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, 2 August 2018.


TOP STORY – MANUFACTURING JOBS

'Uncontrollable' fuel and energy costs added to jobs losses, says Seifsa

Fin24 reports that the loss of 105,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector in the second quarter of 2018 highlighted subdued domestic demand for industry, and uncertainty over global growth.  This was said by Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) chief economist Michael Ade.  He indicated that local manufacturing companies were operating with excess capacity and at sub-optimum production levels, as they tried to minimise input costs, including "uncontrollable fuel and energy costs".  The official unemployment rate rose to 27.2% in the second quarter of 2018, mostly on the back of the manufacturing and services sectors shedding jobs.  Despite adding 58,000 jobs in the first quarter, manufacturing has been under pressure for some time.  It contributed to negative GDP growth of 2.2% in the first quarter of 2018, with the sector contracting by 6.4%.  Seifsa said it was now shifting its focus to the upcoming jobs summit, with the solution to unemployment not only resting with government.  "Accordingly, opportunity-driven (rather than necessity-driven) entrepreneurship should be encouraged since it caters largely for sustainable informal employment,” Ade said.  A date for the jobs summit has yet to be finalised.  Parties at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) believe it will be held between mid- and end September.

Read this report by Tehillah Niselow in full at Fin24

As it bleeds jobs, manufacturing sector concerned about its future

BusinessLive reports that as the manufacturing sector bleeds jobs, factory owners are worried about its future.  This comes as employment statistics released on Tuesday showed that the sector lost 55,000 jobs year-on-year in the second quarter.  The seasonally adjusted Absa purchasing managers index (PMI), which gauges activity in the manufacturing sector and is usually a good indicator of where the production numbers will head in two months, pointed to a grim view for the rest of 2018.  Unresolved trade disputes between the US and its major trading partners, continued domestic political uncertainty, higher fuel prices and the intermittent return of power interruptions would weigh on business conditions in the manufacturing sector in coming months, said NKC analyst Gerrit van Rooyen.  Manufacturing Circle executive director Philippa Rodseth said:  "We continue to motivate the importance of the sector as a leading contributor to economic growth, but we still have a long way to go and we are not going to see immediate changes overnight."  While still a heavy hitter, the sector has shrunk substantially in recent years.  Since the early 1980s, manufacturing’s contribution to GDP dropped from 24% to less than 13% in 2018.

Read this report by Sunita Menon in full at BusinessLive

Trade and Industry at odds with Treasury over Employment Creation Fund

BusinessLive reports that hundreds of millions of rand meant for beneficiaries of the Employment Creation Fund (ECF) have not been disbursed, allegedly because of a dispute between the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).  Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, whose department administers the fund intended for business support, said in a reply to a parliamentary question that the balance due to ECF projects was R508.8m.  "There are 31 projects that are in progress and will be completed once funds have been received from National Treasury," Davies indicated.  In a letter sent to fund beneficiaries late in July, department fund manager Paseka Masemula suggested that Treasury officials were holding back economic development and told fund beneficiaries that the ECF secretariat "are not confident that you are going to get your money any time soon, if ever".  He outlined the background to the dispute, which dates back to December 2016, saying it arose from the Treasury’s demand for an audit of the entire fund from inception.  He indicated a wish for the department to give up the programme altogether as the Treasury had not even provided funds for day-to-day administration, which has had been paid for out of the department’s budget.  SA’s unemployment rate is now at 27.2%.

Read this report by Linda Ensor in full at BusinessLive


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Uber partners with Chubb to cover SA drivers for death or injury

BusinessLive reports that Uber is partnering with security and insurance company Chubb to cover its South African drivers in case of death or injury.  The arrival of Uber in SA cities from 2013 has sparked several, often violent, protests and attacks by drivers of metered taxis.  A number of Uber drivers have been killed in hijacking incidents and taxi violence.  Uber driver-partners and Uber Eats delivery-partners will now be covered from the moment they accept a trip or delivery request‚ while driving to pick up a passenger, or on the way to a restaurant‚ until the trip ends.  The company said this was an important step in addressing some of the biggest concerns raised by Uber’s independent partners who relied on Uber’s app.  The cover will also provide assistance and legal representation to drivers and other third parties‚ with their claims being submitted to the Road Accident Fund at no additional cost to themselves.  In an event of an accident or a crime-related incident resulting in an injury during a trip‚ drivers and delivery-partners will also have access to emergency medical treatment‚ death payments and permanent disability payments.

Read this report by Ernest Mabuza in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • UCT cardiologist and faculty dean Bongani Mayosi to receive special official funeral, at BusinessLive
  • Death of UCT's professor Mayosi shows need for black professionals to unite, says BMF, at Fin24


MINING LABOUR

Impala Platinum to cut 13,000 jobs within two years in sweeping overhaul

BusinessLive reports that Impala Platinum (Implats) is cutting its future production to 520,000oz of platinum and slashing the number of its mines to six from 11, with 13,000 jobs to go within two years.  Implats is the latest mining company to announce a major restructuring, shaft closures and job cuts to cope with a high-cost environment, and, in the platinum sector, a largely stagnant price for its primary metal, platinum.  “In a phased approach, operations will therefore cease at Impala Rustenburg’s endoflife and uneconomic shafts, with future mining activity focused on profitable, lower-cost, highvalue, and longerlife assets,” the company said.  The restructuring will cost R2.7bn during 2019 and 2020, and will be funded from internal cash resources as well as selling inventories.  Implats presently employs 40,000 people.  It could consider selling some of the shafts it is planning to close, said CEO Nico Muller.  He added:  “While employee rationalisation is inevitable in a restructuring process of this nature, due care will be taken to ensure that job losses are minimised as far as possible through a range of job-loss avoidance measures.”

Read this report by Allan Seccombe in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Implats to shed 13,000 jobs over two years, at Mining Weekly

Mineral resources minister says Implats job cuts ‘reckless’ and ‘arrogant’

Reuters reports that Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe, has urged platinum producer Impala Platinum to reconsider its plans to slash its workforce by a third over two years, calling the firm’s actions “careless”.  “Their reckless actions add injury to insult,” Mantashe said in a statement, adding that Implats’ plan to cut 13,400 jobs was “a display of arrogance”.

This short report is at Moneyweb


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Striking Untu members call for commuters to boycott Gautrain

Fin24 reports that the United National Transport Union (Untu) has appealed to commuters to boycott the Gautrain and support its "friendly employees" as the strike entered the fourth day on Thursday.  This came as the Bombela Operating Company (BOC), which runs Gautrain, extended its limited operations.  The union accused the BOC of placing employees in a “bad light” with allegations that members were demanding a 19% increase and were intimidating employees and preventing Gautrain buses from leaving the Midrand depot.  “The company has not attempted to resolve the deadlock in wage negotiations since Saturday, 28 July 2018,” said Steve Harris, general secretary of Untu in a statement on Wednesday night.  Meantime, Untu has given the green light for a draft consent agreement to comply with picketing rules to be made an order of court.  Untu is demanding a 10% basic salary increase, a transport allowance of R800, a housing allowance of R1,600 and incentive bonuses of R20,000 for all employees.  The BOC said it had offered an 8.6% across-the-board increase.

Read this report by Tehillah Niselow in full at Fin24. Read Untu’s press statement at SA Labour News

Higher education department intervenes in University of Fort Hare wage impasse

SABC News reports that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) is engaging with stakeholders at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape to find a solution to the eight week-long strike over wages.  Workers belonging to the National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) have rejected the institution’s offer of a 7.5% increase plus a R3 000 once-off payment and are demanding a 9% wage increase.  Students have not been able to finish their mid-year exams due to the strike.  On Tuesday, students barricaded the R63 near the Alice Campus to demand urgent intervention in the matter.  The DHET’s director-general, Gwebindlala Qonde, indicated:  “I think it must be understood that Fort Hare has increased salaries above average in respect to other institutions in the country, including above what government has actually offered towards wages across the board.  This situation is putting Fort Hare in a dire situation in terms of budgetary arrangements so it’s quite important for us to look into the situation and workout mechanisms of ensuring that the institution is saved.”

Read this report in full at SABC News


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Solidarity accepts Eskom’s wage offer and will assist in stabilising power grid

In a statement on Thursday, trade union Solidarity announced that it had accepted Eskom’s offer of a wage increase of 7,5% for this year, a 7% increase for years two and three with a guaranteed increase equal to the CPI on housing, as well as a once-off cash payment of R5 000 after taxes.  Solidarity added that it would now do everything within its power to stabilise the power grid.  “Given the current circumstances, it is a very fair offer.  For all our members across South Africa the right thing to do now would be to help prevent the economy from being hampered by an unreliable power supply,” said Solidarity Chief Executive Dr Dirk Hermann.  He noted that the bonus issue had not been settled yet and said it would be dealt with at another forum.  The union again called on both Eskom and the SA Police Service to take drastic action against criminal elements that were sabotaging the infrastructure and intimidating workers.

Read Solidarity’s press statement in full at SA Labour News


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Cyril Ramaphosa choosing ANC over country, says Solidarity

ANA reports that trade union Solidarity said on Wednesday that the ruling ANC showed its true colours when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the party was in support of changing the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.  In a statement, head of the Solidarity Research Institute, Connie Mulder, contended that several statements made by the ruling party over the past two days made it clear that the parliamentary process which has seen public hearings into whether Section 25 of the Constitution should be changed to allow for land expropriation without compensation was actually just for the show.  “The initial resolution, as contained in the ANC’s policy documents, is still being pursued with the public hearings just being a show, while the actual decision was being forced through,” Mulder said.  He went on to state:  “Combined with the uncertainty that is prevailing in mining about the Mining Charter, new record levels of unemployment and slow economic growth, it is reckless from government to simply steamroller such a detrimental policy.”

Read this report in full at IOL News. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News


LABOUR MARKET / JOB CREATION

City of Joburg created 109,000 new jobs in first two quarters, says Mashaba

ANA reports that Mayor Herman Mashaba on Thursday announced that the City of Johannesburg had created "109 000 new jobs in the first two quarters of 2018 and reduced the expanded unemployment rate from 32.3% to 30.8%".  He indicated that the development was reported in the Quarterly Labour Force Survey released by Stats SA earlier in the week.  "Unfortunately, this growth in Johannesburg has taken place at a time when we must sympathise with the 418,000 more people joining the ranks of the unemployed nationally, and 115,000 more in Gauteng over the same period," lamented the mayor.  He also reported that the city achieved a record R8.7 billion in investment in the 2017/18 financial year, which he said exceeded "our targets by more than R3 billion".

This short report is at IOL News


APPOINTMENTS / STAFFING

Transport union welcomes appointment of Siza Mzimela as acting SA Express CEO

ANA reports that the National Transport Movement (NTM) on Wednesday welcomed the announcement of Siza Mzimela as acting chief executive of beleaguered airline, SA Express (SAX).  In a statement, NTM described Mzimela's appointment as an “excellent choice".  It added:  "Siza is well respected in the aviation sector.  Her appointment could not come at a better time as SA Express plans to resume its flight schedules in the next few weeks following the reinstatement of its Air Operator’s Certificate."  The union also welcomed the transfer of the administration of SA Airways (SAA) from National Treasury to the Department of Public Enterprises.  "In both cases of SAX and SAA, we hope the management of the airlines will consult with our union on plans to financially stabilise the two carriers.  We will work hard to provide input to how the airlines can stop the financial losses, lift staff morale and play their part in the economic development of our country," NTM stated.

This short report is at Engineering News


HIGHER EDUCATION / QUALIFICATIONS

Higher Education Department wants to name and shame those with bogus degrees

BusinessLive reports that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has proposed naming and shaming fraudsters who claim fake qualifications in an online public register administered by the SA Qualifications Authority (Saqa).  It hopes this will deter others from following suit.  The measures are contained in the draft National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill, currently before Parliament.  It aims to tighten the noose on institutions that offer bogus qualifications and individuals who fake or misrepresent their accomplishments, and is a response to the problems currently confronting employers and education institutions.  The bill contains provisions that compel education institutions and employers to report fraudulent or misrepresented qualifications to Saqa.  The draft National Policy on the Misrepresentation of Qualifications also proposes setting up a public register of individuals and providers who had misrepresented or faked their qualifications.  Saqa had recorded a total of 1,276 fake qualifications (444 national and 832 foreign qualifications) at the beginning of 2017.

Read this report by Tamar Kahn in full at BusinessLive


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION / SUSPENSIONS

Ramaphosa initiates process to suspend NPA’s Jiba, Mrwebi

BusinessLive reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has dropped his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s legal battle to protect controversial prosecutions heavyweights Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi  He has written to both that he intends to launch inquiries into their fitness to hold office.  Jiba and Mrwebi have until 10 August to provide reasons why they should not be suspended, pending inquiries related to multiple court rulings against them.  The president has also indicated that he is awaiting the outcome of a Constitutional Court ruling on whether National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams was validly appointed before deciding on his continued leadership.  That ruling is expected in the coming weeks.  These steps are seen as the first of several major executive interventions expected at the NPA.  Ramaphosa stated within days of taking up office that tackling "leadership issues" at the NPA was one of his priorities as president.  Meanwhile, the General Council of the Bar is seeking to challenge a Supreme Court of Appeal judgment that found the Bar had failed to establish that Jiba was guilty of misconduct.

Read this report by Karyn Maughan in full at BusinessLive. Read too, No response from Jiba on probe into her fitness, at Pretoria News

Tom Moyane eyes court bid to stop SARS disciplinary hearing

BusinessLive reports that suspended SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane is preparing to go to court as he continues his bid to halt processes to uncover actions that led to the destruction of the tax agency under his watch.  His legal team is awaiting a response from President Cyril Ramaphosa after all objections lodged by the embattled tax boss to his disciplinary inquiry were dismissed on Tuesday by its chairman, advocate Azhar Bham.  Ramaphosa will now have to weigh in on whether he will halt either the disciplinary inquiry into Moyane or the Judge Robert Nugent commission of inquiry into governance and administrative issues at SARS.  The main objections which Bham dismissed related to the right to oral evidence or cross-examination, the admissibility and content of an affidavit by Pravin Gordhan in the disciplinary matter and the "parallel inquiries" in which Moyane is at the centre.   Moyane’s attorney, Eric Mabuza, said the ball was now in Ramaphosa’s court and if he too responded unfavourably to Moyane’s demands, they would go to court.  Bham in his written ruling on the objections indicated that he wanted a "substantive response" from Moyane on the charges he faced by 20 August.

Read this report by Natasha Marrian in full at BusinessLive


COMMUTING TO WORK / TRANSPORT SERVICES

Prasa keeps trains running after securing temporary safety permit to end of August

BusinessLive reports that the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) has issued the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) with a temporary safety permit to allow trains to continue operating.  But, the regulator confirmed that it had issued a contravention notice to Prasa for operating trains on 1 August without being in possession of a valid safety permit.  The temporary permit is valid until the end of August.  The regular safety permit expired on Tuesday and the regulator decided not to issue a new one until it was satisfied that planned interventions by Prasa to address "safety concerns" had been carried out.  Transport Minister Blade Nzimande has reportedly asked for a detailed report on the matter and instructed Prasa to immediately get its trains in order.  The regulator has not specified exactly what its concerns were around the safety of the Prasa trains.

Read this report by Kgaugelo Masweneng at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Who is burning Cape Town’s trains? at News24

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page