Mantashe, at BusinessLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Members of three unions striking at SA Post Office and Telkom

eNCA reported on Saturday that SA Post Office (Sapo) and Telkom workers belonging to three unions were on strike across the country.  Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), the SA Communication Union (Sacu) and the Democratic Postal and Communications Union have embarked on a nationwide strike, demanding 12% salary increases from both entities and claiming that they have been fighting for a wage increase for a number of years.  The first day of the strike had a major impact on social grant beneficiaries, with the new payment distributor being the Post Office.  “We are looking at other measures to make sure the poor aren’t compromised because of the dispute we have with the employer,” said Aubrey Tshabalala of the CWU.  The unions will await Monday to see what both Telkom and the Post Office bring to the table before they continue with their nationwide strike.

Read this report in full at eNCA. Read too, CWU calls for government intervention in Post Office, Telkom workers’ strike, at EWN. And also, Telkom, Post Office workers down tools as wage negotiations deadlock, at SABC News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Post Office offers 6% wage increase after workers embark on strike action, at City Press


ESKOM WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Eskom twice ups its wage offer on Friday to take it to 7%

BusinessLive reports that having earlier on Friday increased its wage offer from 6.2% to 6.7%, which unions NUM and Numsa rejected, Eskom increased its wage offer for the second time on Friday to 7% for 2018.  It maintained its 6% offer for 2019-20.  NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu confirmed the 7% offer in a text message on Friday.  Eskom is under pressure to appease the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity following a strike threat by the NUM if it failed to meet the union’s 9% wage demand.  Apart from wages, Eskom rejected the proposal of a R1,000 housing allowance and 12% of workers’ annual income as a once-off bonus.  Negotiations were expected to continue until late on Friday, with a special central bargaining forum meeting scheduled in case of a deadlock.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Eskom raises wage offer to 7%, says NUM, at Fin24

Unions reject Eskom’s revised 7% offer, 8% in the frame for next talks on Tuesday

SABC News reports that unions at Eskom have said that the next round of wage talks with the power utility scheduled for Tuesday would be critical in determining whether a deal was possible or not.  Eskom upped its wage offer to 7% on Friday, which was rejected by unions, which had also turned down an earlier revised offer of 6.7%.  William Mabapa of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said:  “We are not taking anything to the members because we didn’t finish the discussions.  The venue was booked for other activities.  But during the discussions I can confirm that Eskom gave us a revised offer of 7 percent that we have rejected.”  EWN reports that Irvin Jim of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) commented:  “As unions we can’t sell-out our members.  We’ve taken a very firm stance.  From where we’re sitting, these negotiations can be settled.  Eskom must go back and secure a mandate, so they can give us an extra 1%, which will be 8%.”

Based on reports at SABC News and EWN

Struggling Eskom splurges on ‘fleet cards’ for executives to run their cars

BL Premium reports that cash-strapped Eskom, which is embroiled in a bruising wage dispute with its unions, has been paying almost R600,000 a month for its executives to run their cars.  Officials from the level of GM upwards are provided with "fleet cards", giving them unlimited free fuel.  Eskom also picks up the tab for their toll fees and maintenance costs.  The power utility confirmed on Thursday that 115 GMs and executives benefited from the scheme, which had cost R596,625.54 in May.  Asked if it would reconsider the transport perk given its financial difficulties, Eskom said that "employee benefits are not the only focus in our quest towards financial sustainability", and added it was looking at all drivers of costs.  Two independent sources at Eskom, claimed that Eskom managers routinely abused the perk for private travel.  "That’s why they all drive Range Rovers.  You don’t have to pay for petrol," said one.  While there was a business reason for the travel allowance, the system was open to abuse, other sources said.  Another manager at the utility said he was concerned that "Eskom wants to retrench people, but they are not going after low-hanging fruit", such as the fleet card.

Read this report by Stephan Hofstatter in full at BL Premium (paywall access)


PROTESTS / MARCHES / CAMPAIGNS

PSA cancels Durban July protest on learning Markus Jooste has no horses running

BusinessLive reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) last week withdrew a protest threat after receiving an assurance that Markus Jooste’s horses would not be not running in the Durban July.  It simultaneously discovered that none of his horses were currently registered.  The union had last week sent letters to the regulating body‚ the National Horseracing Authority‚ and Vodacom, the race’s main sponsor‚ demanding the exclusion of the former Steinhoff CEO’s horses from the event‚ "which could earn him millions should horses registered in his colours partake in the race".  Jooste resigned as Steinhoff CEO amid serious questions about accounting practices at the company, which led to the retail giant’s share price being decimated.  To the union’s chagrin, public servants’ pensions were invested in Steinhoff through the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).

Read the original of this report in full at BusinessLive. Read the PSA’s press statement in this regard at SA Labour News


PRICES / TARIFFS

Ramaphosa gives ministers two weeks for plan to ease consumer pain over VAT, fuel price hikes

News24Wire reports that government will in two weeks’ time announce a package of economic measures to cushion the public from the crippling effects of high fuel price hikes and the recent VAT increase.  President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday that a panel made up of various stakeholders from the economic cluster had been tasked with drafting the package.  He said government acknowledged that the people were reeling from the effects of fuel price increases.  “We will be announcing a package of measures to ease the burden of the price increase, this would include the finalisation of the VAT exempt products,” Ramaphosa indicated.  He urged retailers and the transport sector to hold off price increases while the plan was being drafted.  The Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, said the panel had met on Thursday night and was due to meet again on Friday.  He commented:  “I think everyone realises that the people are suffering, therefore there is a need to address the matter with urgency.”

Read this report in full at Engineering News


APPOINTMENTS / RECRUITMENT / STAFFING / VACANCIES

Durban Mayor’s helper with no qualifications rakes in R50,000 a month

Sunday Tribune reports that a woman described as “the mayor’s helper” is at the centre of an investigation after it emerged that she did not have the relevant qualifications or experience to take up a senior manager’s post at the eThekwini Municipality.  Thabisile Ncayiyane, who was allegedly employed as a domestic worker, was appointed on 25 December 2016 with a R50,000 monthly salary on a T17 grading equivalent to that of a senior manager.  Two highly placed sources alleged that Ncayiyane’s duty was to attend to mayor Zandile Gumede’s needs and was apparently often seen carrying the mayor’s handbag at events.  But, they indicated that she had been shuffled to other units within the municipality after questions were raised by fellow employees about her qualifications and appointment.  Mayoral spokesperson Mthunzi Gumede said there was no such person in Gumede’s office, but could not confirm if she worked elsewhere within the municipality.  He did concede that an offer of employment was made to Ncayiyane, and said she had turned it down.  Ncayiyane’s case is not the only high level investigation currently underway in the city.  An investigation into more than 7,000 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) ghost employees is apparently also underway.  A leaked report reveals that more than double the usual EPWP salaries was paid to the ghost employees.

Read this report by Nabeelah Shaikh and Siphelele Buthelezi in full at Sunday Tribune

Embattled Eskom appoints new chief operating officer

BusinessLive reports that state-owned power utility Eskom announced on Friday that it had appointed Jan Oberholzer as its chief operating officer.  Oberholzer will be part of a three-person team that will also include CEO Phakamani Hadebe and a yet to be appointed chief financial officer.  Hadebe was made permanent CEO in May and Oberholzer’s appointment is said to be another step in Eskom’s bid to strengthen governance and entice investors back.  A chief financial officer will apparently be appointed in the coming weeks.  Oberholzer has spent 24 of his 38 years of work experience at Eskom, holding various positions, including that of chief operating officer of its distribution division.  Most recently, he successfully led the improvement of a number of hydro-power plants in Zambia.  But, Oberholzer has a formidable task ahead as, last month, the financially embattled utility reinstated load shedding amid labour unrest, low coal stocks, and increased winter demand.

Read this report by Lisa Steyn in full at BusinessLive


EMPLOYMENT EQUITY / AFFIRMATIVE ACTION / EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

ConCourt rules against discriminatory policy for appointing insolvency practitioners in estates

BusinessLive reports that the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruled on Thursday that the justice minister’s transformation appointment policy for insolvency practitioners in estates was irrational, discriminatory and unlikely to achieve equality.  Justice Minister Michael Masutha, his department and the chief master of the high court had appealed against a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that the policy, which was implemented in 2014, was irrational.  Trade union Solidarity had earlier applied in the High Court in Cape Town to have the policy declared unconstitutional.  That court found that it failed to meet the requirements of "restitutionary measure" under the Constitution and that it was "irrational".  Insolvency practitioners were grouped in race categories and appointed alphabetically.  The ConCourt’s majority ruling dismissed the appeal with costs.  Solidarity’s head of labour law, Anton van der Bijl, said the ruling confirmed the union’s argument that the policy constituted "naked racism".  He commented:  "This policy, which was aimed at promoting race and gender representativity in this profession, amounted to inadmissible and unconstitutional quotas, which the Constitution prohibited."

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News. Read the ConCourt’s ruling in full at Politicsweb


BASIC EDUCATION

July school holidays not extended due to Mandela Day

Netwerk24 reports that the July school holidays have not been extended and schools will reopen on 17 July as planned.  This assurance was given by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on Sunday after a rumour was widely circulated on social media that schools would only reopen on 19 July.  According to the false reports, the Presidency had issued an announcement to indicate that, due to activities that were planned for Mandela Day on 18 July, the school holidays had been extended.  The DBE pointed out that the school calendar had been finalised two years ago and nothing had changed in the interim.  It was said that no announcement whatsoever had been issued by the Presidency. (Loosely translated from Afrikaans)

Read this report by Cara-Lee Dorfling in full in Afrikaans at Netwerk24 (limit on free access)

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page