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, 26 September 2018.


MINING LABOUR

Mantashe to unpack finalised Mining Charter on Thursday

Mining Weekly reports that Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe will on Thursday morning brief members of the media on the finalised version of the Mining Charter.  The long-awaited release of a renewed charter comes a week after Minister of Communications Nomvula Mokonyane confirmed that it had been approved by Cabinet.  The charter caused bad blood between industry employers’ organisation the Chamber of Mines (now known as the Minerals Council SA) and former Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, with the Council threatening court action to stop it being instituted.  In June, Mantashe committed to developing a charter which would ensure that mine workers and mining communities reaped the benefits of mining companies' operations, while shielding companies from unnecessary volatility.  Trade union Solidarity told Fin24 that it was confident that the latest version of the charter would have as few points of contention as possible for the mining sector and labour.

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly

Northern Cape organisation assisting illegal miners to get permits

SABC News reports that the Northern Cape Artisanal Small Scale Miners organisation is assisting illegal diamond miners in the Namaqualand region to obtain mining permits.  The move will eventually assist miners in Port Nolloth and Springbok in managing their own cooperatives and to legally buy and sell diamonds.  Artisanal miners in Kimberley obtained their mining permits from the Department of Mineral Resources in June.  The organisation’s Chelle Goliath said that the same could be done for Namaqualand’s current illegal miners, viz.:  “We get the names of people that are busy mining; we get all their documents.  There are usually 10 people per cooperative, so we can end up with 40 cooperative(s), 50 cooperative(s), depending on the amount of people.  The first cooperative was submitted already for Namaqualand.  What we’re now doing is having a look at the GIS (geographic information system) system to see what land different people are mining on, so we can determine ownership of the land.”

This short report by Refilwe Mekoa is at SABC News


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Health department go-slow at Civitas building scuppers projects, stops life-saving drugs

The Citizen reports that many licensing and registration applications are not being processed at the Civitas Building headquarters of the health department in Pretoria while staff are protesting the “unsafe” condition of the building.  One unemployed health practitioner’s dream of opening a clinic in Mafikeng has been shattered as the strike delayed her application being processed, resulting in her losing the entire project.  With staff protesting against the conditions of the building for several months, applications have not been touched for weeks.  Staff appeared to be on a go-slow at the building on Tuesday, with some demonstrating outside, while others worked from laptops in the building foyer.  The employees have vowed never to enter the building again, claiming it was only 20% compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  This has apparently affected the department “very badly” as the protesters have stopped others who want to work.  According to health minister Aaron Motsoaledi, the pharmaceutical industry has been severely affected, since the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) is also housed in the building.  Motsoaledi said he continued to report to his office, situated on the 28th floor, as the conditions were not serious enough to warrant a shut-down.  The Public Servants Association’s Peter Moloi, who represents the staff, said the Department of Public Works agreed to assist in addressing their safety and health concerns, but that has not happened.

Read this report by Rorisang Kgosana in full at The Citizen


LABOUR MARKET / JOBS

SA lost 69,000 jobs in second quarter of 2018

Fin24 reports that employment in SA's non-agricultural formal sector dropped by 69,000 between March and June 2018, Statistics SA announced on Wednesday in its latest Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES) bulletin.  The QES results are based on a sample survey conducted by Stats SA and include ‘snapshot’ findings on employment in the non-agricultural formal sector.  The QES bulletin does not provide an official unemployment rate.  The data indicated that non-agricultural formal sector employment dropped from 9,817,000 in March 2018 to 9,748,000 in June 2018.  Among the sectors which exhibited decreases were community services (-67 000 or -2.5%); manufacturing (-13 000 or -1.1%); and mining and quarrying (-2 000 or -0.4%).  Increases were reported in trade (+7,000 or 0.3%); business services (+7,000 or 0.3%), and construction (+1,000 or 0.2%).  The decrease between March and June followed a quarter-on-quarter increase in the first quarter of 2018.  Stats SA reported in June that SA had added 56,000 jobs between December 2017 and March 2018.

Read this report in full at Fin24. Read too, SA's jobless rate ticks up in the second quarter, at BusinessLive


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

KPMG still losing South African staff and clients from Gupta fallout

Bloomberg reports that KPMG in SA is continuing to lose staff and clients more than a year after issuing a public apology for some of the work it did in the country, according to sources familiar with the matter.  A team responsible for US cross-border transactions in Africa apparently quit because of limited workflow.  In addition, Dimension Data Holdings became the latest firm to desert KPMG, passing an R80 million auditing contract to rival Ernst & Young.  The latest revelations show KPMG is struggling to restore trust since being criticised last year over work done for the Gupta family, who are accused of using political connections including former president Jacob Zuma to siphon off state funds.   In June, KPMG’s SA unit said headcount slumped to 2,200 from 3,400 a year earlier, with consultations for further reductions under way.  It has lost clients this year including Barclays Africa Group SA’s Auditor-General.  Not all customers have left the firm.  Old Mutual is waiting for the auditor to report back on an internal review before making a decision.  The firm has introduced a number of safeguards and is encouraged by the number of clients that continued to retain its services, a KPMG spokesman indicated.

Read this report by Loni Prinsloo & John Bowker in full at Moneyweb

SABC gives reassurance that it will follow the law to the letter in retrenchments

Timeslive reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says it will scrupulously follow the Labour Relations Act (LRA) in respect of possible retrenchments at the financially struggling public broadcaster.  Chairman of the board, Bongumusa Makhathini, on Tuesday addressed the National Assembly's portfolio committee on communications at an urgent meeting convened to deal with issues related to the SABC.  He told MPs that it was not an accurate reflection that the corporation’s turnaround strategy only focused on retrenching staff and that such a notion ignored that a lot of work that was being done to drive the corporation forward.  Makhathini pointed out that in 2009 one of the Treasury’s conditions for a government guarantee to the broadcaster was that it should reduce employee costs in order to be sustainable, but in 2018 employee costs were still the biggest cost driver and continued to be out of step as a percentage of revenue.  “It is sitting at about 42% of the total revenue‚ which is an anomaly‚” said Makhathini.  He restated that with regards to section 189 of the LRA “that is a very tightly drafted legislation requirement and processes which the SABC intends to follow to the letter”.  He confirmed that the SABC had engaged with organised labour and employees to communicate to them that the broadcaster contemplated embarking on the section 189 (i.e. retrenchment) process.

Read this report by Andisiwe Makinana in full at Timeslive. Read too, SABC consulting workers on restructuring, possible retrenchments, at The Citizen. And also, SABC executives mum on employee numbers in retrenchment plan, at SABC News

Job axe at SABC to fall across the board

BusinessLive reports that the looming retrenchments at the cash-strapped SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) will affect all occupational levels, including senior management, parliament heard on Tuesday.  Briefing parliament’s communications portfolio committee on the public broadcaster’s turnaround strategy, SABC executives also said that they were pushing for an increase in TV licence fees in an effort to boost revenue.  The SABC, which recorded a net loss of R622m in the financial year ended March, is in the midst of a severe financial crisis.  It has mainly attributed its losses over the years to declining advertising revenue across all platforms, coupled with deteriorating TV licence fee collection.  The broadcaster has also bemoaned the fact that it is underfunded by government.  While the board maintains it has no choice but to lay off hundreds of workers to remain sustainable, communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane and various MPs are strongly opposed to the job cuts.  SABC spends more than R3bn a year on the salaries of more than 3,000 employees.  The organisation paid just more than R45m in salaries to its 40 senior managers in the financial year ended March.  SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe said that "staff optimisation will focus across the board.  We are not just focusing on the lower levels.”

Read this report by Bekezela Phakathi in full at BusinessLive


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

If we don’t get financial help we won’t be able to pay November salaries‚ warns SABC chair

Timeslive reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) needs urgent financial help otherwise it may not be able to pay salaries in November – a situation which has already hit independent producers.  Board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini told Timeslive in an exclusive interview on Tuesday:  “Our financial situation‚ I’m not going to lie‚ it is in a very‚ very critical state.  If we don’t get the financial help‚ come November we are going to struggle.”  He was speaking in the wake of a six-hour meeting with the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on communications and added:  “We are in a very financially dire situation and it is the reason why we pushed very hard to get the turnaround approved by the board.  We now have taken the portfolio committee through this turnaround so they understand the comprehensive overall things that we are driving to get the SABC on a better footing.”  Makhathini said they have already been struggling to pay independent producers‚ namely people who provide content which is critical to the mandate of the SABC.  “If the situation is not arrested‚ it will escalate and get to the employees‚” he warned.  The SABC has until now been prioritising employees’ salaries.  “But at the end of the day‚ you can’t keep on pushing this thing down.  At some point you need to get real help‚ real intervention‚” said the board chairman.

Read this report by Andisiwe Makinana in full at Timeslive

Cash-strapped Denel still awaits R1bn state guarantee needed to pay workers and suppliers

BusinessLive reports that cash-strapped arms manufacturer Denel has not yet received the additional R1bn guarantee it has requested from the government, a move that could have serious implications for its cash flow.  The state-owned company, which has government-guaranteed debt of R2.7bn, had asked for a further guarantee and a cash injection to recapitalise the business.  The size of the requested cash assistance has not been disclosed.  The manufacturer, which along with other state-owned enterprises has been weighed down by allegations of mismanagement and corruption, slipped into such a severe financial crisis that in December it needed a government guarantee to be able to pay its workers and suppliers.  The company on Tuesday confirmed that it had not, at the moment, received a further guarantee from the government.  Denel said the recapitalisation was still under consideration and that it would know during the medium-term budget policy statement to be tabled in parliament on 24 October whether it would receive this.

Read this report by Genevieve Quintal in full at BusinessLive


EXECUTIVE PAY

Proposed Companies Act amendments will see executive pay disclosure

BusinessLive reports that the pay for prescribed officers of companies — typically executives who are in a position to influence management of the enterprise — will have to be disclosed in the audited annual financial statements if proposed amendments to the Companies Act become law.  Currently, the act only requires the disclosure of the remuneration and benefits of directors.  Norton Rose Fulbright director Stephen Kennedy-Good commented that the proposal to require such disclosure would strengthen transparency and good corporate governance.  It would allow shareholders to see what top executives and senior management — including CEOs and CFOs when they were not directors — were being paid.  This would be in line with international trends.  Changes have also been proposed with regards to the appointment of auditors.  The Companies Act presently prohibits a person who has enjoyed a close working relationship with the company — such as a director, a prescribed officer, employee or consultant — within the past five years from being appointed the auditor of the company.  The bill proposes to reduce the five-year period to two years.  Further technical amendments are also proposed.

Read this report by Linda Ensor in full at BusinessLive


MEDICAL SCHEMES / NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Plan of unified medical scheme for all public servants hits first big roadblock

BusinessLive reports that the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) has hit its first stumbling block over its proposed consolidation of all the medical schemes for public servants with the Government Employees Medical Scheme (Gems).  The Public Servants Association (PSA) said on Tuesday that it had "serious reservations" about the plan.  The measure is contained in a CMS discussion document published last week, and is in line with the government’s white paper on National Health Insurance (NHI).  The PSA’s 242,000 members make up about a fifth of the public service.  The union claimed that Gems did not have the capacity to absorb more beneficiaries.  "Gems needs to be cleaned up first," said PSA spokesperson Tahir Maepa, who added that they have received numerous complaints about Gems, that its solvency ratio was below the statutory requirement of 25% and that it did not have the capacity to deal with rampant fraud.  Gems has about 1.8 million members and provides cover to more than half of all eligible public servants.  Maepa also warned that Gems was becoming a monopoly and that when it became the only medical aid for public servants, it “will do as it wishes."

Read this report by Tamar Kahn in full at BusinessLive


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Fired Alexander Forbes boss vows to fight instant dismissal

Business Report writes that sacked Alexander Forbes boss Andrew Darfoor indicated on Tuesday that he would be fighting his instant dismissal.  He indicated that his dismissal, which shook the financial services profession, had not been not harmonious.  “I can confirm that my relationship with Alexander Forbes has ended.  I am not happy about the outcome and will deal with it in due course,” Darfoor said, without elaborating.  The firm earlier stated that it had parted ways with Darfoor, after only two years in his position as group chief executive, as the company had lost confidence and “trust” in him.  Investors had apparently questioned his strategy to drive growth through small acquisitions.  Dissatisfaction also mounted over his decision to push to get more business from retail investors rather than core institutional clients.  The Nonkululeko Nyembezi-led board said that it was now on the lookout for a new chief executive.  Marilyn Ramplin, an independent non-executive director of Alexander Forbes, will be the interim group chief executive.  Alexander Forbes is in the midst of its Ambition 2022 strategic plan designed to transform its business by unlocking potential.

Read this report by Kabelo Khumalo in full at Business Report


OTHER REPORTS

Top Germiston cop wins damages from police force n ‘Johnnie Walker’ libel case

Pretoria News reports on the case of a former station commander at the Germiston police station who instituted a damages claim against the police force and a fellow officer after he was bad-mouthed in a document issued to his superiors.  In the document, it was claimed that he, among others, often used mess money to buy cases of Johnnie Walker whisky for his own use.  It was also claimed that he used mess money to buy tyres for his vehicle and that he had an improper relationship with a constable.  Brigadier Jeshop Shabangu said the affidavit in which these “grievances” were set out and sent to his bosses was defamatory and injured his feelings.  Shabangu, a deputy cluster commander in the SAPS, said he was a police officer of high standing and the allegations against him had hurt him and his career.  He pointed out that he had been made out to be a corrupt and dishonest thief who had abused his powers and who was not worthy of the rank he held.  He moreover felt aggrieved that the fellow officer refused to withdraw the statement and apologise to him.  The police accepted liability and agreed that the allegations were defamatory.  However, Pretoria High Court Judge Natvarlal Ranchod was of the view that the R2m damages claimed by Shabangu was somewhat inflated, although the latter did later reduce the amount to R500,000.  The judge indicated that R50,000 in damages was fair compensation.  

Read this report by Zelda Venter in full at Pretoria News


NEWS BRIEFS

  • Off-duty Humansdorp cop arrested for robbery while refuelling getaway car, at Timeslive
  • ‘We’re coming for you,’ Cyril promises corrupt SA officials in UN address, at The Citizen
  • Nugent inquiry told of concern about no protection for SARS whistle-blowers, at IOL News
  • Forget the ‘cubicle farm’ if you want to attract Gen Z employees, at Timeslive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page