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, 22 October 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu’s personnel being terrorised by municipal officials

BusinessLive reports that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the auditor-general’s (AG’s) office to perform its work in some municipalities as staff members have had to face situations such as a hostage incident and threats from municipal officials.  A staff member has even been shot at.  These are some of the instances of intimidation AG Kimi Makwetu raised in a letter to parliament’s standing committee on the AG.  In the letter, dated 15 October, Makwetu specifically detailed instances of intimidation at the Emfuleni, Tshwane, Madibeng and Moretele municipalities.  He wrote that he believed the instances of intimidation deserved national attention, even though the AG’s office would still work with the local and provincial governments in question.  "These instances not only pose a threat to the life and limb of innocent professionals employed by the AGSA [auditor-general SA], but also put the broader public interest at risk," Makwetu indicated.  The letter goes on to detail some of the "serious and unacceptable intimidation threats" levelled against officials over the past few weeks.  Nthabiseng Khunou, chair of the portfolio committee, warned last week that anyone found to be obstructing the work of the AG should be criminally charged and face the full might of the law.

Read this report by Claudi Mailovich in full at BusinessLive

Decline in the number of police killings so far this year

SABC News reports that, as the number of police officers killed in the line of duty continues to decline, the police ministry says the fight against police killings in the country is winnable.  Twenty-nine police lost their lives so far this year, as compared to 57 last year.  Police officers killed in the line of duty were remembered at a commemorative event in Potchefstroom on Sunday.  It was a moment to remember the fallen men and women in blue.  Among them was 49-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Herman Masilo, who died last August.  The lives of his wife, Vuyiswa, and their two sons have changed forever.  “I urge other women who, like me, lost their husbands … they must accept and be strong.  There was not much we could change.  Our husbands died in the line of duty,” his widow Vuyiswa Masilo said.  The Provincial Police Commissioner encouraged all members to stay strong and united.  It is hoped that more lives will be saved in the next financial year.

Read this report by Jake Mokoma in full at SABC News


MINING LABOUR

Mining Forum pushes for removal of Mineral Resources DG Thabo Mokoena

ANA reports that the Mining Forum of SA (MFSA) on Friday upped the ante on its call for the resignation of Thabo Mokoena as the director-general (DG) of the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).  It wrote to Presidency and the relevant parliamentary portfolio committee asking for his appointment to be reviewed.  MFSA secretary general Terance Kgokolo said they were of the view that Mokoena was not fit to hold the position of the DG in what was a strategic department, and that they hoped that parliament would invite them to make a representation about the state of the department and the dire parallel processes Mokoena had allegedly created.  “Our move to write to the Presidency came as a result of evident information, which the forum is in position of, demonstrating that Mokoena, is and have been running a parallel process of issuing mining licences, prospecting rights and mining permits and suspension of officials without following due processes especially in the provinces of Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West which are also strategic provinces of our economy of mineral resources,” Kgokolo said.  MFSA is a lobby group seeking to be an agent of transformation in the SA mining industry through ensuring that mining entities fully implemented the Mining Charter, Mineral Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and their social and labour plans (SLPs).

Read this report in full at The Citizen


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Striking Numsa members accused of torching plastics factory in Free State

EWN reports that employers’ organisation the Plastic Converters of SA (PCSA) has accused National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) members of burning down a factory in Ladybrand in the Free State.  The PCSA said this was in violation of an interdict against workers.  About 10,000 Numsa members in the plastics sector have gone on strike, demanding a 15% wage increase and better working conditions.  The PCSA’s Johan Pieterse said Numsa must be held responsible.  “We are not talking about a strike anymore and I’m referring to a strike that’s controlled.  We are now talking about rioting.  There’s a major difference between the two.  Unfortunately, Numsa must take responsibility.  They’ve called for the strike.  You’re responsible for your members.”  Numsa was not immediately available for comment on the allegations.

This short report by Pelane Phakgadi is at EWN

Cape Town’s MyCiTi bus drivers vow to continue striking over insourcing

Cape Argus reports that MyCiTi bus drivers were due to gather in front of the Cape Town Civic Centre on Monday morning to continue their strike.  The drivers have vowed to continue to strike until their grievances were addressed.  One driver, Patrick Mabindisa, said:  “All we want is to be insourced by the municipality.  We are subjected to unfair labour practices in the MyCiTi project.  We want fairness like everyone else.”  Mayoral Committee Member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, pointed out that the High Court had granted the City an urgent interdict against the striking workers, preventing them from intimidating, harassing or assaulting MyCiTi passengers and staff, preventing them from damaging MyCiTi stations, depots or buses, and gathering at, or coming closer than 100m to, MyCiTi stations, depots or buses.  “We trust the strikers will abide by the order and will stop intimidating and threatening their colleagues who are not participating in the wildcat strike that has been orchestrated by the Economic Freedom Fighters,” he stated.  Herron indicated that he had been available all week to address the striking workers, “but on the condition that this engagement happens through their legitimate representatives, namely the unions who represent the employees in the workplace.”  He said he would not engage with the striking workers through the EFF.

Read this report by Sisonke Mlamla in full at Cape Argus. See too, MyCiTi strike to go ahead despite interdict, at Cape Times


UNION NEWS / UNION STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

Saftu’s growing pains much like Cosatu’s organisational problems

City Press writes that the one-and-a-half-year-old SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has already run into many of the organisational problems hobbling its larger rival Cosatu.  It has fallen dramatically short of its recruitment targets and faces a crisis of non-payment of fees by affiliated unions, according to a report on the state of the federation prepared for a special central committee meeting held last week.  Some affiliates are already on their way to being expelled and the majority of affiliates are so small that they have little prospect of survival.  The main reason for this week’s meeting was to address problems with Saftu’s constitution, which was adopted last year with a number of impractical and contradictory clauses about how the organisation should be run.  The report indicated that “these clauses cause organisational paralysis”.  Saftu is led by former Cosatu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and dominated by former Cosatu unions that left or were expelled.  While the federation has 30 affiliates, the vast majority have fewer than 10,000 members, some with as few as 260 members.  Saftu consists mostly of the 328,827-strong National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), which makes up 45% of all its members, and the 128,466-strong Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu), which makes up another 18%.  The report says Saftu has failed dismally to achieve its ambitious recruitment targets when it launched in April last year.

Read this report by Dewald van Rensburg in full at News24

National Transport Movement fails to pay over workers’ tax and pension fund deductions

Mail & Guardian reports that the National Transport Movement (NTM) union is in financial distress and has not paid the SA Revenue Service (Sars) or its employees’ provident fund contributions for months.  At least three of its employees have reported union executives to the police, who are investigating cases of fraud.  The union’s general secretary, Ephraim Mphahlele, confirmed he was aware of the case opened against him and other office bearers, but said it was based on the “malicious lies” of a disgruntled former office bearer, Craig Nte.  Mphahlele commented that NTM was not the only entity that had defaulted on provident fund and tax payments and said further that:  “There are millions of companies in the country that have defaulted.  We are not in the wrong.  If we don’t have money, we don’t have money.”  According to a letter from Sars, dated September this year, NTM has failed to make payments of nearly R1-million for its employees’ taxes.  In another letter, dated 26 October last year, Old Mutual demanded that NTM had to pay the provident fund.  By April of this year, there was a letter confirming an application for the dissolution of the NTM’s Old Mutual Superfund.  Payslips show that PAYE and provident fund contributions have been deducted every month.  Nte, former NTM deputy secretary general, has also opened a case against Mphahlele for allegedly trying to apply for a home loan using Nte’s details.  Mphahlele has denied this allegation

Read this report by Athandiwe Saba in full at M&G


WORKING TIME / ANNUAL CALENDAR

Teachers’ long holiday in December cut by half

Daily News reports that teachers are fuming that their December holiday will be cut by half, from six to three weeks, but they will have to accept the Basic Education Department’s (DBE’s) decision.  The decision was made final on Thursday.  Schools will close on Wednesday, 12 December for pupils, and on Friday, 14 December for teachers.  Schools will re-open on Monday, 7 January for teachers and on Wednesday, 9 January for pupils.  This means pupils will have 16 working days off, excluding public holidays, and teachers just 12 days off before returning to school in January.  Teachers’ unions said despite voicing their frustrations and making it clear that they were not prepared to sacrifice their longest holiday of the year when they were asked to comment on the draft calendar, their unhappiness has fallen on deaf ears.  DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the department had the prerogative to proceed.  “This is an administrative matter.  We are not changing the policy.  People have a right to be upset, but we also have a job to do in the interests of the country,” he stated.  Mhlanga added that the shorter December holiday would be a once-off occasion related to matric marking and that the usual December holidays would apply next year.

Read this report by Sne Masuku in full at Daily News


EMPLOYMENT EQUITY / AFFIRMATIVE ACTION / EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

Solidarity in court bid to get SAHRC equality report enforced

City Press reports that trade union Solidarity has launched a high court application to force the Department of Labour (DOL) to comply with the 2017/18 equality report published by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).  The report found that certain sections of the Employment Equity Act (EEA) might be unconstitutional.  DOL spokesperson Thobile Lamati said they were still studying the July report and were still engaging with the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) as recommended by the report.  According to court documents lodged with the Labour Court, the union wants the court to declare parts of the EEA unconstitutional and the DOL to halt its efforts to enforce the act.  Solidarity’s Anton van der Bijl commented:  “We want to ensure there is compliance with the report within these six months.”  Among key findings of the report were that the EEA’s definition of “designated groups” and SA’s system of data disaggregation was not in compliance with constitutional or international law obligations; that government’s failure to measure the impact of various affirmative action measures on the basis of need and disaggregated data, especially the extent to which such measures advanced indigenous peoples and people with disabilities, likewise violated international law obligations; and that the implementation of special measures in the employment equity sphere was currently misaligned to the constitutional objective of achieving substantive equality, to the extent that implementation might amount to rigid quotas and absolute barriers as opposed to flexible targets.

Read this report by Lesetja Malope in full at City Press

Nearly 1,000 handicapped people employed in government initiative

ANA reports that a Department of Labour (DOL) initiative which dates back to World War II is helping create jobs for handicapped people who have borne the brunt of SA’s unemployment scourge.  Official data shows that some 4.7 million people live with disabilities in SA, of whom 10% to 15% require an environment such as the DOL’s Supported Employment Enterprises (SEE), a project established after the war to provide jobs for veterans.  The SEE initiative current boasts 12 factories which operate in seven provinces and employ nearly 1,000 people with disabilities, with the capacity for another 3,000.  The factories manufacture some 3,000 products for hospitals, schools and the police force, including furniture, textiles, metalwork, leather work, canvas work, book-binding and screen printing.  In rural areas, SEE has created another 1,100 jobs indirectly.  It transports school desks which are assembled by local carpenters who also do repairs when needed, establishing a sustainable eco-system.  In addition to contributing to SA’s manufacturing sector, the non-profit SEE initiative pays all its own expenses and staff.  SEE products are marketed and sold through the DOL.

Read this report in full at IOL News


STATE WAGE BILL

Mboweni warns that state salary bill drains money meant for basic services

BusinessLive reports that finance minister Tito Mboweni has said the public sector wage bill has become a serious drain on the public purse, with R8 out of every R10 spend by government going to salaries of civil servants.  He also warned that this could have serious repercussions on government's ability to provide basic and essential services such as health care, education and policing.  Mboweni made the remarks while delivering the annual Professor Kader Asmal memorial lecture in Cape Town on Saturday.  Mboweni said the ANC was well aware of the governance challenges being facing amid a gloomy economic outlook and added that, if the ANC-led government were "better organised", it would not be spending the bulk of its revenue on public sector salaries.  "Because if eight out of every ten rand goes to salaries in the public service, you are left with R2 for other services - to fix a hospital, a clinic,” Mboweni pointed out.  He hinted that that would be one of the issues he would address in his maiden Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, which he is due to deliver on Wednesday.

Read this report in full at BusinessLive


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING

TVETs to get much-needed boost with NMU’s launch of diploma in technical and vocational teaching

Mail & Guardian reports that the Nelson Mandela University’s (NMU’s) launch of an advanced diploma in technical and vocational teaching is a direct response to and addresses the vision expressed in three national policy statements.  These comprise the white paper for post-school education and training, the National Development Plan and the policy on professional qualifications for lecturers in technical and vocational education and training (TVET).  These policies emphasise the centrality of the TVET sector in addressing some of the huge social and economic challenges that face SA.  The government wants to have 2.5-million students in TVETs by 2030.  This means the TVET student population needs to be grown by about 1.7-million in the next 11 years.  The current almost 800,000 students require approximately 10,000 lecturers operating in the 50 colleges countrywide.  These numbers imply an influx of an additional 20,000 lecturers over the next 11 years.  Starting in 2019, the new qualification will create the opportunity (on a part-time basis on NMU’s Missionvale campus) for those currently teaching in the sector who are deemed academically qualified but professionally unqualified to become TVET lecturers.  Furthermore, the qualification will place huge emphasis on the relationship between the classroom and the workplace and create the opportunity for those who lack workplace-based experience to gain such experience.  In short, the advanced diploma in technical and vocational teaching will make it possible for a matric pupil to decide, as a career choice, to become a TVET lecturer.

Read this important article by Muki Moeng in full at Mail & Guardian


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Transnet confirms CEO Gama fired with full pay for six months

Engineering News reports that Transnet on Monday confirmed that Siyabonga Gama had been fired as the freight rail operator's chief executive officer and said it was in line with a government drive to turn around State-owned entities.  Transnet said it informed Gama of its decision on Sunday and Monday would be his last working day.  It noted that he had failed to meet the deadline to submit reasons why his contract should not be terminated.  He will be paid his salary for six months, instead of serving a notice period.  The board served notice of its intention to fire Gama after he was implicated in misconduct and maladministration relating to Transnet's R54-billion contract to procure locomotives from China South Rail and China North Rail some six years ago.  Gama approached the labour court to try to interdict Transnet from firing him.  The court last week ordered that the case be referred to arbitration, but the board said this in itself did not stop it from taking a decision based on Gama's failure to submit reasons why he should not be dismissed.  Board chairperson Popo Molefe said that as for the board it was essential that the relationship between the board and the head of its management team was based on trust and confidence, but Gama’s conduct had been found to be incompatible with that culture.

Read this report in full at Engineering News


NEWS BRIEFS

  • Economic growth the missing key to South Africa's investment drive, says Jacko Maree, at Engineering News
  • WEF: Why a diverse workplace is a more competitive workplace, at EWN
  • Gautrain expansion decision ‘not imminent’, warns MEC Vadi, at Engineering News

 


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