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, 28 September 2018.


TOP STORY – JOBS SUMMIT

Cosatu warns this week’s Jobs Summit could be 'damp squib'

Fin24 reports that just days before the National Jobs Summit, Cosatu has cautioned that the event could turn into a talk shop and complained that the government and business have sent junior delegations to preparatory meetings.  "Officials are weak and lazy, we were promised DGs (directors-general) would attend meetings … we’ve yet to see this.  We are dealing with people who don’t have decision-making powers," the trade union federation’s parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks said.  He believes that the National Jobs Summit, which will be on Thursday and Friday in Midrand and which is being coordinated by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), could be a "damp squib".  It has been being touted by President Cyril Ramaphosa as an avenue to address the rising jobless rate.  Parks added that Cosatu did not have a choice and would “have to keep pushing” in the hope that Ramaphosa’s presence at the summit would “cajole” officials, but he warned that “government seems to lack creativity and will” to create jobs.  According to the government, the summit will focus on “collaborative and high-impact interventions to drive job creation, job retention and economic growth”.  The Presidency referred a request for comment to Nedlac, which did not respond to the questions.

Read this report by Tehillah Niselow in full at Fin24

South African’s dilemma is low-skill, low-wage jobs or fewer jobs

City Press reports that according to the Centre for Development and Enterprise’s (CDE’s) Ann Bernstein, South Africa faces either getting rid of the minimum wage and other policies or facing worsening unemployment.  She was speaking after a media briefing ahead of the Jobs Summit this week.  The CDE is an advocacy body for big businesses.  The National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) will convene the two-day summit on 4 & 5 October at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg.  Bernstein said among the major challenges that worsened unemployment in the country were bad policies such as the minimum wage and the collective bargaining system.  She pointed out that collective bargaining disadvantaged smaller employers because it imposed unavoidable wage demands on them.  Bernstein said the country needed a bold reform agenda:  “We need to change the approach to collective bargaining so that work seekers and smaller firms are not priced out of the market; reduce the cost of employing young people, especially in comparison to older, more experienced workers; and reduce subsidies being paid to firms that are capital and skill intensive.  She also claimed that the minimum wage of R20 per hour was another bad policy as some employers would not be able to afford it.  “Rather have low-skill, low-wage than no jobs.  That’s the big decision the country has to be make,” Bernstein opined.

Read this report by Lesetja Malope and view an infographic with unemployment facts and figures at City Press

NPC says jobless rate of 6% by 2030 an ‘impossible goal’ and 14% best that can be hoped for

BL Premium reports that the National Planning Commission (NPC) has slashed its most optimistic forecast of SA’s unemployment rate by 2030 in half and has warned of slow progress across the board in reaching the targets of the National Development Plan (NDP).  In its latest report on the economy, "The Crossroads: Accelerating progress towards the NDP’s vision 2030", the commission says a 6% unemployment rate by 2030 is an impossible goal.  According to the report, the best SA could hope to achieve by then was a jobless rate of 14%.  "While the democratic government achieved significant improvements in employment, poverty and growth over the decade up to 2008, SA is once again engaged in self-inflicted growth strangulation," the report begins.  It points outs that there is now a "clear and present danger" of the country falling into a spiral of falling investment and lower revenue.  The report warns against further tax hikes and calls for performance-based salaries in the public service.  But, it maintains that it is possible to boost SA’s growth rate to 3% a year within two years, and proposes, among other things, a review at the SA Revenue Service (Sars) to restore "tax buoyancy".  The commission proposes the establishment of a "social charter that is needed to strengthen alignment around the NDP".

Read this report by Karl Gernetzky in full at BL Premium (paywall access)

Cosatu demands civil service skills audit to determine costs of corruption and bloated management

Business Report writes that newly elected Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi has called on the government to conduct a thorough skills audit in the civil service to determine how much corruption and bloated management has cost the economy.  Speaking ahead of the Jobs Summit this week, Losi said the government should not start its mooted retrenchments at the lower levels of the public service.  In her view, it should look at how much the exit packages and golden handshakes that the government had paid to executives in state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which were supposed to drive economic growth and employment, had crippled the civil service.  Losi claimed that SOEs, such as the SABC, Eskom, Denel and SAA, had crumbled because of poor management and corruption.  “Who suffers at the end of the day when you are talking about retrenchments?  It’s ordinary workers while the ones dispensing patronage receive golden handshakes.”  The two-day Nedlac Jobs Summit is expected to take place from Thursday.  Last week, Statistics SA reported that unemployment in the country increased to 27.2% in the second quarter, with manufacturing shedding 13,000 jobs during the period.  Losi said the government and President Cyril Ramaphosa in particular should not expect to be treated with kid-gloves on retrenchments.  Attempts to cut jobs in the civil service would be met with fierce resistance by the federation.  Cosatu has identified beneficiation and value addition among initiatives that could create jobs and will table these and other initiatives at the summit.

Read this report by Luyolo Mkentane in full at Business Report

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Joblessness: It's just going to get worse, at City Press


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Labour department flouting its own health, safety regulations at offices in Durban building

Sunday Tribune writes that the Department of Labour (DOL) has zero tolerance for companies which do not comply with the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and Regulations, but has been accused of being in contravention of its own rules and failing to comply with legislation.  Staff at its offices at the Royal Hotel in Durban claim they are exposed to unhygienic and unsafe working conditions to which the management has allegedly turned a blind eye.  The department has been leasing 11 floors at the Royal Hotel for more than 10 years.  The challenges encountered by staff include being overcrowded to a point that some employees have to work in spaces meant to be passageways and to endure unpleasant odours from a carpet as a result of a ceiling which leaks when it rains.  They also complain about a lack of cleaners, and waste piling up in corridors and toilets.  In addition, air-conditioners are allegedly faulty and windows kept shut.  “There’s no compliance with OHS and our inspectors are not acting on this because they fear the management,” said one employee.  A DOL spokesperson said management was aware of the situation and had engaged the landlord to address the leakages.

Read this report by Siphelele Buthelezi in full at Sunday Tribune

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Tebogo Khoduga: Born a firefighter, growing into a hero, at The Citizen
  • Inside the Joburg hellfire: If you didn't have a cellphone, you died, at Timeslive
  • No debriefing after fatal Joburg blaze‚ firefighters claim, at Timeslive
  • Outrage as another government building catches fire, at Timeslive


MINING LABOUR

Mines win some concessions in latest mining charter round

City Press reports that the latest version of the Mining Charter, which was published on Thursday, has made some further concessions to the mining industry, especially around ownership.  But it retained procurement targets that the mines have called “impossible”.  Also, it has also caused widespread confusion by introducing the concept of a “carried interest” for workers and communities totalling 10% – which is not free, but must cost nothing to the beneficiaries and not be debt-financed.  At a briefing last week, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe and deputy director-general for mineral policy Mmadikeledi Malebe struggled to explain how this would work.  Another major departure from the previous charter is that the shares given to workers and communities are permanently “nontransferable”, meaning that employee share schemes set up in the past that paid out billions to workers when they “vested” are now impossible.  The new charter has further entrenched the “once empowered, always empowered” rule the mines have insisted on, backed up by a declaratory order by the High Court that changing the rules after issuing a right would be illegal.  In June, the draft charter gave existing mining rights holders five years to increase their BEE ownership from the old target of 26% to 30%.  This charter now allows existing mining right holders to stay at 26% until their mining rights expire.  In other concessions, the new charter has removed a new designation of beneficiaries of transformation as “black people” in the June version and reverted to the conventional language of “historically disadvantaged South Africans”.  The effect is that the employment and ownership targets will now again count white women as legitimate beneficiaries.

Read this report by Dewald van Rensburg in full at City Press. Read too, Law firms see benefits of gazetted Mining Charter 3, MPRDA amendment Bill removal, at Mining Weekly. And also, Mantashe hopes new Mining Charter will serenade investors, at Moneyweb


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Denel fails to pay senior staff in full in September due to ‘liquidity challenges’

Reuters reports that state-owned arms manufacturer Denel did not pay senior staff their salaries in full in September, the company confirmed on Friday.  The company has been grappling with a liquidity crunch after becoming embroiled in corruption scandals during former president Jacob Zuma’s scandal-plagued tenure.  “In September management salaries were not paid in full,” Denel spokeswoman Vuyelwa Qinga indicated, adding the cuts were due to “liquidity challenges”.  Executives were paid 80% of their salaries while specialists were paid 85%.  Qinga said regular employees were paid in full and that the company was working with the government to find a solution to its funding challenges.  In April, President Cyril Ramaphosa oversaw the appointment of a new board at Denel and the company subsequently suspended its chief financial officer over misconduct allegations.  According to labour unions, it is critical that Denel receives financial support – either via additional government guarantees or a capital injection.

Read this report by Alexander Winning in full at Moneyweb


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama given 10 days to motivate why he shouldn’t be fired

BusinessLive reports that Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama has been given 10 days to motivate why his contract with the state-owned entity should not be terminated.  This after he was fingered in investigations by law firms Werksmans and MNS Attorneys, as well as the treasury, in allegations of impropriety linked to the R54bn purchase of locomotives from General Electric, Bombardier Transport, China South Rail and China North Rail.  In the letter informing Gama of the intention to terminate his contract, Transnet board chair Popo Molefe said the investigations into the locomotives showed that Gama’s conduct had been inconsistent with the corporate culture of the new board, his fiduciary obligations and Transnet’s policies.  He also said Gama had shown disregard — that at times had been reckless — for transparency and accountability.  Molefe indicated in the letter that this had resulted in a loss of trust and confidence by the board in Gama’s ability to manage Transnet.  In August, the board issued notices of intention to suspend Gama and two other officials.  The board since decided to change Gama’s suspension to a termination of his contract.

Read this report by Genevieve Quintal in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Transnet head Gama given notice of termination, board confirms, at Mining Weekly. And also, Siyabonga Gama told to refund R151m in Gupta-linked payments on his way out, at BL Premium (paywall access)


SEXUAL HARASSMENT / ABUSE

Vavi warned after sexual harassment complaint by Numsa staff member

SowetanLive reports that trade union leader Zwelinzima Vavi has allegedly been caught up in a new sex scandal involving an employee, which resulted in him getting a warning.  Apparently a cleaner who worked for the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) filed a sexual harassment complaint against Vavi after his alleged conduct caused her stress.  Numsa is an affiliate of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), of which Vavi is the general secretary.  The complaint filed in September last year led to an informal inquiry against Vavi.  He was slapped with a caution and had to apologise to the complainant.  The details of the allegations made against Vavi and the processes followed thereafter are outlined in the Sowetan report.  He allegedly gave union officials an assurance that he would be more careful in future as to how he interacted with employees.  Responding to questions via a text message on Thursday, Vavi wrote:  "That allegation is rejected as false.  Interestingly, it was made last year and a due process was undertaken!  At the end it was accepted by all parties that there has been a complete misunderstanding and the matter was accordingly put to rest.  Interestingly, it's been resuscitated now for obvious reasons."  In 2013, Vavi, at the time general secretary of Cosatu, admitted to having unprotected sex with a married junior employee who accused him of rape.  The charges were later withdrawn.

Read this report by Mpho Sibanyoni in full at SowetanLive

Vavi 'sexual advances' allegation settled as a 'misunderstanding', says Saftu

News24 reports that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said in a statement on Friday that an allegation of unwanted sexual advances which a Numsa employee levelled against its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has been settled as a misunderstanding.  "For the record, it is true that a [National Union of Metalworkers of SA] staff member expressed her discomfort and made allegations that the Saftu general secretary made unwanted sexual advances and/or handled her inappropriately.  The allegations were made during September 2017.  On the same day these allegations were brought to the attention of the Saftu national office bearers, they acted swiftly," the statement indicated.  Numsa and Saftu gave the complainant a chance to "express herself" and say how she wanted the matter handled, while Vavi was asked separately for his version.  "He denied the allegations," according to the statement sent out by Vavi, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim and Saftu spokesperson Patrick Craven.  They said the woman asked for a formal apology from Vavi because she wanted it settled informally and kept confidential.  "To this end, both parties agreed in writing that there had been a misunderstanding between themselves."  The woman accepted this and stated twice that she did not want to take the matter any further.  "Saftu is satisfied that this matter was handled fairly, with the best interests of the complainant at the heart of the chosen process.  In our view, justice was served," the statement indicated.

Read this report by Jenni Evans & Sesona Nggakamba in full at News24. Read too, Zwelinzima Vavi plays down alleged assault on a Numsa cleaner, at BusinessLive. Read Saftu’s press statement at Saftu News

Year-old sexual harassment allegations are part of effort to discredit me, says Vavi

IOL News reports that general secretary of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) Zwelinzima Vavi continues to insist there is a “political agenda” against him.  This comes amid fresh sexual harassment allegations against him.  The Sowetan last week reported that Vavi had been given a warning following incidents involving a cleaner who worked for affiliate Numsa.  The report claimed that almost a year ago the woman lodged a sexual harassment complaint against Vavi after an alleged sequence of unsavoury requests by the labour federation boss that involved him asking her to massage his legs and feet as well as him trying to kiss her.  On Friday Vavi said the allegations were baseless.  “There is a record which that article selectively quotes where the alleged victim accepted there was a misunderstanding between her and myself and the matter was closed after she twice refused to take it forward,” he stated.  Five years ago, reports surfaced against Vavi, then general secretary of Cosatu, in which he was accused of having an affair with a married junior employee.  On Friday, Saftu said in a statement that the recent matter had been laid to rest and "justice was served" after the complainant said she was satisfied with how the matter had been resolved.

Read this report by Noni Mokati and IOL in full at IOL News

Wits denies professor’s claims about process inadequacies in sex probe

The Saturday Star reports that the Gender Equity Office (GEO) at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) has hit back at Professor Ivor Chipkin’s claims that the sexual harassment probe against him did not afford him enough time to respond.  The academic, media commentator and executive director at the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) resigned last month in the wake of a series of sexual harassment allegations.  His sudden resignation came after an extensive probe by the Wits GEO into his alleged inappropriate conduct.  In a response to queries from The Saturday Star, Chipkin said he had immediately stepped away from the workplace after being informed of the allegations in June.  He said he was never invited to give his response to the GEO.  But, GEO director Crystal Dicks dismissed Chipkin’s allegation, indicating:  “Those accused of committing offences are at all times provided with an opportunity to respond to these allegations before the conclusion of a university investigation.  They are provided with a further opportunity to present their defence during a disciplinary hearing.”  She declined to comment further on the Chipkin matter, saying the university guaranteed confidentiality surrounding such incidents.

A short report by Shain Germaner is at The Saturday Star


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO WORK

Metrorail commuter services in KZN to be restored on Monday

Sunday Tribune reports that Metrorail services in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) are expected to be operational from Monday after a shutdown last week.  Metrorail officials, Durban mayor Zandile Gumede and train commuters will meet to discuss new security measures.  Prasa Metrorail KZN spokesperson Zama Nomnganga said there would be tighter security at every train station.  Two Fridays ago, commuters attacked and burned the uMlazi ticket office, trains and staff vehicles parked near the station, leading to the suspension of the service.  No arrests have yet been made following damage estimated at R8-million.  This latest wave of public violence affecting rail infrastructure came after similar protests in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Read this report by Kwandokuhle Njoli in full at Sunday Tribune

Cape Town man gets hefty 15-year jail sentence for railway cable theft

ANA reports that a 33-year-old man will spend 15 years behind bars after being convicted of stealing overhead railway cables near the Heideveld train station in Cape Town.  Abrahams Isgak Terblanche was arrested shortly after 11 others were "caught red-handed stealing overhead cables close to Heideveld railway station in Manenberg" in March this year, police spokesman Andre Traut said.  "Terblanche was injured while he was cutting the live cable, and was arrested after Sergeant Daryl van Noie followed leads to track him down.  The other eleven suspects are still awaiting their trial for malicious damage to property," said Traut.  Terblanche was convicted and received a 15-year sentence for the theft of non-ferrous metal.  He received a further sentence of 15 years for causing damage to essential infrastructure of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa).  The sentences will run concurrently.  "Cable theft and damages caused to the railway infrastructure are serious crimes with detrimental effects to our public transport system, and we encourage the public to report any criminal activity to Crime Stop on 08600 10111," said Traut.

This short report is at IOL News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Metrorail authorities in Western Cape to ‘intensify’ efforts to crackdown on crime, at EWN
  • 'A sinister force' plotting to destroy Cape Town trains, says the city's Brett Herron, at News24

 


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