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
Tuesday, 23 October 2018.


TOP STORY – MEDIUM-TERM BUDGET

Expect ‘hell’ in ‘unpopular’ medium-term budget on Wednesday

The Citizen reports that commentators expect an unpopular medium-term budget, low on spending and heavy on savings, ahead of its delivery on Wednesday by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.  While unions were divided on hot-button issues such as the public wage bill, SA Federation of Trade Union (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the working class should expect “hell” from it.  Research director at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, Ralph Mathekga, said the time for popular budgets was over and that Mboweni was likely to irk many South Africans to thwart further economic disaster.  “He is not being quiet in confronting a very difficult issue, especially with the unions.  He is saying there is no money and you can raise taxes, but you do not want to push that too far where the economy ends up depreciating,” Mathekga observed.  “But this is not about a balancing act.  He is going to have to be on the offensive and start saving money wherever he can,” he added.  Economist Sean Muller expects Mboweni to prioritise Ramaphosa’s fiscal consolidation plan, given the low revenue collection expected following the downward growth of the economy this year.  “That probably means further measures to increase taxation.  But especially with an election looming, the negative aspects will be downplayed,” Muller said.

Read this report by Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni & Chisom Jennifer Okoye in full at The Citizen. Read too, Cosatu versus Tito fight starts, on page 2 of The Citizen of 22 October 2018

Mboweni must present clear plan on pulling economy out of doldrums, says Cosatu

ANA reports that Cosatu said on Monday that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni needed to present a clear plan on how the government would "pull the economy from the doldrums" and create a new labour-intensive growth path.  A statement from the labour federation said that, while Mboweni was only in his second week on the job, "there will be no honeymoon for him" as it expected the former Reserve Bank governor to table a medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) on Wednesday which would address the unemployment crisis currently facing the country.  "We don’t have the luxury of time because workers are tired and battered from 36 percent unemployment and the ongoing retrenchments across most sectors of the economy," the federation said.  It added:  “It is essential that we urgently adopt a completely new growth path to transform our economy into one based on labour-intensive industry and one that meets the basic needs of our people."  Cosatu warned SA was at risk of experiencing a collapse in the social order as a result of rampant unemployment.  It also took aim at Mboweni for his recent comments that power utility Eskom was bloated and needed to shed 30,000 jobs, saying that that was “nothing but a blatant act of provocation and Cosatu will not allow that to happen.”

Read this report in full at eNCA. Read Cosatu’s press statement at Cosatu News

‘Capitalist lackey’ Tito could face united trade union onslaught against state job cuts

The Citizen reports that trade unions could put their political differences aside to fight a common enemy, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, whom they called a lackey of capitalists after he vowed to reduce the public service wage bill through retrenchments.  Mboweni said over the weekend that the country’s bloated civil service contributed to the high bill and retrenchment of public servants will be implemented.  He claimed that R8 from every R10 spent by government went to salaries in the public service.  This was announced this on the eve of the medium-term budget statement, which Mboweni is due to deliver in Parliament on Wednesday.  Mboweni’s statement angered trade unions, with the SA Federation of Trade Union (Saftu) launching a scathing attack on him.  Economist and former Cosatu strategist Neil Coleman questioned the credibility of Mboweni’s figures on the public service wage bill.  But political economy analyst Zamikhaya Maseti commented that it could not be denied that the public service was bloated and something needed to be done.  However, the real fat that needed to be cut was at Cabinet level instead of the ordinary workers, Maseti argued, adding that:  “The debate about the civil service’s high salary bill should start with the Cabinet and the next layer, which is the directors-general, the deputy directors-general, chief directors and special advisers who take home huge salaries.”

Read this report by Eric Naki in full at The Citizen. Read too, Executive chaos with 14 Cabinet reshuffles and 129 ministers and deputy minister since 2009, on page 5 of Saturday Citizen of 20 October 2018

Saftu threatens to stand up against Mboweni if he cuts civil service jobs

EWN reports that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) says it will stand up against new Finance Minister Tito Mboweni if he moves to sheds jobs in the civil service.  Mboweni revealed at the weekend that government spends 80% of its budget on the salaries of public servants.  However, Saftu’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said this was not true.  Other unions have also criticised Mboweni for his comments, calling on him to focus instead on reducing the size of Cabinet.  The minister will table his maiden Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (mini budget) on Wednesday, just a couple of weeks after taking up the helm at National Treasury.  Vavi stated that Mboweni has declared war on workers:  “We can’t afford more children in classrooms.  We can’t less police than what we need.  We can’t have less prison wardens than we need.  This is a declaration on the poor.”

This short report by Mia Lindeque is at EWN

Other related internet posting(s)

  • Eskom applies for 15% tariff increase for next three years, at BusinessLive


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Two suspects who 'executed' Soweto security guards die in hail of bullets in KZN

TimesLive reports that police have confirmed that two men who were captured on video brutally killing two security guards in Soweto have been killed during a shootout in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).  Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the pair were shot dead in a shack in Clermont‚ west of Durban‚ on Monday.  He added:  "When police tried to arrest the two suspects‚ Lindokuhle Cebekhulu‚ 24‚ and Mbuyiselo Mthonti‚ 26‚ they resisted‚ which resulted in both suspects being shot dead.  There are no reports of any police officers being injured at this stage."  Cebekhulu and Mthonti had attacked the two security guards, Eric Ngobese and Boykie Moyo, from 24/7 Security Services near Maponya Mall in Soweto.  Footage of the gruesome killing captured by a high-definition camera fitted inside the vehicle was shared widely on social media.  Geoff Schapiro‚ employer at 24/7 Security Services of the two guards‚ stated at the time that they were killed by "heartless criminals with no regard for human life".

Read this report by Naledi Shange in full at TimesLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Uber launches safety toolkit for riders and drivers, at IOL News


MINING LABOUR

Lonmin construction workers want Amcu leader to come in to help in wage dispute

ANA reports that construction workers employed at two Lonmin shafts in Marikana want Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa to intervene in their wage dispute.  “We are members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) working at East 1 and West 1.  We want Mr Mathunjwa to come and help us because our region is not doing anything to help us.  The branch leadership had been doing their best to assist us, but everything stalls when the matter was referred to the region.  We do not get any feedback or any progress on the wage matter,” said one of the workers’ leaders.  A large number of workers gathered in Wonderkop in a closed meeting to discuss their problems.  They said they were expecting to get a wage increase by 1 July, but since February they have been told that negotiations were continuing.  They also want to be paid the same amount as their counterparts employed by Lonmin.  “We are doing the same job as Lonmin employees but were are paid different.  The lowest paid worker takes home R4,800 per month while Lonmin workers get more than R10,000 per month,” the leader claimed.  He said the lowest paid worker should take home at least R7,000.

This short report is at The Citizen

Battle between Shiva Uranium business rescue practitioners taken to competition tribunal

BusinessLive reports that the business rescue practitioner for the Gupta’s embattled Shiva mine has submitted an urgent application to the competition tribunal seeking the removal of two other practitioners whom he claims were unlawfully appointed.  The company holds one of the largest uranium deposits in the world.  In the affidavit, submitted to the tribunal on Friday, rescue practitioner Christopher Monyela seeks an order to direct the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) to accept a form he filed on behalf of the company the appointment of Juanito Damons as a senior practitioner of Shiva.  He also wants it to remove a form from the company filings which appointed two other practitioners — Mohamed Tayob and Eugene Januarie.  The fraught business rescue of the mine has stalled over the appointment of the new practitioners.  Operations have been closed since July and, consequently, employees have received no income since then.  In his affidavit, Monyela said the matter was urgent:  “In order to rescue Shiva, it’s necessary to enter into agreements with third parties, to take over the operations of the mine so at to ensure that, amongst others, Shiva’s employees, the security tasked with protecting Shiva’s assets, Sars and Eskom, be paid what is owed to them.”  He said that without certainty about who the rescue practitioners were, the rescue could not proceed and no plans could be prepared.

Read this report by Lisa Steyn in full at BusinessLive

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Amplats says it ‘has made great progress’ on environment, communities, at The Citizen


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Numsa members strike at Scaw Metals in Germiston over alleged assault on worker

ANA reports that members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) at Scaw Metals in Germiston went on strike on Monday after one of the company’s shareholders allegedly physically assaulted a worker.  According to Numsa, one of its members was assaulted on Friday, for using a cellphone while on duty.  Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said:  “This is not the first time that [the shareholder] has abused workers.  In June, this year he allegedly physically assaulted a female worker.  We demanded his removal and our demands were ignored.  Now he has assaulted another worker and this has provoked our members into going on strike.”  He added that management of Scaw Metals had not acted decisively in the matter.  Numsa has called for the shareholder to be suspended immediately and for an investigation to take place into this and other incidents.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read Numsa’s press statement at Numsa News

Workers at Mangaung electricity supplier down tools

The Citizen reports that workers at Centlec, the electricity supplier for the Mangaung Metro Municipality, Bloemfontein, downed tools on Monday.  They were demanding that the MEC for corporate governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) Oupa Khoabane and the municipal executive address their complaints.  The workers last week gathered outside the Centlec building demanding an improvement in working conditions, the removal of heaps of asbestos at the company premises, an end to nepotism and tender fraud, and permanent employment for those currently in acting positions.  They further called for the removal of the utility’s CE Andries Mgoqi on grounds of mismanagement.  In a memo of demands, they demanded that their grievances be addressed within 48 hours, which elapsed on Monday.  A letter was received from deputy mayor Lebohang Masoetsa requesting an extension, but workers nonetheless downed tools because this was not the first time such a response had been received.  Masoetsa’s response did not clarify when he would attend to the problems.

A short report by Katleho Morapela is on page 8 of The Citizen of 23 October 2018

Nehawu strike at St Thomas School for the Deaf affects matric exams

SABC News reports that a strike by National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) members at St Thomas School for the Deaf in the Eastern Cape has affected the first day of exams.  The support staff, including housekeepers, cleaners, cooks and security officers, have since September refused to work during weekends.  They claim that they are not getting paid double when working on Sunday, as per the law.  Learners who reside at the boarding facilities of the school did not have their breakfast on Tuesday morning as workers had downed tools.  The striking members have barricaded entrances, refusing to allow teachers to enter the school.  They have refused to open the gates until they get a clear indication from the authorities as to when they will get their money.  Some educators, who are locked outside the premises, said they were concerned that learners who were supposed to write exams could be negatively affected by this.

A short report by Lubabalo Dada is at SABC News


PROTESTS / MARCHES

Ann Latsky Nursing College in Joburg closed after students kick principal off the campus in protest

SowetanLive reports that an examination boycott at a Gauteng nursing college has resulted in the temporary closure of the institution by the provincial health department.  Angry students at the Ann Latsky Nursing College in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, kicked the principal off the campus amid complaints that her administration failed to resolve their complaints.  It had previously been reported that hundreds of third-year students at the college had protested that they had to write an exam without adequate preparation despite reporting the course lecturer to management on numerous occasions.  On Monday, Gauteng Department of Health spokesperson Lesemang Matuka confirmed the closure of the institution for safety.  "Management is looking into ways and means to minimise exam disruptions.  Continuous engagement with stakeholders is ensured until resolutions are reached," she indicated.  Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union president Lerato Madumo-Gova stated:  "They [department] are failing to resolve a simple thing.  Instead, they are closing the college.  Our department lacks leadership."

Read this report by Zoe Mahopo in full at SowetanLive


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Lawyer warns that former Transnet CEO Gama will be trespassing if he reports for work on Tuesday

BusinessLive reports that according to a lawyer for Transnet, axed CEO Siyabonga Gama would be "trespassing" if he reported for work on Tuesday and the company would be within its rights to then call law enforcement agencies.  But a defiant Gama said in a letter to the board that he would "continue to report to work as normal", and also head to court to rescind the termination of his contract.  Gama was fired from the state-owned enterprise on Sunday and told that his final day at work would be Monday, 22 October when he should collect his belongings and return Transnet’s belongings, which include an iPad, cellphone, laptop and access keys.  Gama did report for work on Monday.  His axing came after investigations found that he, former CEO Brian Molefe and Gupta associates might have acted unlawfully in relation to the purchase of 1,064 locomotives for R54bn.  Gama’s lawyers are in the process of drawing up court papers and will apparently approach the Labour Court in Johannesburg to fight his dismissal.  

Read this report by Genevieve Quintal in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Transnet's Gama slams dismissal as 'unlawful smokescreen', at Fin24. And also, Siyabonga Gama files urgent court application to overturn Transnet axing, at BusinessLive

Water and sanitation deputy director to challenge sacking based on lack of ‘trust and confidence’

BusinessLive reports that the Department of Water and Sanitation’s (DWS’s) deputy director-general for national water resources infrastructure, Zandile Makhathini, has been fired because of a lack of “trust and confidence”.  This happened before Makhathini was able to go through a formal disciplinary process.  She was suspended on 2 October for refusing to allow other projects in the ministry to dip into her unit’s R12bn budget.  It seems that the unit is generally regarded as the “honey pot” of the department, which is in financial dire straits.  At her disciplinary hearing on 9 October, Makhathini asked that the matter be handled by a commissioner from the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council, but the DWS and appointed a senior counsel to conduct the hearing, which was expected to reconvene in 10 days.  Despite this, the DWS moved to axe Makhathini on 19 October.  In its termination letter, the DWS claimed there had been a breakdown in trust and confidence.  The letter reads:  “You … stated that you will never get a fair hearing before the disciplinary chairperson, advocate Themba Skosana SC, as he has been appointed by your employer.  The department viewed the conduct in a very serious light and tantamount to you informing it that it was dishonest, corrupt and that the hearing was a sham.  It furthermore regarded your conduct as a breach of your duties of trust and good faith, resulting in a breakdown of trust and confidence.”  Apparently, Makhathini will now approach the courts to fight her dismissal.

Read this report by Genevieve Quintal in full at BusinessLive

Junior EFF employee in North West claims she got the boot for reporting assault

Sowetan reports that a junior member at the EFF office in North West claims that she lost her job for speaking out about her alleged assault by the party’s chief whip in the provincial legislature.  Maggie Klaas, who worked as an administrator at the EFF’s office, said she was fired on Thursday.  Klaas indicated that she was accused of bringing the name of the party into disrepute by talking about the alleged assault to the media.  In November, she opened a case of assault with the police, accusing her direct manager Bungas Ntsangane of threatening to cut off her private parts before physically assaulting her.  The two were allegedly fighting for an office key.  This apparently happened in full view of other legislature members.  Klaas said on Thursday she was shocked when she received a letter telling her that her contract has been terminated.  She sought an explanation, but the party management would not budge.  She stated that she had been working for EFF for more than two years, but had never experienced such hostility.  Provincial party spokesman Jerry Matebesi said Klaas was never forced to drop the case of alleged assault against Ntsangane.  He said Klaas was dismissed for refusing to comply with a lawful instruction to attend a staff meeting.  The case against Ntsangane has been postponed to 13 November by the Mmabatho Magistrate’s Court for investigation.

Read more of this Sowetan report by Boitumelo Tshehle at SA Labour News

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page