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
Wednesday, 1 August 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Cops swoop on KZN nurse who tried to smuggle two AK47s into Montebello Hospital

Daily News reports that the KwaZulu-Natal Tactical Response Team (TRT), the K9 Unit and Nsuze police officers swooped on the residence of a Montebello Hospital male nurse on Monday and found two AK47 automatic assault rifles.  This followed the 37-year-old nurse’s resistance to be searched at the main entrance of the hospital earlier in the morning.  A hospital employee related that the enrolled nurse at the hospital’s Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB unit employee was carrying a huge bag when he refused to be searched at the gate.  He was denied entrance and was later intercepted whilst trying to gain access to his place of residence, which is not far from the hospital.  A search was conducted and the firearms and 60 rounds of ammunition were found in his possession.  The suspect was immediately arrested and taken to Nsuze police station for detention.  He was due to appear in kwaMaphumulo Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.  It is not clear why the nurse, who had been working at the hospital for over three years, would want to smuggle the guns into the hospital.

Read this report by Chris Ndaliso in full at Daily News

Fatal attack on KNP staffer clouds World Ranger Day celebration

The Citizen writes that it used to be creatures with teeth and poisonous plants that SANParks rangers had to watch out for, but now their most dangerous foes are human predators armed with rifles and a shopping list for environmental contraband.  This point was made during the celebration of World Ranger Day at the Darlington Dam section of Addo National Park in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday.  The event was tinged with sombreness as speakers, including Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Barbara Thomson, remembered SANParks field ranger Respect Mathebula, who was gunned down in Kruger National Park last week.  Mathebula was the first SANParks ranger in more than 50 years to be killed by poachers.  Camdeboo National Park manager Nick van der Walt observed:  “It is war out there.  Rangers today are trained in strategy, managing crime scenes and the technology used at these scenes.  It’s a very different world to when we used to deal with wire traps or theft of wood.”

Read this report by Amanda Watson in full at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Guard murdered for protecting RDP houses from thieves, at Timeslive


MINING LABOUR

De Beers to proceed with closure of Voorspoed mine after failing to find a buyer

BusinessLive reports that De Beers is closing its Voorspoed mine after failing to find a suitable buyer for the 700,000-carats-a-year operation, but the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has stepped in to try and find a buyer before the end of August.  In an effort to sell the open pit mine near Kroonstad in the Free State, letters were sent to more than 50 parties, including the operators of other diamond mines in SA.  "Not one of the four final companies we were speaking to managed to meet all the criteria we set, so we’ve taken the decision to close Voorspoed," said Philip Barton, CEO of De Beers Consolidated Mines, the SA subsidiary of De Beers.  The mine has 386 employees and 500 contractors.  Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe has spoken out strongly against mine closures and operations put into care and maintenance.  Against this backdrop, discussions with the department’s Director-General, Thabo Mokoena, resulted in an agreement that the regulator would run a process to "identify and propose" an operator before the end of August.  Barton was clear that any buyer proposed by the DMR would have to meet the criteria laid down by De Beers.

Read this report by Allan Seccombe in full at BusinessLive. Read De Beers’ press statement at De Beers Group News

Postings on Mining Charter

  • How long-term black ownership is key to SA’s mining success, at BusinessLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Gautrain moves to normalise peak period operations, as Untu strike continues

Fin24 reports that as the indefinite Gautrain strike continued into a third day on Wednesday, management expanded the limited operations and opened the Rosebank station where bus routes will also be operated during peak periods.  The Bombela Operating Company (BOC), which runs the Gautrain, on Tuesday introduced a limited rail service between OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton stations.  According to the contingency plans during the industrial action, during peak periods the rapid rail will run every twelve minutes between Centurion and Sandton; Sandton and Rosebank; and Rosebank and Park Station.  The train between OR Tambo and Sandton (stopping at Rhodesfield) will depart every 36 minutes in peak periods.  There are no trains during off peak periods between Johannesburg and Pretoria, while a bus service will transport commuters between Sandton and the airport during those times.  As of Tuesday evening, there was no word about when negotiations between BOC and the United National Transport Union (Untu) would resume.

Read this report by Tehillah Niselow in full at Fin24


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

SA faces being plunged into darkness as Eskom pay talks hit a wall

The Star reports that electricity users should brace for indeterminate load shedding as wage negotiations between Eskom and its protesting employees hit a brick wall.  Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe conceded that the wildcat industrial action this week was a result of Eskom and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) not reaching an agreement at the Central Bargaining Forum on Friday, when the unions gave feedback on the wage offer that Eskom had tabled two weeks ago.  He indicated that the parties had met and deliberated on the wages and the additional demand for bonuses and they jointly resolved to reconvene this week for further talks.  He added that Eskom had sought the services of the CCMA to facilitate the engagement between the organisation and union leaders to resolve the impasse.  The power utility has since issued a load shedding schedule on its website and municipal platforms.  The NUM is demanding that Eskom pay bonuses for the financial year 2017/18.  Spokesperson, Livhuwani Mammburu said:  “We remain adamant that the bonus payment is a deal breaker.  Without a bonus there will be no agreement as per our members’ mandate.  We demand that Eskom pay the hard-working workers who averted load shedding their bonuses.  As it is reflected in the performance score sheet, workers performed exceptionally well.”

Read more of this The Star report by Siphumelele Khumalo at SA Labour News. Read too, SA faces power cuts as Eskom power units down, at Moneyweb. And also, Has Eskom messed up on the bonus issue? at Moneyweb

Sabotage has nothing to do with Eskom wage talks, says Solidarity

EWN reports that trade union Solidarity said on Tuesday that Eskom and the police should act swiftly against striking Eskom workers who were purposefully sabotaging the running of power stations.  The union’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Dirk Hermann, said that there were factions who damaged infrastructure and threatened the country’s electricity stability under the pretext of wage negotiations.  Yet, Solidarity members who wanted to keep SA’s lights on were intimidated and were even being threatened with violence.  Hermann said that there must be a clear distinction between collective bargaining and criminality.  The first was a legitimate process of power play and the other was criminal and should be prosecuted.  “Eskom, trade unions, the SAPS, and the whole country must have zero tolerance when it comes to criminal elements,” Hermann observed.  Eskom implemented stage one load shedding across parts of Johannesburg on Tuesday due to industrial action by some of its employees

Read this report by Katleho Sekhotho at EWN. Read Solidarity’s press statement at Solidarity News


WAGE AGREEMENTS

Municipal workers get 7% wage rise from July, with extra 0.5% for lowest paid from October

The Citizen reports that the arbitrator in the wage dispute in the municipal sector issued his arbitration award on Tuesday and ruled in favour of the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu).  Effectively, the ruling means that for the current financial year (2018-19) all employees will receive a salary increase of 7% backdated to 1 July 2018; employees earning R9,000 a month or less will receive an additional increase of 0.5% from 1 October 2018; and the minimum wage, the housing allowance and the maximum medical aid employer contribution will also increase by 7%.  Although technically the award is binding on essential services employees only, all parties have already agreed to convert the award into a collective agreement that would cover all employees in the sector.  Imatu said it had already forwarded a draft collective agreement to the other parties (SA Municipal Workers’ Union and the SA Local Government Association) in order to commence the process for concluding the collective agreement.

Read a report by Eric Naki in full at The Citizen. Read Imatu’s press statement at Imatu News. Access the arbitrator’s ruling at here


STAFFING

SANDF withdraws its medical emergency services from the North West

News24 reports that according to SA National Defence Force (SANDF) chief General Solly Shoke, restoring the North West to some normality was a "mission accomplished" and the military would be pulling out of the province with immediate effect.  The South African Military Health Service was deployed to the province in April to reinforce the medical care capacity at the Mahikeng Provincial Hospital.  Shoke said the SANDF would still assist with providing water and sanitation in the province, but its medical emergency services would be withdrawn following the situation having improved.  In April SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said the deployment was as a result of debilitating labour action by workers in the health sector.  The province was hit by unrest in several towns earlier this year, after claims of years of mismanagement by former premier Supra Mahumapelo.  The situation led the national government to placing the province under administration.  Mahumapelo stepped down as premier in May.

Read this report by Jan Bornman in full at News24


WORK PERMITS / MIGRATION

South African scientists, academics, and technology experts targeted under new UK visa

BusinessTech reports that the recent slowdown in migration to the UK from the EU, together with new relaxed visa measures, are expected to create opportunities for non-EU nationals to live and work in the UK.  This is according to immigration consultants Breytenbachs, who said that one such new visa opportunity was the UKRI Science, Research and Academia Scheme.  The scheme opened on 6 July 2018 and would allow scientists, researchers, and academics from outside the EEA to come to the UK for up to two years.  “The aim of this new visa scheme is to encourage the ongoing growth of the research sector in the UK.  The UK Government hopes that the new research visa scheme will make it easier for international researchers to train and work in the UK,” Breytenbachs indicated.  UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will operate the scheme in conjunction with twelve other approved research organisations to directly sponsor highly skilled individuals to work and train in the UK.

Read this report in full at BusinessTech


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Salary index shows South Africans continue to grow poorer

BusinessLive reports that after taking inflation into account, the average South African salary declined by 2.4% in June from the same month in 2017.  It was shown in the monthly report by interbank payment service BankservAfrica on Tuesday that the average take-home pay for formally employed South Africans paid via the national payment system was R14,302 in June in current prices, reduced to R13,593 after stripping out inflation.  "Real take-home pay for June experienced its largest decline since early 2017 owing to rising inflation and the delay of annual salary adjustments and back-pay in the public sector, the leading employer in SA," BankservAfrica indicated.  In current prices, salaries grew 2% over the year while inflation was 4.6%, effectively leaving South Africans 2.4% poorer.  Public sector wage increases backdated to April were only paid in July — so will only appear in next month’s report

A short report by Robert Laing is at BusinessLive. Read too, Salary index shows 'collapse' in real take-home pay, at Fin24. And also, This is the average take-home pay in South Africa right now, at BusinessTech


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION / DISMISSALS

Tom Moyane loses all objections in SARS disciplinary inquiry

BusinessLive reports that suspended SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane has lost all the objections he lodged against the disciplinary inquiry he is facing.  This means the inquiry, as well as the commission of inquiry into governance and administration at SARS, can proceed — unless Moyane takes his objections to court, which he has threatened to do.  The chairman of the inquiry, advocate Azhar Bham, in a written ruling on the objections dismissed the objections.  In light of this he directed Moyane to deliver a “substantive response” to each of the charges he faces by 20 August.  The three main objections related to the right to oral evidence or cross-examination; the admissibility and content of the affidavit by former finance minister Pravin Gordhan in the disciplinary matter; and the “parallel inquiries” in which Moyane is at the centre.  The first objection was dismissed as the terms of reference left it open to Bham to decide upon as the chairperson of the inquiry.  The second was dismissed as Gordhan had the authority to depose the affidavit as a witness.  The third was dismissed as it did not fall within Bham’s “legal competence” to suspend the proceedings.

Read this report by Natasha Marrian in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Victim, villain or pawn: Why Eskom ‘whistle-blower’ Suzanne Daniels was fired, at Daily Maverick


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT SERVICES

Cape Town Metrorail staff thwart attempted train arson attack on Tuesday

Cape Times reports that Cape Town Metrorail staffers managed to stop an attempted arson attack in its tracks on Tuesday.  In what could have been the third devastating incident in a week, someone set fire to a seat in a carriage of a stationary train at the city’s central station.  The attack took place at platform 11, two platforms down from platform 13 when carriages were gutted by fire on Saturday.  "One carriage seat was set alight, and was soon extinguished by Metrorail staff," the City's Fire and Rescue spokesperson Theo Layne said.  Platforms 12 and 13 remained closed for repairs this week.  Up until Tuesday morning, there had been at least seven attacks in six weeks, resulting in damage worth hundreds of millions of rand.

A short report is at Cape Times. See too, Staff put out fire on Cape Town train, at SABC News. And also, Metrorail officials on high alert amid train arson attacks, at EWN

Suspected train arsonist held after fire at Cape Town station

Timeslive reports that police arrested a suspect who attempted to torch a train on Tuesday at Cape Town station.  Metrorail said platforms 13 and 14 had just been reopened‚ following a fire that gutted two carriages on Saturday‚ when the suspect set a carriage seat alight.  If the fire had taken hold and spread it would have been the fourth in a train in the past 11 days.  Employees managed to extinguish the fire before significant damage could be done and police and protection services officials were on the scene almost immediately and managed to detain a suspect.  Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker urged commuters to be vigilant when trains approached stations and to report suspicious activity or the smell of accelerants to station or security staff.  Last week‚ the United National Transport Union described the fires as “blatant sabotage”.  The ANC in the Western Cape called on commuters to partner with law enforcement officials to form arson watch programmes.

Read this report by Philani Nombembe in full at Timeslive. See too, Suspect in latest Metrorail train fire arrested in Cape Town, at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Commuters feel the pinch as taxi fares increase, eNCA
  • Taxi fares to increase by as much as R20, at The Citizen

 


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