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
Monday, 9 July 2018.


MINING LABOUR

With 2,500 job cuts not enough, more layoffs could come at Impala Platinum

Bloomberg writes that Impala Platinum (Implats) is facing some tough choices as the platinum producer works to stem losses at aging shafts amid slumping prices for the metal.  The miner has already cut 2,500 jobs in the year through June and says there may be more to come.  Only three of the ten shafts at its Rustenburg mining complex were making money as of March and things have only gotten worse since then, with platinum prices dropping another 9% and hitting a nine-year low last week.  Implats will announce the results of a strategic review of Rustenburg in September, said spokesperson Johan Theron.  The challenges facing the industry meant the miner could not discount the possibility of more job losses, he said, adding that the company had initiated a so-called ‘Section 189’ retrenchment process.  Implats employs about 31,000 people at its Rustenburg operations.  It isn’t the only one facing difficulties, with about half of the industry’s production estimated to be unprofitable.  Lonmin is cutting 12,600 jobs over three years and its future hinges on the speedy approval of a merger deal with Sibanye Gold.  Yet, Anglo American Platinum is in a better position than its counterparts after exiting high-cost assets.

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Ex-mineworkers heed Labour’s call to register for unclaimed benefits, at Department of Labour News
  • Sasol develops new strategies to prevent fatalities at operations, at SABC News

INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Lockout of striking Fawu members at Parmalat

Landbou reports that since 27 June some 700 employees of the dairy processing company Parmalat have been locked-out of the company’s premises in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.  This has come after members of the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) commenced a protected wage strike.  Union members in Gauteng are not participating in the industrial action.  Chris Vermeulen, the company’s HR executive director, said the lock-out would last until the strike was officially over.  The dispute between the parties revolves around wage increases, as well as the determination of employees’ annual and monthly long-term incentives bonuses.  Parmalat has apparently offered wage increases of 7.3%.  The union originally demanded 12%, which was reduced to 9% and then to 7.5% (back paid to 1 May, with an additional 0.5% from 1 July).  Parmalat rejected the union’s latest position.  The dispute over incentive bonuses revolves around what applies to unskilled and semi-skilled employees in relation to employees on higher grades. (Loosely translated from Afrikaans)

Read this report by Nan Smith in full in Afrikaans at Netwerk24 (limit on free access)

CWU upbeat on wage talks with Post Office, awaits response from Telkom

The Citizen reports that the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which is leading a countrywide strike at the SA Post Office (Sapo) and at Telkom, is confident about breaking the wage increase deadlock with Sapo.  Talks to be held on Monday will be facilitated by the CCMA.  “We are positive about reaching a settlement with Sapo, especially when one looks at the impact this is having on poor people who receive Sassa grants through the post office,” said the CWU’s Aubrey Tshabalala.  Sapo has offered a 6% wage increase, while the CWU, joined by the Democratic Postal and Communications Union and the SA Communication Union, are demanding 12%.  “Picketing and work stoppages will continue across the country until Tuesday, when we will be reporting back to our members on the outcome of the talks,” Tshabalala said.  Meanwhile, Telkom said the strike had affected its Openserve subsidiary, with technicians unable to service certain areas due to the industrial action.  While Telkom has offered employees a 3% increase, the CWU is demanding 12%.  The union has given Telkom until Monday to respond to its wage increase demand.

Read this report by Brian Sokutu in full at The Citizen. Read too, Post Office strike halts payment to grant beneficiaries, at Engineering News

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Numsa hopeful of resolution on Tuesday of wage dispute with Eskom

EWN reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) says it’s hopeful that labour unions can resolve the ongoing wage dispute with Eskom when negotiations resume on Tuesday.  The state-owned power utility is currently offering a 7% salary increase for this year and 6% for the next two years.  Numsa, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity are demanding an 8% hike this year and 8.5% for the next two years.  Earlier on Monday, Jim said demonstrations could be expected at some substations and offices countrywide.  He indicated:  “We are back at work.  You’ll remember that were picketing and everybody agreed that we should normalise and go back.  I think here and there, there will be workers who are picketing but I mean that’s not affecting production.”

A short report by Kgomotso Modise is at EWN

BARGAINING COUNCILS

Collective bargaining under threat with bus companies’ challenges to legality of agreement

BusinessLive reports that some of the five companies that have applied to be exempted from complying with the recent bus sector wage agreement want the agreement declared unlawful, unfair and unconstitutional.  In May following a 26-day strike, the companies agreed that workers would receive a 9% wage hike in 2018 and 8% in 2019.  Since then, Algoa, Golden Arrow, Putco, Amogelang and Phumatra Transport Enterprise have requested the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (Sarpbac) to exclude them from some of the agreement’s terms.  Although some companies have said financial difficulties have prevented them from paying higher salaries, others said in their applications that the deal was unlawful and unfair.  Apparently some company representatives have even threatened to challenge the agreement in the Constitutional Court.  Unions and council members have been angered by the claims, describing them as "attacks" on not only the agreement but the entire collective bargaining process.  This was because the companies were party to the wage talks and signatories to the wage deal.  Fears have been expressed that if these developments were not handled with care, they could not only collapse the bus sector collective bargaining, but set the tone for other industries.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read too Business Day’s editorial that ‘Bus groups put collective bargaining system to the test’, at BusinessLive

LABOUR AND POLITICS

ANC and alliance partners hold first political council since Ramaphosa’s election

BusinessLive reports that the ANC and its alliance partners were due on Monday to hold their first political council since the election of President Cyril Ramaphosa as governing party president.  The met on Monday.  On the agenda for the meeting between the ANC, labour federation Cosatu, the SA Communist Party (SACP) and the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) was the state of the alliance, strengthening relations among the partners, working to strengthen each component and the state of the economy.  Cosatu and the SACP have called for the reconfiguration of the alliance.  Both backed Ramaphosa in 2017’s ANC succession race and called on former president Jacob Zuma to step down or be removed.  At its 14th congress in July 2017, the SACP resolved that it would contest the next elections.

Read this report by Genevieve Quintal in full at BusinessLive

RESTRUCTURING / BUSINESS RESCUE

SAA seeks to reassure Solidarity with comprehensive written undertakings

ANA reports that on Monday Solidarity said that at a press conference on Tuesday it would reveal the extensive written undertakings it has received from South African Airways (SAA).  According to the trade union, these undertakings have come as a result of its intention to bring an application to the courts to have embattled national carrier placed under business rescue.  Dr Dirk Hermann, Solidarity’s chief executive, said the union had made a number of demands during talks with SAA chief executive Vuyani Jarana and some of the undertakings have major strategic implications for SAA.  At its press conference, Solidarity will release a summary of its court application of more than a thousand pages.  The way forward will also be discussed as far as the business rescue application is concerned.

This short report is at The Citizen

VR Laser to wind down as business rescue fails

City Press reports that creditors last week voted for a controlled piecemeal winding down under the direction of rescue practitioners of VR Laser Services, one of eight Gupta family-owned companies under business rescue.  The premises have been gutted, according to the company’s recently departed financial manager Claire Tomsett.  In a scathing email addressed to VR Laser managers, business rescue practitioners and Irvin Jim of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, she wrote that the company “most definitely has no prospects of coming out of its current state”.  VR Laser’s employees have not been paid for three months, but instead of getting retrenched so they could at least collect unemployment insurance, they have all just been sent home unpaid.  “It is absolutely ludicrous that people must continue to accumulate their income yet not receive it while sitting at home (if they still have the luxury of having one).  I firmly believe that everyone should be placed on forced retrenchment to not only enable them to collect UIF, which they desperately need, but also to stop the costs accumulating for the staff,” said Tomsett.  The business rescue of VR Laser has dragged on without resolution for the past few weeks due to ‘strange’ last-minute offers to save it.

Read this report by Dewald Van Rensburg in full at Fin24

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING / QUALIFICATIONS

Millions wasted as Zuma’s ‘War on Leaks’ artisan project flops

The Star reports that hundreds of aspiring artisans, let down by the Department of Water and Sanitation under its former minister Nomvula Mokonyane, fear they will leave a bungled skills project empty handed next month.  After three years in the R3bn ‘War on Leaks’ programme, contracts for the youth languishing at home are due to lapse next month.  They are bracing themselves to leave the programme with nothing to show for it.  The programme was designed to turn them into qualified artisans.  Former president Jacob Zuma launched the project in 2015, saying it would produce 15,000 qualified artisans over three years.  The young people poised to leave the programme with no qualifications are the so-called phase one trainees, who started in 2015.  They should have been placed for practicals at municipalities or private companies after completing their theoretical training in July 2016 and before writing their trade tests.  But the department’s failure to secure placements saw the participants drawing their monthly stipends, ranging between R2,000 and R2,500, while languishing at home.  A spokesperson for the department said the trainees' contracts were being considered for extension.  According to the department, there were 106 unplaced trainees, most of them in Gauteng.

Read this report by Bongani Nkosi in full at The Star

Cleaners and porters at Eastern Cape hospital qualify as nurses

SowetanLive reports that for Phathiswa Sotyantsi there was no greater feeling than walking into Stutterheim Hospital no longer as a cleaner, but clad in a nurse’s white uniform.  Last week the 50-year-old mother of four and 18 other cleaners and six porters graduated through Lilitha Nursing College for nursing posts in the Department of Health.  Studying while employed full-time was no mean feat, but graduating on Wednesday was all the more special because they went back to work in new positions.  "I used to watch the nurses in the wards and I wished that was me.  Now it is me.  I am very proud of myself and I am grateful to my family for all their support," Sotyantsi said.  Eastern Cape Health MEC Helen Sauls-August congratulated all the nurses who graduated last week, particularly those who were caregivers and general assistants in their facilities.  Provincial health spokesman Lwandile Sicwetsha said:  "The department is proud that its effort to upscale and train general staff is producing positive results.  The new acquired knowledge will also alleviate staff shortages in those facilities.  This should motivate all other general workers to seize such opportunities afforded by the department."

Read this report by Siya Tsewu in full at SowetanLive. Read too, Eastern Cape cleaners and porters graduate as nurses, at SABC News

CORRUPTION / CRIME

Police arrest 23 in cash-in-transit heist swoop over weekend

Timeslive reports that police have claimed a big breakthrough in cash-in-transit heists‚ smashing a syndicate and arresting 23 people in raids across Pretoria and Johannesburg.  Those arrested‚ who included three women‚ have been linked to two attempted cash heists and a heist which occurred in Gauteng last week.  They have also been linked to heists which occurred across SA earlier this year.  The latest arrests bring the number of suspected cash heist robbers caught since May to 50.  This weekend’s operation‚ which began on Friday night‚ involved simultaneous raids on homes in Soweto‚ Wonderboom and Soshanguve.  It involved officers from the Special Task Force‚ Crime Intelligence‚ National Intervention Unit and SAPS detectives.  The operations began after police intelligence officers received information on the location of two suspects who were linked to two heists in Boksburg in May.  National police commissioner General Khehla Sithole vowed that operations to catch those behind violent robberies‚ heists and hijackings — "which instill fear in citizens" — will continue.

Read this report by Graeme Hosken in full at BusinessLive

SEXUAL HARASSMENT / WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

Manana’s former domestic worker to submit fresh affidavit on alleged assault

EWN reports that Mduduzi Manana's former domestic worker is to apparently submit a fresh affidavit this week detailing how the ANC Member of Parliament allegedly assaulted her.  Christine Wiro opened a case against Manana at the Douglasdale Police Station two months ago, accusing the MP of pushing her down the stairs and threatening to deport her to Zimbabwe.  He apparently offered her R100,000 to withdraw the matter.  Manana has denied the claims and has since opened a criminal case against Wiro for allegedly trying to extort money out of him.  According to the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), which is supporting Wiro with legal advice, the police’s investigation into Manana’s assault case is nearing its end and, after Wiro has given police the new statement, the docket will be sent to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for a decision.

Read this report by Mia Lindeque in full at EWN. Read too, Manana's alleged victim Christine Wiro 'does not want any handout', at Timeslive

 


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