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, 27 September 2018.


TOP READ – COSATU’S FORTUNES

Having hit rock bottom, Cosatu hopes things can only get better, but isn’t preparing for the changing world of work

In a comprehensive analysis, Amy Musgrave writes that labour federation Cosatu has come out of its 13th national congress emboldened by the idea that things can only get better and at some level this is true.  Cosatu has hit rock bottom over the past six years with many self-inflicted wounds.  Also, the economy has not been kind to workers and, by extension, to unions.  The federation has lost thousands of members to retrenchments, casualisation or workers simply concluding that they can no longer afford to pay union dues.  Superficially, there are encouraging signs.  For the first time in its 32-year history Cosatu has a woman as its president and Zingiswa Losi has vowed that her elevation will lead to an increased focus on women’s struggle for equality in the workplace.  Tackling such struggles may boost Cosatu’s appeal to potential members.  Women make up an increasing proportion of the workforce but have lower levels of unionisation than their male counterparts.  Moreover, Cosatu’s Young Workers Forum is meant to come up with ideas to attract younger workers into the labour movement.  But, these potential recruits are often in jobs and workplaces that old-style unions are battling to understand, let alone organise.  Indeed, the elephant in the conference hall was the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and the unfathomable changes it is already bringing to the world of work, systems of production and the very notion of what a "job" is.  Musgrave observes that the federation has not even scratched the surface in understanding the changes the world is living through in the early 21st century.  She goes on to analyse the challenges and responses by affiliates.  She concludes that at this point “it becomes clear that no matter how much Cosatu may seem to have hit the bottom, it is possible to go down further still.”

Read this informative analysis at Financial Mail

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • New leaders believe Cosatu is rising again, at BusinessLive
  • Cosatu misses its chance to put workers’ interests back on the table, at Moneyweb


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Health employees in Civitas building refusing to go to work, saying they fear for their lives

BusinessLive reports that while the Department of Health is fighting trade unions in court over the safety of the Civitas building that house its headquarters in Pretoria, its officials admitted to the worrying state of the building months ago.  In documents submitted as part of the Public Servants Association’s (PSA’s) case to the labour court, senior departmental managers concurred with workers that the state of the infamous building was harmful.  Several investigations conducted into the health and safety of the building have also concluded against the department.  Employees stationed in the building are refusing to go to work, saying they fear for their lives due to respiratory ailments, among others.  The department apparently wants to take disciplinary action against the workers as it sees their action as an illegal strike.  Following complaints by workers that they suffered from ailments including dizziness, headaches, nausea and fatigue, the PSA and the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) took the matter up.  Civitas was originally built in 1971 to accommodate the home affairs department and was renovated between 2007 and 2010.  It houses 1,500 employees in its 29-storey south tower and eight-storey north tower.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive

JMPD officer stable after accidentally shooting herself following high speed chase

Timeslive reports that a Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officer is in a stable condition after she accidentally shot herself following a high speed chase after a criminal.  "The officer is in a stable condition in hospital.  Just before 1am [on Wednesday morning]‚ officers were chasing a silver VW Polo from Sophiatown to Parktown‚” said JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar.  The suspect was stopped at a roadblock‚ but he drove off and a chase by JMPD officers ensued.  Minnaar said the officers arrested the Polo driver for being in possession of an illegal firearm.  “After the arrest‚ the female officer put her firearm in the holster.  A shot went off and she accidentally shot herself in the thigh.”

This short report by Nomahlubi Jordaan is at Timeslive


MINING LABOUR

No agreement yet in gold mining wage negotiations

ANA reports that wage negotiations in the gold mining sector between three gold producers and four trade unions have yet to yield results.  The negotiations between Harmony Gold, Sibanye-Stillwater and Village Main Reef on the one hand and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa on the other hand continued on Wednesday under the facilitation of the CCMA.  The unions have already signed a wage increase with AngloGold Ashanti.  The Minerals Council SA (MCSA – previously known as the Chamber of Mines), which represents the gold producers, said that while progress was made following extensive engagement between the parties, some unions requested and were granted certificates of non-resolution of a dispute by the CCMA.  These ‘strike’ certificates were granted to both Amcu and the NUM at Sibanye-Stillwater and to Amcu at Harmony.  However, the parties agreed to continue to engage with a view to reaching an agreement.  Further discussions between Sibanye-Stillwater and unions will continue, while Harmony will meet with the NUM, Uasa and Solidarity during the course of next week.  Village Main Reef and representative unions will meet again on 4 October.  

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read the Minerals Council’s press statement at Gold Wage Negotiations

Amcu, NUM granted certificates of nonresolution in wage talks with Sibanye-Stillwater

Mining Weekly reports that the CCMA has granted certificates of nonresolution of a dispute to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in respect of gold wage negotiations with Sibanye-Stillwater.  Amcu has also been granted a certificate of nonresolution regarding wage talks with Harmony Gold.  Solidarity, however, agreed to Harmony’s wage offer of a 6.3% increase for 2018 and the following two years, for miners, artisans and officials, and a respective R700, R750 and R825 increase for 2018 and the following two years, for category four to eight employees.  Harmony also increased the housing allowance by R100 each year for the next three years, bringing it at the end of the period to R2,400.  Although the Harmony offer of 6.3% is slightly lower than the 6.5% increase offered by AngloGold Ashanti, Solidarity said it was still a win-win that would not impair the company’s sustainability, but would reduce financial pressure on employees, since the increase was higher than the inflation rate.  Harmony will meet with the NUM, Uasa and Solidarity next week.  Meanwhile, further talks between Sibanye and the unions will continue, since the miner reduced its 5.2% offer further to 5% on Wednesday.  Village Main Reef will continue its engagement with unions on 4 October.

This report appeared at Mining Weekly. Read too, Biggest Sibanye gold unions get approval to strike over pay, at Moneyweb

New Mining Charter won’t make everyone happy, but it is a consensus, says Mantashe

BusinessLive reports that Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe told the media at a briefing on Thursday morning that the new Mining Charter represented a consensus among stakeholders in the industry, but would not make everyone happy.  The highlights, as outlined by the minister, include a number of compromises related to the contentious aspect of ownership.  The charter was approved by the cabinet last week and provides some long-awaited policy certainty.  An earlier draft version drew strong opposition from various parties and faced legal challenges from mining houses.  The charter now states that a holder of an existing mining right who has already achieved a minimum 26% black shareholding will be deemed compliant, even if the empowerment partner has since exited.  This will be for the duration of the mining right, but not the life of mine, Mantashe noted.  “The recognition is not applicable upon renewal, and is not transferrable to a new owner in the case of a transfer or sale,” he pointed out.  More generally, holders of mining rights will be required to raise the level of black ownership to at least 30% from 26% within five years.

A short report by Lisa Steyn is at BusinessLive. See too, Mantashe maintains 30% black ownership target in charter, at Moneyweb. And also, Mantashe confirms gazetting of Mining Charter 3, at Mining Weekly

Employees, communities to get 10% free stake under new mining charter

Reuters reports that Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe unveiled a new mining charter on Thursday, a crucial step to attracting further investment to a sector laid low by depressed prices, soaring costs and murky policy.  The third version of the charter requires miners to provide their local communities and employees with a free 10% stake, a policy some companies may be pressed to bear but which unions say is needed to secure social peace.  The charter raises the level of black ownership as expected to 30% from 26% while providing breakdowns on how the stakes should be divided, with 20% for black business interests and 5% each for communities and employees.  “The community/employee stake is a 10% investment in peace and stability.  Current levels of mine community unrest and high number of industrial action creates a high level of instability,” Gideon du Plessis, general secretary of Solidarity commented.  The Minerals Council SA, which represents most of SA’s mining companies, said it would comment later after it had studied the document.  Among the controversial provisions in previous drafts that were dropped was one that would have required companies to pay 1% of earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation to employees and communities if no dividends were paid for six years.  At the board level and among top management, the charter requires 50% black representation and 20% female representation.

Read this report by Patricia Aruo in full at Moneyweb. See too, Mantashe confirms gazetting of Mining Charter 3, at Mining Weekly


PROTESTS / MARCHES / CAMPAIGNS

Cape Town firefighters stage picket on Wednesday for fair working conditions

News24 reports that firefighters at 30 stations across Cape Town held a lunchtime picket on Wednesday over their working conditions, including the lack of danger pay, promotion obstacles and the decreasing rate of pay for 24-hour shifts.  Off-duty firefighters held signs at the Roeland Street station, while those who were on duty did not participate, but stood in a line outside in their uniform.  They jumped into a fire truck and sped off when an emergency call came through during the picket.  Firefighters from across the peninsula said they were aggrieved that they worked around 240 hours a month, but were only paid for 160 hours.  They worked 24-hour shifts, a portion of which time was on standby at the station.  This time was apparently paid back with a standby allowance of 22.8% of the hourly rate.  The firefighters said they should be paid for the full hour because they were still at work.  One employee claimed:  "We are working outside of the basic conditions of employment.  Our fire agreement has lapsed.  The firefighters also want danger pay because of the inherent dangers of the job.  There was also unhappiness about the monthly meal allowance of R170, and policies on acting allowances and promotions.  The City's safety and security director Richard Bosman said:  "We are currently engaging with personnel through their trade unions on the matter in order to reach an amicable resolution."

Read this report by Jenna Etheridge in full at News24


LABOUR MARKET / JOBS / JOBS SUMMIT

No let-up in SA’s bleeding of jobs

Business Report writes that SA’s troubled economy continues to bleed jobs, with the battered manufacturing sector letting go of 13,000 workers in the second quarter of the year.  The Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES) released by Statistics SA on Wednesday showed that employment decreased by 69,000 quarter-on-quarter to 9,748,000 in June.  The job numbers in the mining and utilities sectors also underwhelmed, with each sector recording losses of 2,000 jobs.  Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) economist Marique Kruger said the current low growth posed a serious challenge to dealing with the unemployment crisis and effectively implementing the economic stimulus plan.  “Seifsa is seriously concerned about the jobs lost in the manufacturing sector during the second quarter and eagerly looks forward to the implementation of the economic stimulus plan announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week,” Kruger said.  With unemployment currently at 27.2%, a jobs and investment summit will soon be hosted aimed at bringing in new investments and boosting jobs creation.  “The outlook for job creation does not look promising for the remainder of 2018 as the expected rebound in GDP growth in the second half will be modest,” said NKC African Economics’ Gerrit van Rooyen.

Read this report by Kabelo Khumalo in full at Business Report. Read too, Economists call on government to act now on staggering job losses, at The Citizen

SA's abysmal unemployment numbers will shape next week’s jobs summit

BusinessLive writes that the significant decline in the number of employed South Africans is set to influence proceedings at next week’s jobs summit significantly.  The number of employed people fell by 69,000 in the second quarter, data from Stats SA on Wednesday showed.  President Cyril Ramaphosa called for the jobs summit to look at what was needed to grow the economy and make it more productive.  Announcing his economic stimulus plan last week, Ramaphosa said there would be a reprioritisation of spending towards investments in agriculture and rural economies, which analysts said could reduce unemployment.  Many summits about creating jobs have failed so far, noted Ann Bernstein of the Centre for Development and Enterprise.  "SA’s approach to employment has failed because too many of the country’s policies raise the cost of doing business and reduce the economic growth rate," she opined.  Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene has warned that in order to make a dent in the unemployment rate, growth in SA should reach 5%.  While business is confident that the jobs summit will be a positive step, labour movements have been wary.  "Both [the] government and business are showing disdain in discussing far-reaching macro-economic, industrial, trade and social policies that can take the country away from the current crisis we are confronted with," Nehawu’s Zola Saphetha stated.

Read this report by Sunita Menon in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SA’s population is booming and the economy is struggling to keep up, at Financial Mail
  • Job creation depends on B-BBEE compliance, says commissioner, at Engineering News


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Public sector wage hikes lead to large increase in average take-home pay in August

Fin24 reports that backdated salary payments in the public sector in August continued to spur the increase in BankservAfrica’s (BSA’s) Take-home Pay Index .  Real salaries showed improvements on both an annual and a monthly basis, BSA announced on Wednesday.  Shergeran Naidoo, head of stakeholder engagements at BSA, indicated that average South African take-home salaries increased by 4.7% in real terms on a yearly basis.  This represented the largest annual percentage increase in the BSA dataset since 2012.  “In August, we saw the monthly average real take-home pay reach R14,460 in real terms,” he added.  August’s figure was 2.7% higher on a seasonally adjusted basis than July’s.  However, Naidoo said he expected the rate of increase to slow from the current, very high rate.  The take-home pay of the "typical person" - that is the person in the middle of the earnings distribution - showed an increase of 1.6% after inflation.  In real terms, the real average take-home pay was up by 4.4% since August 2013.  Well-known economist Mike Schüssler observed that the rate of take-home pay increase was likely to stay higher than usual as other wage settlements were still expected in the coming months from large sectors with many employees such as mining.  Real average private pensions (excluding old age grants and social pensions) increased by 4.2%, showing its slowest recent y/y increase.

Read this report by Carin Smith in full at Fin24


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Police take disciplinary steps against officer over gun on parliamentary precinct used for suicide

News24 reports that a police officer faces disciplinary proceedings after a parliamentary official committed suicide on the legislature's precinct two weeks ago – an incident which has raised security concerns at the national key point.  Lennox Garane took his own life in his office on 14 September.  Since then, there have been many questions about how he managed to get a gun onto the premises.  On Wednesday, the police told a joint meeting of the portfolio committees of police and public works that when Garane entered the 90 Plein Street building, where his office was based, he displayed his permit in the direction of the police's static protector stationed at the entrance.  However, he walked through without placing his bag through the x-ray machine.  "The static protector contravened the Static Protection Standard Operating Procedure by allowing Mr Garane to gain access to the building without screening," Major General Leon Rabie told the committees.  On 15 September, the officer in question was served with a notice of intended suspension.  Rabie also presented some "security deficiencies" identified at Parliament since the incident.  DA MP Zakhele Mbhele expressed concern that the morale of the police officers at Parliament contributed to lax security enforcement.

Read this report by Jan Gerber in full at News24. Read too, Parliament probes security after suicide, on page 6 of Sowetan of 27 September 2018


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Four prison officials arrested for assisting in foiled escape by Boksburg prisoner

Timeslive reports that four prison officials have been arrested for helping an inmate from the Boksburg Correctional Centre make an escape‚ the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) said on Wednesday.  The man was ultimately re-arrested hours after the escape attempt.  Initial reports were that one officer had been arrested and charged with aiding the escape.  There were also unconfirmed reports that the prisoner claimed to have paid R4‚000 to the officer to give him a gun and help him break free.  DCS spokesman Mocheta Monama said:  "I cannot confirm nor deny the allegations at this point.  Both internal and external investigations are continuing in order to uncover exactly what transpired."  Later on Wednesday‚ Monama said three additional officials had been arrested in connection with the saga.  The prisoner‚ Mxolisi Booi‚ had been serving an 18-year sentence for robbery.  Booi had fled from the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital on Tuesday while he was there for a check-up.

Read this report by Naledi Shange in full at Timeslive

 


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