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
Wednesday, 24 October 2018.


TOP STORY – SOLIDARITY TO MARCH IN SANDTON

Solidarity Movement to serve court papers on Sasol at march in Sandton on Thursday

Engineering News reports that on Thursday, thousands of Solidarity Movement members will serve court papers on petrochemical giant Sasol at its head office in Sandton.  This will be in the wake of a dispute between Solidarity and Sasol over the exclusion of white employees from the Khanyisa employee share scheme.  Solidarity will be asking the Labour Court to rule that the total exclusion of a particular group of employees, based on their race, amounts to unfair discrimination.  Solidarity members embarked on a strike at Sasol at the beginning of September.  According to CE Dr Dirk Hermann, Solidarity members gave the union a mandate to intensify the action at Sasol, which led to the decision to stage a protest march and go to court.  The greater Solidarity Movement, which includes AfriForum, Solidarity Helping Hand, the FAK and the School Support Centre, gave its support to this march, according to the statement.  A convoy of busses and cars will depart from the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria on Thursday morning at 08:00 to Sandton, where a memorandum will be handed over to the JSE, before the convoy proceeds to Sasol’s headquarters.

Read this report at Engineering News. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News


MEDIUM-TERM BUDGET

Slower growth and more debt in medium-term budget, with no extra funding for unbudgeted state wage increases

BusinessLive reports that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s first major policy statement since returning to the cabinet almost halved the treasury’s growth forecast, while predicting a steady increase in debt and borrowing that may attract unwelcome interest from ratings agencies.  But, Mboweni also tried to strike an optimistic tone, even as he acknowledged the grim economic reality, saying the statement was “built on a strong conviction that SA can be renewed”.  He stood his ground on fiscal discipline, maintaining the expenditure ceiling and providing no extra funding for unbudgeted public sector wage increases.  The state now expects the economy to grow 0.7% in 2018, compared with the 1.5% prediction presented by former finance minister Malusi Gigaba in February.  Even the good news came with a health warning.  An 11% increase in tax revenue collection in the first six months of the year was achieved on the back of a backlog in VAT refunds, creating “an overly optimistic view of revenue growth”.  The government will not allocate additional money to fund above-inflation wage increases agreed with public sector unions this year, which were R30bn above budget.  Departments will have to fund them themselves, which will probably mean less money for services and investment.  Higher wages, rather than the hiring of new workers, accounted for about 85% in the wage bill, Mboweni said.

Read this report in full at BusinessLive. Read too, No tax hikes proposed for 2019 in medium-term budget, at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Mini budget in a nutshell, at Moneyweb
  • Saftu snubs Mboweni comments on bloated public sector wage bill, at Moneyweb


PRICES / TARIFFS

Delayed fuel price hike keeps consumer inflation steady at 4.9% in September

BusinessLive reports that consumer inflation remained unchanged at 4.9% in September, aided by energy minister Jeff Radebe’s intervention that month to delay sharp fuel price increases until October.  Statistics SA reported on Wednesday that September’s consumer price index (CPI) came to 108.9 points, up from 103.8 in September 2017 and 108.4 in August.  The food component of CPI showed inflation of 3.9%, while annual fuel inflation came to 18.5%.  October’s inflation figure is likely to show a sharp acceleration due to the R1/l increase in Gauteng’s 95 octane petrol price and R1.24/l increase in the wholesale price of diesel taking effect.  Inflation, as measured by the annual change in CPI, is the key measure used by the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee to set interest rates.  The committee is scheduled to announce its next interest rate decision on November 22.

Read this report with graph by Robert Laing in full at BusinessLive


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Police captain gunned down and killed in Eastern Cape

TimesLive reports that national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole has implemented a 72-hour activation plan to hunt down the men who gunned down a police captain in New Brighton in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday.  A police spokesperson said the 50-year-old officer (as yet unnamed) was stationed at the protection and security services in King Williams Town and was deployed to the New Brighton area on a temporary basis.  Details around the murder are still unclear‚ however‚ the officer was gunned down at around 2.30am at Tshiwula Street in New Brighton.  He was shot multiple times in the head and his service pistol was taken.  The 72-hour activation plan put in place entails the mobilisation of critical resources including crime intelligence‚ forensic experts‚ the Hawks and tactical teams to ensure that no crucial evidence and intelligence is lost.

A short report by Iavan Pijoos is at TimesLive. Read too, Parliament condemns Port Elizabeth cop killing, at The Citizen

Hero helicopter pilot who was killed fighting Garden Route blaze identified

News24 reports that the Working on Fire (WoF) pilot who was killed when his helicopter went down during firefighting efforts near Riversdale on Tuesday afternoon has been identified by Southern Cape police as 65-year-old Nico Heyns.  Captain Malcolm Pojie confirmed that Heyns was killed in a crash in the Vermaaklikheid area, about 40km from Riversdale, around 09:50.  An inquest docket has been opened at the Riversdale police station.  Heyns was well known in the aviation world and often went above and beyond the call of duty.  Trevor Abrahams, chairperson of Kishugu Aviation, said it was one of the company's Huey helicopters that crashed.  The Garden Route District Municipality posted on Facebook that the fire at Vermaaklikheid was burning on the eastern and western flank of the Duiwenhoks river.  The Western flank was contained on Tuesday morning, and mopping up was being conducted by local volunteers and Enviro Volunteer Wildfire Services.  However, the Eastern flank was the main concern with firefighters on the ground and in the air battling flames on a 3.5km line, trying to prevent it from jumping the Puintjie/Blombos road.  As of Tuesday evening, seven homes had been destroyed, as well as multiple smaller structures.

Read this report by Jenna Etheridge in full at News24

Parliament concerned about threats to AG employees auditing municipalities

News24 reports that Parliament's presiding officers have once again expressed concern over reports of threats levelled at audit managers of the Auditor-General's (AG’s) office working in the Emfuleni, Tshwane, Madibeng and Moretele municipalities.  "The presiding officers find such threats completely unacceptable and extremely worrisome as the office of the Auditor-General is mandated to ensure good governance," parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.  Mothapo noted that the latest threats came only a few months after similar threats were levelled against other audit teams at work in eThekweni and Msunduzi, KwaZulu-Natal in May.  Earlier this month, an employee of the AG’s office was shot and wounded while staying over at a guesthouse in Vanderbijlpark.  Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, described the threats as an attempt to undermine the Chapter 9 institution's constitutional powers and a threat to accountability.  She said it was Parliament's mandate to protect and assist Chapter 9 institutions to ensure their independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness and, as such, called on the police “to resume in earnest with investigations on these latest threats against the Office of the Auditor-General."

Read this report by Sesona Ngqakamba in full at News24. Read Parliament’s press statement in this regard at Parliament News


MINING LABOUR

NUM to resume wage strike at Murray & Roberts Cementation

ANA reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Wednesday it had served Murray and Roberts (M&R) Cementation with a notice to resume with a strike over wages on Thursday at all operations.  M&R Cementation is sub-contracted to Venetia Mine, which is owned by the De Beers Group.  The union is demanding an annual wage increase of R1,000 over three years, in addition to a higher “living out” allowance, safety bonus, production bonus, and medical aid.  “Murray and Roberts pays a production bonus of R10,000 and safety bonus of R3,500 to whites but fails to pay only R1,500 production bonus and R500 safety bonus to black employees,” the NUM claimed.

This short report is at The Citizen. Read the NUM’s press statement in this regard at NUM News

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • New drug hailed as a ‘game changer’ against drug-resistant TB, at BusinessLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Five MyCiTi strikers arrested on Tuesday as violence intensified

TimesLive reports that five striking MyCiTi bus service workers were arrested during a clash with police outside the Cape Town Civic Centre on Tuesday.  Police used stun grenades to disperse strikers blocking the bus lane.  Staff at vehicle operating companies that run the buses began an unprotected strike over a week ago‚ and on Thursday a high court interdict was granted preventing them intimidating bus passengers and coming within 100m of MyCiTi premises or vehicles.  Brett Herron‚ mayoral committee member for transport‚ indicated:  “Since the court order was granted‚ the strikers have intensified their attacks on the service.  [On Monday] afternoon‚ a MyCiTi bus was petrol bombed in Kuyasa in Khayelitsha‚ and another bus was targeted later in the evening close to Mew Way.  The violence intensified [on Tuesday morning] when strikers started targeting the buses operating the N2 Express routes between the Cape Flats and the city.  At least four buses were stoned in Khayelitsha shortly before the peak-hour period commenced at 5am and‚ as a result‚ services had been either suspended or the buses were deviated and escorted.  The intimidation of bus drivers was also rife in Atlantis over the weekend‚ with bus drivers operating the feeder routes being threatened with firearms on Saturday morning.”

Read this report by Dave Chambers at TimesLive


PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS

Sace’s plan to re-register teachers every three years hangs on union buy-in

BusinessLive reports that a plan for teachers to re-register with the SA Council for Educators (Sace) has run into union opposition, with claims it would tamper with conditions of service, the organisation told MPs on Tuesday.  Sace currently registers teachers on a once-off basis, effectively giving them a certificate for life.  This means teachers who are struck off the register for misconduct maintain their certificates, and robs Sace of a means to ensure teachers maintain their professional development.  It also limits the value of its database as a planning tool, as it contains teachers who are no longer teaching.  Sace now wants to introduce a system that requires teachers to re-register every three years, linked to a requirement that they earn at least 150 ‘‘continuing professional teacher development’’ points during this period.  CEO Ella Mokgalane made it clear that Sace could not implement teacher re-registration without the buy-in of unions, but went on to say:  “The unions are saying ‘You are tampering with our conditions of service.’  With more consultation, we will be able to bring them on board.”  She added:  “We need to be sure we don’t de-stabilise the system.  Until we agree within the profession on the issue of re-certification, we won’t move.  Out of the consultation sessions we had, we are beginning to slowly settle some of the sticky issues.”  Sace’s target date for implementation is 2020.

Read this report by Tamar Kahn in full at BusinessLive


LABOUR MARKET / JOB CREATION

It takes blood, sweat and tears to create jobs, says Jobs Fund’s head

News24 reports that according to Najwah Allie-Edries, head of National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, South Africans must realise that in the current economic climate it takes blood, sweat and tears to create jobs.  She was speaking on Tuesday in a panel discussion on public private partnerships as a way to create jobs at the Accelerating Inclusive Youth Employment conference.  The R9bn Jobs Fund was started in 2011 with the goal of thinking differently about how to grow the SA economy and create jobs.  Sustainability and value for money are key factors, as well as the ability to move communities forward.  Currently the Jobs Fund has more than 100 partners, who have been able to scale their operations with input from the fund.  "We can talk about the number of projects, the number of placements and the number of new jobs created, but the most important for the fund has been the partnerships we made and the leverage we could achieve in this way," said Allie-Edries.  So far, the Jobs Fund has approved 127 projects.  It has allocated R6.7bn in grant money and obtained a commitment of R9.5bn in matched funding.

Read this report by Carin Smith in full at Fin24


RETIREMENT FUNDS

How SA’s pension system can be improved

Moneyweb writes that SA can improve its pension system by introducing a minimum level of compulsory contributions to retirement savings vehicles or increasing the level of preservation when members change jobs.  This is indicated in the 10th Annual Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, which benchmarks the retirement income systems of 34 countries against roughly 40 indicators.  While SA scored relatively well as to the integrity of its retirement income system, the research raises questions about the adequacy and sustainability thereof and gives the country an overall score of 52.7 (C grading).  SA has been on a gradual yet rocky road with regard to retirement reform.  New regulations will require retirement funds to implement a default investment, preservation and annuity strategy by 1 March 2019, which should lead to better retirement outcomes for some members.  But high unemployment and low economic growth rate have hindered reform efforts and attempts to introduce compulsory annuitisation in the provident fund space have effectively stalled.  To improve its overall score, the researchers recommend that SA increase the minimum level of support for the poorest pensioners and increase the coverage of employees in occupational pension schemes.  They also recommend that SA Africa introduce a requirement that part of the retirement benefit from provident fund arrangements be taken as an income in retirement (as applies to pension funds and retirement annuities).

Read this report by Ingé Lamprecht in full at Moneyweb


DISCRIMINATION / RACISM / SEXISM

Nurse banned from Life Healthcare after criticising 'boere girl' for dating a black man

TimesLive reports that Larochelle Smit’s retort after a Facebook friend criticised her for dating a black man was: “We live in a wonderful country where racism is FINALLY punishable by law.”  Smit on Tuesday shared a screenshot of her discussion with Elaine Jacobs on the social media platform.  “Who are you trying to look like?” Jacobs asked her in a Facebook message‚ in Afrikaans‚ on 29 September.  Later the same day Smit wrote back:  “What do you mean?”  On Monday Jacobs responded:  “I mean‚ you’re a South African boere girl‚ but you want to look like a Kardashian???  And date k***rs??”  In reply‚ Smit detailed her plan for dealing with racists and bullies in 2018.  She then contacted Life Healthcare‚ which Jacobs listed on Facebook as her employer‚ and reported a case at the Sandton police station.  Life Healthcare said in a statement on Twitter that Jacobs had resigned from Life Anncron Hospital in Klerksdorp in 2012 and indicated further:  “She worked as an agency nurse thereafter and her last shift in the hospital was October 2017...  We have reached out to the nursing agency and informed them that Ms Jacobs’ services are not to be utilised at any Life Healthcare hospitals now and in the future.”

Read the report by Nico Gous in full at TimesLive


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Transnet board in contempt of court, says ex-CEO Gama in challenge to his axing

BusinessLive reports that axed Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama wants the Labour Court to order that the 13 members of the power utility’s board are in contempt of court.  He wants them to be jailed for 90 days, suspended for a period of time, or be fined.  Gama was served with a termination of contract letter on Sunday, with the board giving him six months’ notice, but with his last working day on Monday.  His axing came after investigations found that he and others might have acted unlawfully in relation to the purchase of locomotives.  Gama has since lodged an urgent Labour Court application in a bid to have the termination of his contract overturned, asking the court to order that he is entitled to remain in his position as Transnet CEO.  Alternatively, he wants the court to direct that pending the outcome of arbitration proceedings, he is entitled to remain in his position.  Gama’s argument is that the board is in breach of a Labour Court ruling last week ordering that his dispute with Transnet be referred to arbitration.  Transnet, however, said it was under no obligation to go to arbitration and that the court order did not stop it from taking any decision regarding Gama’s contract.  Gama apparently did not report for work on Tuesday.

Read this report by Genevieve Quintal in full at BusinessLive


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Action taken against staff involved in ‘cash-for-jobs’ scam at Soweto hospital

BusinessLive reports that Gauteng’s health department has conducted disciplinary hearings for 111 cases involving a “cash-for-jobs” scam at the Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital in Soweto.  Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng health spokesperson MEC Jack Bloom indicated that this was disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in an oral reply to his questions in the Gauteng legislature on Tuesday.  Ramokgopa divulged that trade unions had helped to uncover the scam and it had been handed over to the Hawks for investigation.  The department began its probe in 2017.  “The situation was so bad that an assassin had been hired to murder the hospital CEO‚ but he had been caught and convicted‚ and was currently awaiting sentence‚” said Bloom.  He added that cases had also been opened with the police for employees who had extorted money under the pretence that they could secure jobs for people at the hospital.  “All but eight of the 111 cases have been finalised — resulting in various periods of suspension for 98 employees‚ one demotion‚ some dismissals and a resignation‚” Bloom indicated.  He also said he was concerned that the vast majority of those who got jobs for cash were still working at the hospital‚ which had a reputation for “poor service”.

Read this report by Ernest Mabuza in full at BusinessLive

 


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