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
Monday, 8 October 2018.


Nzimande urges Prasa, Rail Safety Regulator to resolve impasse over safety of trains out of court

ANA reports that transport minister Blade Nzimande on Monday appealed to both the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) and Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) to find an out of court settlement in the interests of millions of commuters who daily used Metrorail.  The RSR issued Prasa with an notice of intention to suspend its safety permit after two Metrorail trains collided in Kempton Park last week, injuring at least 320 people.  Prasa has since asked the high Court to invalidate the intended suspension of its operating permit.  In a statement, Nzimande said:  "I believe that both the boards of the RSR and Prasa are capable of resolving their impasse cordially in the best interest of all commuters.  Such a decision must not negatively impact on the provision of safe and secure Metrorail operations."  The acting director-general of the department of transport is due to convene an urgent meeting between the chairpersons of Prasa and the RSR in Cape Town on Tuesday to try and find a resolution.

A short report is at Engineering News. Read too, Prasa operating permit suspension held over, at News24

Railway safety regulator fears dire consequences after yet another Metrorail accident

TimesLive reports that as the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) pushes to have Prasa's permit suspended‚ another Metrorail train accident has been reported.  RSR spokesperson Madelein Williams said in a statement at the weekend:  "Another Prasa train derailed at the Mayfair Station [on Sunday].  These accidents‚ irrespective of the magnitude‚ point to major risks within Prasa's operations and could have dire consequences.  The regulator is‚ therefore‚ unable to tolerate the continuation of unsafe practices within Prasa‚ considering that Prasa mainly serves the poorest of the poor‚ with no alternative means of transport to travel to and from work.  They should‚ therefore‚ not be made to choose between that and life."  It was not immediately clear what led to the derailment of the train or whether there were any injuries.  Meanwhile‚ the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) will continue to operate Metrorail trains this week as the High Court has held over the RSR decision to suspend its permit.  The court will this week hear an application by the RSR to revoke Prasa’s license to operate.  The RSR said it had decided to act to revoke Prasa's permit following a train accident in Kempton Park that left more than 300 passengers injured.

Read this report by Naledi Shange in full at TimesLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Plea to transport minister Blade Nzimande from Cape Town’s Brett Herron over rail safety, at TimesLive
  • KZN MEC hails arrest in Umlazi train torching, at TimesLive


Ubank hit for reckless lending to a Harmony mineworker

SowetanLive reports that Ubank has learnt the hard way not to lend its clients more than they can afford to repay.  It has been found to have recklessly lent a mineworker R225,727 over five months without a proper credit assessment.  The National Credit Act states that a credit agreement will be deemed to be reckless if the credit provider fails to conduct an assessment or fails to foresee the loan will make the consumer over-indebted.  The miner, who is from Lesotho and employed by Harmony Gold Mine, earns R6,792 a month and was required to repay R9,563 a month on his four loans.  He applied for a R17,967 loan from Ubank in 2015.  While he was still paying off the loan, he applied for three more loans in the same year.  Ubank lent him R72,118 in March, a further R6,722 in April and R71,391 in May.  Last month, the Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) instructed Ubank to write off R225,726.47 related to the four personal loan accounts linked to the miner.  This finding was made after Ithuseng Credit Solutions, which provides credit health improvement services to Harmony Gold employees, lodged a complaint against the bank on the miner’s behalf.  Ithuseng’s CEO Magauta Mphahlele said the company was pleased with the finding as it was difficult to prove reckless lending.

Read this report by Thuli Zungu in full at SowetanLive

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Amplats to compensate relocated Limpopo community, at Mining Weekly

Postings on mining charter / transformation

  • Finally, some certainty for SA’s minerals sector with ‘mixed bag’ mining charter, at Financial Mail


Nehawu strike at Sassa to commence on Wednesday, ‘not just for workers but also for beneficiaries’

The Citizen reports that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) announced on Monday its programme of action and details of its nationwide strike action at the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa).  The union said the strike, which is set to commence on Wednesday, came as a result of the refusal by Sassa management to resolve challenges brought about by the migration of the social grant payment system from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to the SA Post Office (Sapo).  These challenges included the introduction of the biometric enrolment of beneficiaries and staff, the grant business process and alleged Socpen (social pensions) fraud.  The union is demanding the suspension of the biometric enrolment of beneficiaries, prioritisation of the consultation on the biometric enrolment of beneficiaries, jobs evaluation in grant administration, and the option of the inclusion of biometric enrolment of beneficiaries in the KPAs of specific employees to perform this function.  Nehawu’s general secretary Zola Saphetha said the reasons behind the strike included that they had been calling for security improvements in respect of the pensions system since 2014 as the system currently in use had a number of flaws, which put beneficiaries as well as workers at risk.  He claimed that because of the system’s errors, Sassa had resorted to forcing workers to bypass the system in violation of Socpen rules, which was also a violation of the terms of employment.  These challenges have frustrated workers and beneficiaries in particular who have mobilised themselves and held Sassa workers hostage in Maponya Mall, Soshanguve and Orange Farm offices, among others, said Saphetha

Read this report by Makhosandile Zulu in full at The Citizen. Read too, Nehawu announces national strike at Sassa offices, at EWN


Absa CE Maria Ramos says job creation is a joint effort as the President can’t do it alone

Business Report writes that President Cyril Ramaphosa begins preparations for his investment summit later this month on a high after securing backing from some of the country’s biggest conglomerates to assist his jobs creation drive.  Ramaphosa also managed to secure commitments from businesses that all alternatives would be explored before retrenchments were effected.  Businesses also agreed to sacrifice executive salary hikes and forgo dividends.  The financial sector said it would invest R100-billion over five years in black-owned industrial enterprises as part of its transformation commitments.  Absa chief executive Maria Ramos said on the sidelines of the summit that it was a joint effort to turn the tide for the economy.  “The president (Ramaphosa) cannot do this on his own and the government can’t do this on its own.  We all have to put our shoulders to the wheel,” Ramos said, adding that the upcoming investment conference needed to be supported domestically.  In her view, the summit had been a huge opportunity for SA to create jobs and improve business confidence.  The summit saw business, labour and government agreeing to more than 70 commitments aimed at unlocking job creation and boosting economic growth.  However, the jury remains out on whether the two-day inaugural Jobs Summit would deliver the 275,000 annual jobs in a troubled economy that has fallen into technical recession.  

Read more of this report by Dineo Faku at SA Labour News


Businesses agree at Jobs Summit on disclosure in financial statements of wage gaps

BusinessLive reports that it was agreed at last week’s Jobs Summit that the wage gap between the highest and lowest paid and between men and women should be disclosed in company financial statements.  Business, represented by Business Unity SA (Busa), agreed that companies would be encouraged to voluntarily disclose pay differentials with a view to making these commitments compulsory within 12 months.  Disclosure of ratios between the highest and lowest paid has come to be regarded worldwide as a way to promote a fairer society as well as provide a disincentive to excessive executive pay and is compulsory in an increasing number of countries, from the US to India.  Disclosure of the gender pay gap is done less widely, with the UK recently becoming the first country to make it compulsory.  Busa CEO Tanya Cohen said on Friday:  "The idea is that business takes ownership of this and voluntarily discloses, self-reflects and addresses disparities that cannot be justified.  It is a fix-it-yourself approach."  The technical details of how remuneration is measured — for instance, which bonuses to include and when — and how the ratio is arrived at will be refined by a committee within Nedlac.  Cohen said the scope for making disclosures compulsory would be either through inclusion in the King corporate governance codes or through the Department of Labour.

Read this report by Carol Paton in full at BusinessLive


Skilled nurse shortage could hobble implementation of National Health Insurance

BL PREMIUM writes that with the final implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI) fast approaching, the need for skilled nurses is in sharp focus and there is uncertainty on whether SA will be able to fill the gap in time.  Dr Sue Armstrong, senior nursing lecturer at Wits University, told delegates to the Hospital Association of SA conference on Tuesday that NHI required a functional district health-care system to be effective.  This was because prevention, early detection and disease treatment were done in district health systems, which would not run effectively without the required number of nurses.  "The major concern is that the professional nurses are an ageing group.  If one takes population growth into consideration, not as many professional nurses are currently being trained as are retiring," she indicated.  At the heart of the problem is that there has been a delay in SA Nursing Council (SANC) approvals for private nursing education institutions.  The government trains 73% of SA's nurses through its colleges, but that is not enough to resolve the shortage.  Also, the training of enrolled nurses (who provide limited nursing care) and nursing auxiliaries has been stopped without having in place provision for training of nurses in the new qualifications, which has led to the decline in overall nurse numbers, said Armstrong.

Read this report by Penelope Mashego in full at BL Premium (paywall access)

National Skills Fund blown on 'soft degrees' rather than artisan training

Sunday Times Business Times reports that according to Mvuyisi Macikama, CEO of the National Skills Fund (NSF), billions of rands earmarked by for the development of badly needed artisans have been blown by the government on university students instead.  SA is so short of artisans it is having to import them, but universities, on the other hand, are said to be churning out so many students with "soft" degrees that the market cannot absorb them.  "Our money has been spent for something other than the key areas we're supposed to be focusing on," Macikama observed.  He pointed out that the NSF's 2017-2018 annual report tabled in parliament last week indicated that the Department of Higher Education & Training (DHET) had taken R6.56bn from the NSF's accumulated surplus to pay for the government's no-fee increase promise to university students.  In 2016, NSF coffers were raided to the tune of R1.27bn, and this shot up to a whopping R5.28bn last year.  The NSF intended spending R1.5bn of this money on "reactivating" the capacity of state-owned enterprises like Eskom, Transnet, Denel and SAA Technical to provide the kind of artisan training they did in the past.  It had allocated another R1.5bn to turn the country's technical and vocational education and training colleges (TVETs), most of which Macikama said were just glorified schools, into institutions that offered "occupationally directed" programmes.  The raiding of funds would make the National Development Plan's goal of 30,000 artisans a year by 2030 impossible to meet, Macikama reckoned.  Only 21,000 artisans a year are being produced at the moment.

Read more of this Sunday Times Business Times by Chris Barron at SA Labour News


PE recruitment company suspends manager who allegedly called colleague and his union representative 'monkeys'

TimesLive reports that a Port Elizabeth woman who allegedly referred to a colleague and his union representatives as “monkeys” has been suspended for using the racial slur at the offices of Workforce Staffing in Newton Park.  Branch manager Sharnay Schwartz Scribante was recorded on a cellphone using the racial slur when talking to another colleague.  In the recording, Scribante is heard talking to a woman about work issues when she suddenly allegedly refers to a black colleague and his union representatives outside as monkeys.  “All those monkeys are standing outside with Lerato.  One of them apparently says he does not want to go to the meeting,” she allegedly said.  Workforce Staffing managing director Sean Momberg said the matter was being investigated.  He distanced the company from and condemned any forms of discrimination.  Workforce Staffing, which has an international footprint is a staffing and recruitment company.

Read a report by Michael Kimberley at TimesLive


CCMA orders SABC to reinstate fired station manager, with backpay of R890,000

Sowetan reports that former Ligwalagwala FM station manager Rio Mabunda successfully appealed his dismissal at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) last week.  According to the arbitration award issued on 2 October, Mabunda was unfairly dismissed and the SABC has been instructed to reinstate him to his position before 1 November.  Commissioner Geraldine Khoza further told the public broadcaster to back pay Mabunda his salary for 27 months totalling R890 000.  SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu said:  “The SABC is still studying the award, thereafter it will consider options available to it in terms of the relevant provisions of the Labour Relations Act and determine the way forward.”  Mabunda, who has since found a job at Rise FM, was fired in July last year after spending a year on suspension.  He was charged with five counts of misconduct.  After a long disciplinary process, Mabunda was found guilty of gross negligence for failing to sign contracts with sponsors when the station hosted its 34-year anniversary bash in 2016.

Based on a report by Patience Bambalele on page 3 of Sowetan of 8 October 2018

Numsa fighting at ConCourt for workers fired for not snitching

The Star reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has told the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) that workers should not be dismissed for refusing to tell on their colleagues as this practice was inherently dangerous and risky.  Numsa is fighting for 65 of its members fired for derivative misconduct after a 2012 strike at Dunlop’s three associated companies in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal.  Derivative misconduct is misconduct where innocent workers are dismissed for not revealing the identities of their colleagues involved in committing the acts of misconduct during strike action to their employer when, in fact, they have information to identify the perpetrators.  It has been found that derivative misconduct is essentially a breach of the duty of good faith and the culpability of the actual perpetrators is attributed to innocent employees too.  But Numsa insists that workers should not be dismissed for derivative misconduct because they fear being seen as informers and risk their lives.  According to Dunlop, it had direct evidence of incidents of violence and harassment during the month-long strike.  After a disciplinary hearing, 29 employees were dismissed for specific misconduct as well as derivative misconduct while the remaining 78 Numsa members were dismissed for derivative misconduct.  The 65 employees, the subject of Numsa’s appeal to the ConCourt, were all found guilty of derivative misconduct and dismissed.  The appeal comes after variant rulings by the CCMA, the Labour Court and the Labour Appeal Court.

Read this report by Loyiso Sidimba in full at The Star


Three security guards among cash-in-transit heist suspects

TimesLive reports that ten people arrested in a connection with a cash-in-transit heist in the North West were due to appear in the Mahikeng Magistrate's Court on Monday‚ the Hawks indicated.  The heist occurred on 30 September in Mahikeng.  Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi stated:  "The North West Hawks’ cash-in-transit team‚ assisted by Crime Intelligence and Mmabatho Flying Squad‚ launched an intense manhunt after the suspects allegedly bombed an armoured vehicle‚ disarmed the security guards of three firearms and fled the scene with a sizeable amount of money."  Mulaudzi said three of the suspects were security guards and their allegedly stolen firearms were found dumped in a nearby bush‚ not far from the crime scene.  Two guns and ammunition were also recovered when police raided the homes of the suspects.  Meanwhile‚ police minister Bheki Cele’s office announced that 12 suspects involved in another heist were arrested in Midrand on Friday.

Read this report by Naledi Shange in full at TimesLive


Vavi can’t afford medical aid, he tells tweeter who made assumptions about his lifestyle

The Citizen reports that Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), lambasted a Twitter follower for making assumptions about his lifestyle and pointed out that he cannot afford medical aid.  Magope Nkgadima insinuated in a tweet that Vavi was the type of employer who spent more on his pets than his domestic helper.  Nkgadima’s assumption was in response to a video Vavi shared of his puppies playing with children in his home.  Vavi warned Nkgadima not to base his assumptions on the fact that he was a public figure and further stated that interacting with humans was how dogs were socialised.  He often posts videos of his pets.  At the last count, there were seven dogs in the videos.  Vavi recently made headlines after an alleged sex scandal last year resurfaced in the media.  Reports stated that a former employee of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) allegedly filed a complaint against him for which he received a warning.  Vavi apologised to Saftu officials for making the cleaner uncomfortable and unhappy.

This short report appeared on page 6 of Sowetan of 8 October 2018


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page