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, 14 September 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Justice Minister Masutha won’t go to court over Poynton’s Building shutdown

News24 reports that Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha will not challenge the shutting down of his headquarters at Poyntons Building in Pretoria because he is confident it will be found to be fully compliant with regulatory safety requirements.  Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga last week shut down the building, which houses the Department of Correctional Services HQ, on the basis that it was unsafe.  Staff were evacuated.  The City of Tshwane's emergency services department has since requested engagement with the building's owners about safety measures that must be undertaken.  Meanwhile, the Public Servants Association (PSA) has welcomed the building's closure as it has been raising the matter of the poor state of the building for years.  The PSA will monitor the situation at Poyntons and is also pursuing legal action in respect of the Civitas Building, which houses the department of health.  The safety of buildings in Gauteng has become a matter of public interest since the Bank of Lisbon building in Joburg and eight others were identified as non-compliant with health and safety requirements.  Three firefighters died last Wednesday after a fire broke out in the Bank of Lisbon building.

Read this report by Canny Maphanga in full at News24

Pupil arrested for stabbing North West teacher to death in class

HeraldLIve reports that a learner allegedly stabbed and killed a teacher on Thursday at a school in Zeerust‚ North West.  Basic education minister Angie Motshekga said she was “appalled” after the death of Gadimang Mokolobate.  “The stabbing incident happened in full view of a class that was in the process of writing an examination.  The death of 24-year-old‚ Gadimang Daniel Mokolobate can only be described as an abhorrent travesty‚” Motshekga stated.  She went on to say that it was “heartbreaking” to lose a teacher who had “so much potential for greatness”.  Mokolobate allegedly reprimanded the learner on Wednesday for skipping the queue at the school’s feeding programme.  The learner was arrested and the provincial education department has offered counselling at the school.  The incident came after a learner was arrested at the Eldorado Park Secondary School in Johannesburg on Wednesday after pointing a gun at a teacher.  Motshekga said delinquency and lawless in schools was unacceptable.

Read this report by Nico Gous in full at HeraldLive. Read too, Pupils, colleagues break down following teacher's stabbing death, at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Firefighter who fell to his death during Joburg building blaze laid to rest on Friday, at News24
  • Sitole called to explain how firearm entered Parliament after official's apparent suicide, at News24


MINING LABOUR

Solidarity and Amcu to sign wage agreement with AngloGold Ashanti on Monday

Trade union Solidarity reports that it and other mining unions, including the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), will sign a three year wage agreement with AngloGold Ashanti at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg at noon on Monday.  The content of the agreement will apparently be announced as part of the signing ceremony.  Negotiations with the other gold producers, Sibanye-Stillwater, Harmony Gold and Village Main Reef, will resume on Thursday, 20 September 2018 under the auspices of the CCMA.

Solidarity’s brief press statement is at SA Labour News

Seven illegal miners arrested by Hawks at Limpopo mine

News24 reports that various authorities, including the Hawks, on Saturday bust seven alleged illegal miners in Ellerton at a rehabilitated mine in the Hlaniki village in Limpopo.  Hawks spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke said the joint operation, which included Crime Intelligence, Public Order Police and Department for Mineral Resource, saw almost 89 bags of gold bearing material being seized.  "The operation comes hot off the heels of two similar actions conducted in March and May this year where about 45 suspects were arrested for alleged illegal mining and for unlawful possession of unwrought precious metal," Maluleke said.  The seven suspects, aged between 26 and 60, were due to appear at the Giyani Magistrate’s Court on Monday for contravening the Precious Metal Act, illegal mining and unlawful possession of unwrought metal.

This short report by Kaveel Singh is at News24

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Victory for the Blyvooruitzicht mine community as ConCourt upholds order safeguarding access to water, at Polity
  • Top platinum mines keep digging even as price at decade low, at Moneyweb

Postings on mining charter / transformation

  • A third version of the Mining Charter may be ready by early this week, says Mantashe, at Mining Weekly
  • Opinion: Finding solutions for mining to the unintended consequences of poor policy, at BusinessLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Court sets aside Nedlac’s refusal to allow protest action by Solidarity members over Sasol’s black empowerment share scheme

Fin24 reports that the South Gauteng High Court on Friday ruled against a decision by Nedlac to refuse an application by trade union Solidarity for all its 180,000 members to take protest action countrywide in protest against a black economic empowerment share scheme impacting some of its members at Sasol.  While the ruling means Nedlac (National Economic Development and Labour Council) will now have to review its decision, it doesn't as such give Solidarity the all-clear to call its members out.  Solidarity approached the court on an urgent basis for the right of its members to take protest action in solidarity with white Sasol employees who have downed tools against what they claim is racial exclusion in Sasol's black economic empowerment share scheme, known as Sasol Khanyisa Phase 2.  Nedlac had initially opposed the urgent application made in terms of section 77 of the Labour relations Act, arguing that it lacked the necessary authority to consider Solidarity's "demands".  However, the court found that there was "no merit in contention by the first respondent (Nedlac) that it does not have the power to entertain the applicant's section 77(1)(b) application.  That decision therefore stands to be reviewed".  Solidarity CE Dr Dirk Hermann reacted:  “We are planning a huge protest action to support Sasol members and to protest racial exclusion.  It will be a historical protest expressing a voice not heard before.”

Read this report by Jeanette Chabalala in full at Fin24. Read too, Solidarity plans ‘historic’ national strike over racial exclusion, at The Citizen. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News

Solidarity accuses Sasol of being "reckless" as strike over employee share scheme drags on

Fin24 reports that trade union Solidarity has accused Sasol of compromising safety by making workers who are not properly trained replace its striking members at the Sasolburg plant. Hundreds of white Solidarity members are on strike over their exclusion from Sasol's new Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment employee share scheme. The union said in a statement on Sunday that Sasol was running the Sasolburg plant with staff who “do not have the necessary clearances and certifications” – causing concern over the safety of employees. “The decision to keep the plant running with the services of employees who are not duly qualified to do so, is reckless,” said the union. The strike is now in its third week. But the petrochemicals giant has refuted Solidarity’s claim, insisting there was no indication that safety had been compromised at Sasolburg. Solidarity also alleged that the strike had affected the firm's scheduled shutdown at Secunda. Sasol has attributed the delays to “technical challenges” which have already been resolved. Meanwhile, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) will on Wednesday begin talks with the parties aimed at ending the impasse.

Read this report in full at Fin24.   Read too, Sasol ontken Sasolburg-aanleg is ‘onveilig’, at Maroela Media.   And also, Solidariteit sê Sasol-staking ‘verloop presies volgens plan’, at Maroela Media.   Read Solidarity’s press statement at SA Labour News


UNION NEWS / STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

Cosatu battles decline in affiliates’ membership numbers

City Press reports that labour federation Cosatu has continued to bleed members and cannot get a handle on major affiliated unions that have become embarrassingly dysfunctional.  A frank organisational report, tabled for the federation’s national congress taking place this week, shows that membership of Cosatu unions has fallen to 1.6 million this year – down from 2.2 million in 2013.  In just the past year, membership fell 6%, the report indicates.  Even these figures are likely to be overstated as at least one major affiliate – Ceppwawu – has provided highly questionable figures.  The lost members are largely from industrial unions, further transforming Cosatu into a predominantly public sector federation.  If the latest numbers are to be believed, Cosatu is now 58% comprised of civil servants.  Three unions are identified as problems in the organisational report: chemical union Ceppwawu, transport union Satawu and municipal union Samwu.  “All these unions have common challenges, which include fighting for access to resources in the investment companies, financial mismanagement, unconstitutional suspensions and dismissals of comrades,” reads the report.  Samwu is the only Cosatu union not in good standing because of unpaid affiliation fees.  But, a number of the federation’s affiliates are said to be simply too small to sustain themselves.  On the political front, Cosatu’s leadership is starting to imagine a future where its alliance partner, the ANC, fails to win 50% of the vote in the upcoming national election.  

Read this informative report by Dewald van Rensburg and Jan De Lange in full at Fin24

Cash-strapped Cosatu looks to amending its fees clause

BusinessLive reports that Cosatu affiliates want its constitution to be amended to include a clause holding unions liable for outstanding subscriptions to the labour federation.  The proposal, which will be debated at the federation’s congress this week, comes amid its court battle to recoup about R10m in unpaid affiliation fees from its former affiliates, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu).  Some of the federation’s affiliates are beset by infighting and maladministration, such as the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), and have failed to meet their financial obligations to the federation, sending it into the red over the years, according to general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.  "The unions are not healthy, some are struggling and they owe the federation.  If they were paying what is due to Cosatu, it [the federation] would be very rich.  The membership we have should make us stable," Ntshalintshali indicated.  Other suggested amendments to the organisation’s constitution include the insertion of a clause enabling the federation to hold shares in profit-making entities.  Cosatu affiliates also want the extension of terms of office for elected leaders from three to five years, arguing that the frequency and cost of convening Cosatu meetings are not conducive to stability, while the current term period is also not enough for the leaders to implement all congress resolutions.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive

Cosatu congress this week to shed light on election stance with ANC

BusinessLive reports that labour federation Cosatu’s national congress, which starts on Monday, will be the highlight on the political calendar this week.  President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to deliver the keynote address, which will be keenly followed after reports emerged last week that former president Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule were plotting to oust him.  Cosatu is expected to discuss its association with the ANC ahead of the 2019 elections.  It is understood that the federation will support the party in 2019, but it might also decide to throw its weight behind the SA Communist Party (SACP) as the latter works to build a popular front to potentially contest future elections.  The SACP resolved in 2017 to look into contesting elections on its own from within or outside the governing alliance.  Meantime, Cosatu has called on the ANC to investigate allegations of the plot within the party to oust Ramaphosa.

A short report by Bekezela Phakathi is at BusinessLive. Read too, Cosatu girds for new alliance status fight, on page 4 of The Sunday Times of 16 September 2018

Membership by Saftu of Nedlac won’t be able to be blocked any more after April

City Press reports that the incumbent labour constituency at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) managed to block new union federation Saftu from joining the body last year – but the excuse it used will fall away in April.  Even though Saftu (SA Federation of Trade Unions) is the second-largest labour federation in the country, Nedlac’s rules permit the founding union federations – Cosatu, Fedusa and Nactu – to set the rules for admission.  Shortly before the well-publicised launch of Saftu in April last year, the three incumbent federations changed the Nedlac rules, saying a federation had to exist for two years before Nedlac would consider whether it could become a member.  This excluded Saftu, but the exclusion will only last for another seven months.  However, nothing stops the incumbents from simply inventing another arbitrary rule to block it, Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi conceded last week.  Saftu is larger than Fedusa and Nactu combined and mostly comprises two major unions – Numsa and Fawu.  It has vowed to shake things up at Nedlac once it gets in.  

Read this report by Dewald van Rensburg in full at Fin24


LABOUR MARKET / JOB CREATION

Labour minister to launch R22m project aimed at jobs in aviation, maritime commercial diving and agriculture

Daily News reports that on Monday the Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, will officially launch a R22 million training project aimed at creating employment in the aviation, maritime commercial diving and agricultural sectors.  The projects will be undertaken through a partnership agreement between the Dr John Langalibalele Dube Institute (JLDI) and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), which falls under the Department of Labour.  The UIF, through its Labour Activation Programmes (LAP), has set aside R22 million for the three projects for beneficiaries – most of which are former contributors to the UIF who lost their jobs.  At Durban’s Virginia Airport, 50 beneficiaries will undergo an intensive pilot training.  The maritime commercial diving project in Scottsburgh, south of KwaZulu-Natal, will target 50 beneficiaries to be trained on scuba diving, underwater welding, plumbing, photography, and filmmaking, amongst other skills.  In Emandungeni, 100 rural women will be trained and grouped into a cooperative to plant and grow organic fruit and vegetables.

Read this report in full at Daily News


EMPLOYMENT EQUITY / AFFIRMATIVE ACTION / EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

Labour minister says employment equity policies might need relook in light of SAHRC report

City Press reports that the government is seeking to engage the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) after the Chapter Nine body reportedly found that the country’s affirmative action and employment equity policies were unconstitutional.  In her opening address at the 23rd annual summit of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said she had been “advised” that an SAHRC investigation into the constitutionality of affirmative action and employment equity policies had concluded that both the policy and the Employment Equity Act “were unconstitutional, and not in sync with international conventions.”  She told delegates that the report made various recommendations on what needed to be done, including amending the act.  It gave government six months to report back on steps taken in response to the recommendations.  Oliphant said Nedlac partners needed to study the report and respond to the recommendations.  “It might even be useful to seek an audience with the commission to understand the basis for its report, its findings and the recommendations.  This is important, given that all our labour laws have to pass constitutional scrutiny before they can be signed into law.  These conclusions by the commission demand special attention from all of us in general and the Nedlac social partners in particular,” said Oliphant.

Read this report by Lesetja Malope in full at Fin24


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

‘SABC in dire straits’ and jobs likely to be lost, CEO tells staff

ANA reports that SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Group CEO Madoda Mxakwe on Friday highlighted the public broadcaster’s “dire financial state” to staff, saying the SABC had had a “demanding financial year”  “The SABC had a net loss of R622 million for the 2017/18 financial year.  One of the SABC’s biggest cost drivers is the salary bill.  To put this into context, the SABC is a R7.2 billion revenue generating company with a salary bill of R3.1 billion,” the SABC advised in a statement.  The corporation went on to state:  “The current ratio of venue to wage bill is not sustainable given the SABC’s dismal financial situation.  It is for this reason that the SABC is contemplating other cost cutting measures to further reduce costs.  The next step is for the SABC to engage in joint consensus seeking consultations with organised labour.”  The SABC said it had met with organised labour on Thursday to inform them that the organisation was contemplating job cuts in terms of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.  It said this would form part of the cost cutting measures.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read too, Cost-cutting ideas by SABC may include retrenchments, at BusinessLive. Read the SABC’s press statement at Politicsweb

SABC hits back at Magashule over comments that retrenchments would not be allowed

News24 reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has hit out at Ace Magashule after the ANC general secretary said the party would not allow retrenchments at the parastatal, reminding him that the public broadcaster controlled its own affairs.  Magashule made the comments while delivering the Winnie Mandela memorial lecture in Polokwane on Friday.  "We must support the workers of the SABC.  The ANC, we committed ourselves publically... that we must not allow any retrenchments, even in our SOEs (state-owned enterprises)," Magashule said.   In a statement, the SABC noted with concern what Magashule had stated and added that it was necessary to confirm that the SABC Board had the exclusive power in terms of section 13(11) of the Broadcasting Act of 1999 to “control the affairs of the Corporation”.  This included how the SABC operated the business of the public broadcaster and conducted labour relations with its employees, said SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu, who noted further that the Board had inherited an organisation in a financial crisis as a result of many years of failures in governance, maladministration and poor decision-making.  Regarding possible retrenchments, Momodu said:  "We are not saying we [are] there yet.  We are contemplating it."

Read this report by Alex Mitchley in full at News24. Read too, SABC must consider cutting jobs to stay afloat, says CEO, at BusinessLive. And also SABC sued for R64m by SA Music Performance Rights Association (Sampra), at The Citizen


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

Transnet pensioners fume as new board drags its heels on bonus payment

Sunday Independent reports that Transnet’s beleaguered pensioners have accused the parastatal’s newly appointed board of delaying Transnet Second Defined Pension Fund (TSDBF) bonus payments to benefit 50,000 pensioners.  John Benwell, who represents pensioners on the board of trustees and has been a gladiator for their cause, indicated that pensioners have been waiting on the bonus payout from July this year, but the board has still not signed off the payments.  “Fifty-thousand pensioners are waiting on that decision.  We made the decision in June to pay the money in July.  We have been waiting since July for the decision from Transnet.  They have not indicated why the approval is being delayed.  We can’t get any information out of them,” said Benwell.  The TSDBF was one of three funds that grew out of the then Transnet Pension Fund.  The TSDBF originally had more than 100,000 members, but that number has diminished due to deaths.  The fund has limited increases on pensions to 2% a year since its inception in November 2000, way below the inflation rate.  Transnet board chairperson Popo Molefe reacted:  “It is not true that Transnet board is withholding bonus payment.  The process is undergoing necessary governance procedures and the fund trustees are kept updated.”

Read this report by Mary Jane Mphahlele in full at IOL News

 


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