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
Tuesday, 18 September 2018.


Cosatu gets its first female president as new leaders are elected unopposed

The Citizen reports that, for the first time in its history, Cosatu will now have a female president after Zingiswa Losi was nominated unopposed.  The trade union federation’s four-day congress got under way on Monday, with delegates electing their new leaders on Tuesday morning.  All of the top positions were uncontested, with certain names having been withdrawn from the respective races early on Tuesday.  The official announcements will only be made on Thursday though.  The new first deputy is now Mike Shingange of Nehawu; the new second deputy is Louise Chipe of Saccawu; the general secretary remains Bheki Ntshalintshali; the deputy general secretary remains Solly Phetoe; treasurer Freda Oosthuysen also continues in the role.  Losi was previously the deputy president and replaces Sdumo Dlamini.

A short report is at The Citizen

SA not planning mass layoffs in public sector, Ramaphosa tells Cosatu congress

Reuters reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday there would be no mass layoffs of public sector workers as his government considers various ways to pull the economy out of a recession.  In June, the National Treasury said it was considering layoffs and early retirement packages for staff in the public sector to avoid breaking its pledge to cut spending after unions clinched above-inflation wage increases.  But, Ramaphosa said at trade union federation Cosatu’s congress on Monday:  “The mass retrenchment of public sector workers is not under consideration.  The context of slow economic growth and weak revenue collection means that expenditure on other critical things will suffer … but we need to address this in a way that does not put the livelihoods of public sector workers at risk.”  SA needs faster economic growth to reduce its 27% unemployment rate and alleviate poverty and inequality and the ruling African National Congress has made repeated pledges to improve the economy.  Unemployment will no doubt be a key concern for voters ahead of elections next year.

Read this report by Mfuneko Toyana in full at Moneyweb

Cyril Ramaphosa implores business to put moratorium on job cuts

BusinessLive reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa indicated on Monday that he has implored the business community to implement a moratorium on job cuts resulting from the dire economic conditions in the country.  Addressing more than 2,000 delegates attending the Cosatu national congress, Ramaphosa said unemployment had worsened because of state capture in state-owned enterprises and other public institutions as well as global events such as the trade wars and the decline of some emerging markets.  The trade union federation has been calling for a moratorium to be enforced on all retrenchments until the jobs summit scheduled for October has been convened when the country’s social partners will discuss solutions to the unemployment crisis.  Ramaphosa told delegates:  "We called on business not to be hasty in retrenching workers, especially during the trying economic conditions.  We said they should try everything they can to put a moratorium on retrenchments so that we could rise from these economic conditions.  They should also reconsider reskilling workers."  Last week, Nehawu, Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, criticised business and the government’s lack of resolve to solve SA’s high levels of unemployment, social inequality and poverty.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive

Samwu not at Cosatu congress as ‘not in good standing’, denies that delegates bulldozed their way in

The Citizen reports that the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) indicated on Monday that it would not be participating in Cosatu’s 13th national congress being held this week.  General secretary Simon Mathe said the union was saddened that for the first time since its formation it would not participate at a congress of the labour federation.  Mathe indicated that the union was informed by a Cosatu task team that, as a result of it not being in good standing due to outstanding affiliation fees, Samwu would not be allowed to attend the event.  He stressed that this was the first time that an affiliate not in good standing had been prevented from attending a Cosatu congress or meeting.  “Tradition has always been that even though an affiliate is not in good standing, they would be allowed to attend any of the federation’s meetings provided that they have an observer status in such a meeting,” he stated.  Mathe said the union decided not to bulldoze its way into the congress.  He noted reports that Samwu had disrupted the congress and categorically stated that “our delegation has not set foot at the congress venue given the reasons which had been advanced by Cosatu.  We therefore distance ourselves from attempts and acts of disruptions which are alleged to have occurred at the congress venue today (Monday).”  The four-day congress is being held in Midrand until Thursday.

Read this report by Brian Sokutu in full at The Citizen. Read Samwu’s press statement at SA Labour News

Nonpayment by affiliates of subscription fees keeps Cosatu’s finances in the red

BusinessLive reports that the debt accumulated by Cosatu affiliates in unpaid subscriptions accounted for 41% of the federation’s expected total income in 2017 at over R45m.  The figures, contained in Cosatu’s finance report to be tabled before its national congress in Midrand this week, paint a bleak picture of the finances of the trade union federation.  Cosatu generates its income and sustains its operations primarily through affiliation fees.  Payment of salaries to staff accounted for 30% of the total budget in 2017.  In the same year, the federation expected R74m in affiliation fees and received just above half of the amount.  During his final speech to delegates at the congress, outgoing Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini berated union leaders for hogging money that belonged to workers, negatively affecting the campaigns of the organisation.  Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali recently indicated that had it not been for nonpayment by members, Cosatu would have a yearly budget surplus.  The income shortfall was 16% in 2015 and 30% in 2016.  The finance report also notes that the federation’s assets have remained at a "constant decline due to depreciation and no acquisition of assets".  Cosatu received over R20m in donations in 2017.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • The diminishing importance of Cosatu – can it be renewed? at Moneyweb
  • Ramaphosa calls at Cosatu congress for end to ‘machinations in dark corners’ dividing ANC, at BusinessLive


Unions in KZN call for security at schools after fatal stabbing of North West teacher by pupil

The Star reports that the fatal stabbing of a teacher by a pupil in North West has sparked all-too-familiar fears for KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) teachers.  The provincial National Teachers’ Union (Natu) and the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) said on Monday that their members should not be working in fear, wondering if they were going to be the next victim.  Gadimang Mokolobate, 24, died after being stabbed in the chest on Thursday at a secondary school near Zeerust.  His alleged murderer - a Grade 10 learner - had apparently been reprimanded by Mokolobate for jumping the queue for food the day before.  Natu's Allen Thompson said schools were the last place teachers should be in danger and that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was failing teachers and learners by not providing sufficient, properly trained security guards.  Natu was proposing one security guard for every 300 pupils, as “anything less would be the department continuing to gamble with teachers' and learners' lives.”  But, a DBE spokesperson said their budget was already stretched to make provisions for teaching and learning.  Sadtu's Bheki Shandu said while teachers were taught how to deal with ill-discipline, they were not equipped to deal with violence and that the “drugs, struggles, fights and grudges happening in society are spilling into schools, as we have seen with the killing of the two learners in KwaMakhutha, which was found to be linked to gangsterism.

Read this report by Nosipho Mngoma in full at The Star. Read too, Pupil ‘stabs’ teacher out of hunger, at SowetanLive. And also, It’s crucial to look for the warning signs, at SowetanLive

Poyntons building housing correctional services HQ reopened after safety shutdown

News24 reports that officials of the Department of Justice and Correctional Services were expected to return to work on Tuesday as the Poyntons Building had been given the green light to resume occupation.  "The emergency services department of the City of Tshwane has rescinded the prohibition notice on the head office of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) at Poyntons Building in Tshwane, with immediate effect," the department's Logan Maistry said in a statement on Monday.  The building, which houses the Department of Correctional Services head office, was shut down by Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga last Wednesday on the basis that it was unsafe.  "The emergency services department conducted an inspection on 16 September 2018 on the requirements as agreed to during the onsite meeting on 13 September 2018, and is subsequently satisfied that critical requirements were implemented as agreed to," Maistry explained.  Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said in a statement that he was also satisfied that safety concerns around the building had been addressed.

Read this report by Canny Maphanga in full at News24

Unions hail Msimanga's decision to investigate health and safety of Tswane metro buildings

Pretoria News reports that trade unions have welcomed the decision by Tshwane executive mayor Solly Msimanga for the metro to investigate whether or not municipal buildings were compliant with health and safety regulations.  The Public Servants Association (PSA) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) have been demanding that the government should maintain buildings that threaten the health and safety of workers.  Msimanga made the announcement just days after he closed the non-compliant Poyntons building in the CBD, the home of the Correctional Services Department.  He advised that:  “I have written to the city manager instructing him to immediately institute a comprehensive investigation and report on the occupational health and safety standards, and fire compliance for City of Tshwane buildings.  This will include buildings owned or occupied by the city.  At the centre of these audits is our goal to preserve innocent lives.  Naturally, government buildings house hundreds of people, thus making it all the more urgent to ensure that buildings found to be non-compliant stop operating before disaster strikes.”

Read this report by James Mahlkwane in full at Pretoria News


Sibanye’s bid for Lonmin clears Competition Commission hurdle, with job loss conditions

BusinessLive reports that Sibanye-Stillwater’s all-share bid for world number three platinum miner Lonmin cleared an important hurdle on Monday.  The Competition Commission (CC) recommended the transaction with conditions, particularly on job losses and procurement deals.  The Competition Tribunal will have the final say on the transaction.  By acquiring Lonmin, Sibanye will become the world’s second-biggest platinum producer after Anglo American Platinum.  Among key CC concerns were the loss of up to 3,000 jobs it calculated would result from Sibanye taking over Lonmin’s mines and processing plants, the continuation of procurement deals Lonmin has with communities and other smaller parties, as well as agreements with the Bapo ba Mogale community and continuation of social and labour plans.  The job losses were over and above the 12,600 positions Lonmin has said it was cutting over a three-year period as a result of closing old, depleted and unprofitable mines.  One of the conditions of approval of the deal was the creation of three “short-term mining projects which were earmarked to avoid retrenchments”.  “The employment savings on two of these three projects are likely to materialise in the event that platinum prices increase in future and mining costs are maintained at certain levels,” the CC said.  The CC also said Sibanye had to continue with Lonmin’s procurement deals with black-owned companies and individuals.

Read this report by Allan Seccombe in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Conditions set as Sibanye obtains approval for R5bn Lonmin takeover, at Business Report. And also, Sibanye, Lonmin still committed to merger after competition watchdog decision, at Mining Weekly

AngloGold Ashanti sets example by signing wage agreement with Amcu, Solidarity and Uasa

BusinessLive reports that AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) was the first major gold producer to sign a three-year wage agreement with three unions, staving off the potential strike looming over three other gold producers.  Although AGA was one of four companies under the auspices of the Minerals Council SA (previously called the Chamber of Mines) involved in the talks with four unions, it was the first to reach an agreement after the unions declared disputes with Sibanye-Stillwater, Harmony Gold and Village Main Reef.  But the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), representing nearly 33% of AGA’s 7,918 employees, has not signed the agreement.  A new shift system included in the agreement was important for AGA’s loss-making Mponeng mine, said Chris Sheppard, the head of the SA business.  AGA agreed to increase pay for its lowest-earning employees by R1,000 a month, which includes a R300 a month payment for agreeing to working the new shift arrangement in the first year.  The second and third years of the deal would entail wages rising another R1,000 a month, respectively.  Miners & Artisans and Officials will receive 6.5% for the first year and 6.5% or CPI, whichever is the greater, for the second and third years, respectively.  Amcu has urged the other firms to follow AngloGold’s offer.  With the unions in dispute with the other producers, talks are being facilitated by the CCMA.

Read this report by Allan Seccombe in full at BusinessLive. Read too, All AngloGold Ashanti workers will be earning R14k in three years’ time, at The Citizen. Read the MCSA’s press statement, which includes further details of the agreement, at Gold Wage Negotiations

Death does not deter zama-zamas

SowetanLive reports that illegal miners – better known as zama -zamas – had to blast open a rock that had crushed their colleagues to death in a disused mine shaft near Angelo informal settlement in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni.  The group then wrapped the five bodies in plastic sacks and dumped them in a veld fearing their deaths would bring the attention of authorities to their illegal activity.  The bodies were brought to the surface on Saturday and police made the gruesome discovery of the five rotting bodies after locals alerted them to the crime scene.  Miners who had been with the deceased before they were killed told Sowetan the five had been working on the site where they died even though they knew it was dangerous.  One man, 28, who has been working at illegal mines since he was 16, said he would continue to go underground because he could not find work.  “I know that going there is risky.  It’s either you come back with money or they carry your body out but we do not have a choice because we cannot find work.  I take care of my parents, children and three brothers,” he indicated.  Another man, 24, said though he feared for his life, he would continue to mine in the shaft because that was his only means of earning a living.  Community leader Kenneth Ngobeni said:  “We are shocked that so many people died at once. The number of young people who come here is alarming. Most of them are minors who do not have experience in mining. We have learned to accept them in our community because they come from countries that have a lot of challenges.”

Read this report by Promise Marupeng & Pertunia Mafokwane in full at SowetanLive

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Mandela Mining Precinct to bolster mining sector, at Mining Weekly


Liberty’s ‘organisational redesign’ raises fear of job losses

Business Report writes that discontent is brewing at listed financial services company Liberty Holdings, with employees raising fears that their jobs could be on the line if the group implements its “revised organisational design” announced in July.  Apparently, executives had been dropping hints of impending retrenchments to their teams in frustration.  An (unnamed) source said:  “As things stand, some employees have stopped working until they know their fate.  Others are consulting external labour law experts to get advice on pending restructuring and possible job losses in the absence of clear and transparent communication from leadership.”  Liberty announced an organisational redesign last month, indicating that the strategy would be implemented in the second half of the year.  The group has about 6,000 full-time employees in a non-unionised environment.  Liberty said on Monday that it was committed to treating its employees with dignity and would ensure a transparent and fair process.  Meanwhile, another source claimed that Liberty had allowed leaders in its departments to get away scot-free from sexual harassment allegations and complainants were victimised.  Liberty poured cold water over the allegations, but was unable to indicate how many sexual harassment complaints it had received, investigated and finalised.

Read this report by Kabelo Khumalo in full at Business Report


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page