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, 3 August 2018.


Black academic caucus at UCT calls for inquiry into Professor Mayosi's death

News24 reports that members of the University of Cape Town's (UCT’s) black academic caucus have called for an in-depth inquiry into the circumstances that led to the death of Professor Bongani Mayosi.  The family of the top cardiologist and former health sciences dean revealed shortly after his death that he had committed suicide following a long struggle with depression.  Earlier last week, UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng said Mayosi had been deeply affected by insulting comments during the occupation of his office by Fees Must Fall protesters in 2015.  However, former Fees Must Fall leader Chumani Maxwele laid the blame at the doorstep of the university.  The black academic caucus proposed that the university's council set up an inquiry as soon as possible to allow for a thorough investigation.  The caucus indicated in a statement:  "We further propose that this inquiry must be set up in consultation with especially black staff and students, who have on various occasions expressed their experiences of being marginalised at UCT.  It is our view that an understanding of the working conditions in institutions such as UCT is key to such an inquiry. It is hard for us to exclude the UCT working environment from the tragic death of our colleague, and indeed others, including students."  The university held a memorial service for Mayosi on Thursday.

Read this report by Paul Herman in full at News24. Read too, UCT professor hailed as a dedicated man, as friends and family say goodbye, at News24

Burnout triggering depression has devastating impact on health professionals

City Press reports that the tragic suicide of leading cardiologist Professor Bongani Mayosi, who battled depression for two years, has resulted in new concern and discussion around the mental health of medical practitioners.  A study recently published in the SA Journal of Psychiatry indicates that symptoms of mental wellness issues – such as burnout, which can be a forerunner to clinical depression – can start as early as a medical professional’s student years.  Burnout describes a process of mental exhaustion.  It has been shown to “have a devastating impact on health professionals, such as declining mental and physical health as well as quality of life, which has serious repercussions for health professions as the career becomes less attractive”.  Compared with the general population, the researchers noted how students and medical practitioners have a higher prevalence of burnout and stress-related mental disorders.  Psychiatrist Jan Chabalala said what was particularly surprising for him about Mayosi’s suicide and the discussions many people were having around depression, was the misconception that “successful and intelligent people don’t become depressed”.  He observed:  “People think that because you supposedly have ‘everything’ in a material sense, and are intelligent, you won’t suffer from mental illness.  But the bottom line is that Mayosi was a human being, and disease is everyone’s risk.”  Dentists, gynaecologists and anaesthesiologists all have high suicide rates apparently because they deal with a lot of complaints and litigation if operations do not go well.

Read this report by Vuyo Mkize in full at News24. Read too, ‘Silent killer’ stalks stressed doctors, on page 8 of The Sunday Times of 5 August 2018


Gold mining companies increase wage offer

Netwerk24 reports that the Minerals Council SA (previously called the Chamber of Mines) tabled new wage offers in negotiations on Wednesday and Thursday with the four unions representing members in the sector.  The talks cover some 80,000 workers employed by AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye-Stillwater, Harmony Gold and Village Main Reef, who are represented by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), Solidarity and the United Association of SA (Uasa).  The producers’ revised offers range from 6% to 7.2% for ‘category 4 to 8 employees’ and from 3.5% to 4.5% for artisans, more senior mineworkers and officials.  The companies also made concessions on living out allowances; meal interval allowances; upgrading category 4 supervisors to category 5; and severance pay.  NUM general secretary David Sipunzi responded:  “This is indeed a war being declared by the gold producers.  We will take their offers to our members with immediate effect and they are the one who will give us a way forward."  Gideon du Plessis, general secretary of Solidarity, said the offers were lower than what his members expected, although the move created a platform for continued constructive negotiations.  The next round of talks will take place on 15 August 2018.

Read this report in full in Afrikaans at Netwerk24 (paywall access). Read the producers’ press statement at Gold Wage Negotiations. Read the NUM’s press statement at NUM News. Read Solidarity’s press statement at Solidarity News

Mantashe accuses Implats of ‘walking opposite direction to mining industry’

ANA reports that Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe on Friday again called on Impala Platinum (Implats) to come to the table to discuss an approach of trying to save massive job cuts at its operations.  He reiterated at a media briefing that his department was not fighting with the industry.  This followed an announcement by Implats that it would be retrenching over 13,000 workers as part of a restructuring programme for continued viability.  Mantashe commented:  “The day before yesterday, we had a meeting with the mining industry.  We had 35 CEOs and senior executives under one roof where we were actually beginning to debate and discuss the future of the industry.  It was curious for me that Impala was not part of that meeting.  And then when they released this information yesterday (Thursday), it became clear to me that they are walking to the opposite direction of the industry, and therefore, that conflict is a self-manufactured conflict by Impala Platinum because any serious company in the industry was in that meeting.”

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read too, Implats’ R2.7bn cut of 13 000 jobs, five shafts, 230 000 oz, evokes Minister’s rebuke, at Engineering News

Way open for plans to revive Lily Mine

Mail & Guardian reports that plans to revive Lily Mine have finally been cleared after a liquidation application brought against its sister mine, Barbrook, was withdrawn on Thursday.  This has cleared the way for a takeover of the parent company, Vantage Goldfields, by the Siyakhula Sonke Corporation (SSC).  The Barbrook creditors rendered services to maintain the mine for the past two years but have not yet been paid.  Operations at Lily Mine, near Barberton in Mpumalanga, came to a halt after a crown pillar collapsed underground three years ago, trapping and killing three workers: Pretty Mabuza, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyarenda.  Vantage Goldfields SA was later placed under business rescue.  A R320-million joint investment by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and SSC, supported by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, is meant to restart mining operations.  A consultation meeting with Lomshiyo residents is now expected to go ahead on Monday, when the deal will be finalised.

Read more of this Mail & Guardian report of 3 August 2018 by Govan Whittles at SA Labour News


CCMA steps in to try and resolve Gautrain wage strike

News24 reports that with last week’s limited rail routes and frustrated commuters, the Gautrain and the United National Transport Union (Untu) have agreed to head to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to try resolve the strike.  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 Bombela Operating Company (BOC), which runs the Gautrain, is offering 8.6% across the board raises.  The union has welcomed the CCMA’s intervention, saying its members and families were suffering as a result of the no-work, no pay principle.  The strike entered its fifth day on Friday and the Gautrain, which ran limited operation during peak periods last week, suspended the service for the weekend.  Spokesperson for the Gautrain, Kesagee Nayager, confirmed that the company had accepted the offer of assistance by the CCMA and they were available to meet.  The BOC said it was concerned by the potential loss of income by their employees and called on union members to consider their offer, which remained open.  The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) on Friday called on Transport Minister Blade Nzimande to “urgently intervene” in the wage impasse.

Read this report by Tehillah Niselow in full at Fin24. Read too, Untu says accepts CCMA’s offer to help resolve Gautrain wage dispute, at Engineering News

Protracted strike at University of Fort Hare comes to an end with Nehawu eventually accepting 7.5%

News24 reports that National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) members at the University of Fort Hare have agreed to end their protracted strike, despite not all their demands not having been met.  The workers have been on strike for almost two months as they would not accept the university’s offer of a 7.5% salary increase, which they have now agreed on.  The union had been demanding an increase of 8% and a notch progression of 1%.  "We suspended the strike to allow the process of teaching and learning to continue.  We don’t want to be seen as selfish people who continue to fight for 0.5% whilst exams continue to be affected," the union's provincial secretary Miki Jaceni said on Sunday.  He added that, although they had settled for a lower figure and agreed to end the strike, they would continue engaging with the university and the Department of Higher Education and Training on other matters that were of concern to them.

Read this report by Sesona Ngqakamba in full at News24


Numsa and NUM take Eskom’s latest wage offer back to members

ANA reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said on Friday that it would be taking the latest wage offer made by power utility Eskom to its members for ratification.  Numsa, together with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity, met with Eskom management on Thursday under the auspices of the CCMA in a bid to finalise the protracted wage talks and settle the dispute.  Details of the revised offer were not shared with the media by Numsa.  Eskom will be meeting again on Wednesday with the union to get its response to the offer.  Meanwhile, Solidarity said on Thursday it had accepted the latest three-year wage offer from Eskom, which comprised a salary increase of 7.5% this year and 7% next year and the year after, plus an inflation-linked increase in housing allowances and a once-off cash payment of R5,000.  Reuters reported separately on Friday that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) would also be seeking a mandate from its members to seal a wage agreement with the power utility.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read too, NUM to seek members’ approval on latest wage offer by Eskom, at Timeslive

Eskom’s new wage offer includes a one-off cash payment of R10,000

BusinessLive reports that Eskom workers have until Wednesday to accept or reject a new wage offer that includes one-off cash payments of R10,000.  The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was instrumental in crafting a settlement proposal in talks on Friday between the power utility and unions.  Talks had hit a stumbling block after the company said it would not pay bonuses as part of its wage increase package, with workers demanding 2% of their annual pay as bonuses.  According to the CCMA’s written proposal, wages would rise by 7.5% in 2018 and 7% in 2019 and 2020.  Housing allowances would be adjusted in line with inflation for the three-year period of the agreement.  However, the document stipulates that unions "reserve the legal right to challenge the non-payment of bonuses".  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said they would be engaging with their members on the offer.  Last week Solidarity signed an earlier agreement tabled by Eskom that offered workers a cash payment of R5,000.  However, Solidarity members would still receive whatever increases are agreed to during the final settlement.  The CCMA hopes the deal will be signed on Wednesday.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Eskom said to cave in on bonuses, unions likely to accept new offer, at Fin24


Failure to attract senior staff leaves future of WSU law faculty in the balance

City Press reports that the future of the law faculty at Walter Sisulu University (WSU) looks bleak, with the institution having failed to attract highly qualified law experts.  Last year the university lost accreditation for its LLB law degree programme, and so with no new intakes, this year’s LLB intake will perhaps be the last.  This is due to the lack of professors and doctors of law teaching at the university’s Nelson Mandela Drive Campus in Mthatha, formerly known as University of Transkei, which offers an LLB programme.  University spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said nothing had changed since the Council on Higher Education (CHE) withdrew accreditation for their LLB programme.  According to the president of WSU convocation, Zincedile Tiya, the CHE listed a number of reasons when withdrawing the accreditation, including issues around junior staff and the fact that the university had to employ doctors and professors of law to comply, among other factors.  The CHE had also complained about infrastructure, including lecture halls that were dilapidated and outdated.  “The university apparently tried to headhunt some professors and doctors of law to come for interviews, but the recent strike by unions disrupted the process.

Read this report by Lubabalo Ngcukana in full at News24


R100k reward offered for info on Cape Town train fires

News24 reports that the Western Cape government is offering a R100,000 reward for information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of whoever is burning trains in Cape Town.  "The R100 000 reward we are making available is our warning to these arsonists: You are being watched, you will be caught and we will not allow you to derail this province," said Dan Plato, the MEC for Community Safety in the province on Sunday.  Thirty-two coaches were reportedly damaged by arson in July alone.  Premier Helen Zille said the attacks were sabotaging freedom of movement, leaving a serious knock-on effect to the province's economy and productivity.  The Western Cape government has contributed R16m to improve Metrorail’s security, while the city is also training 100 extra security officers to guard trains and rail infrastructure.

Read this report by Jenni Evans in full at News24

Taxi strike in Western Cape expected on Monday

News24 reports that Western Cape taxi drivers are expected to go on strike on Monday in a dispute over a conference that was supposed to have been held to resolve a leadership dispute in respect of the provincial arm of the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco).  In June the Western Cape High Court ordered Santaco to convene a conference to resolve the Western Cape taxi industry's issues over leadership and differences over clauses in the Santaco constitution.  Santaco is an umbrella body for taxi associations that liaises between the government and taxi associations regarding operational issues, funding and programmes relevant to the taxi industry.  Cape Organisation of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) chairperson Besethu Ndungane claimed that Santaco had refused to honour the holding of the conference and stated  "This has now left the mini-bus taxi industry with no alternative but to withdraw its services throughout the Western Cape, effective from Monday 6 August 2018 until such time the pre-elective conference is held …”  Provincial transport MEC Donald Grant issued a strongly worded statement on Friday, saying that there had been a walk-out by certain taxi representatives at the end of July when a Santaco official had been trying to set the terms of the pre-elective conference.  The Provincial Taxi Registrar has asked all taxi associations to refrain from withdrawing their services, intimidating other operators or damaging vehicles and property.

Read this report by Jenni Evans in full at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Metrorail fire victim speaks after months in hospital: 'I’ll never take the train again', at News24


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page