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, 30 October 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Another government building, in Pretoria, declared unsafe

eNCA reports that members of the Public Servants Association (PSA) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) on Tuesday gathered outside the Civitas building in Pretoria, refusing to enter for work.  This was after the Labour Department issued a prohibition order against the National Health Department in Pretoria declaring the building to be unsafe.  The building can only be occupied once it meets occupational health and safety standards.  An inspector was dispatched to the building following legal action by unions, who said their members have experienced respiratory and other health issues caused by their working conditions.  This came just months after three firefighters lost their lives fighting a blaze at the Bank of Lisbon building in the Johannesburg city centre.  That building was found to be non-compliant with occupational health and safety standards.

This short report is at eNCA

Some R175,000 paid each month for idle guards at burnt-out Bank of Lisbon building

The Star reports that the Gauteng Department of Health is paying nearly R175,000 every month to guard the Bank of Lisbon building - which caught fire on 5 September, leading to the tragic deaths of three firefighters.  As there was no fire escape in the building, one of them plunged to his death after slipping and falling out of a window he had broken to let in air to be able to breathe.  One died due to smoke inhalation and the other one burnt to death.  The building, which was only 21% compliant with safety and health regulations, was used to house three provincial departments, namely health, co-operative governance and human settlements.  Government workers have been relocated to other buildings since the blaze, but there are security guards permanently stationed outside the building, which has been sealed off while investigations into the cause of the fire continue.  Health Department spokesperson Lesemang Matuka confirmed that they were still contracted to the security company on a month-to-month basis at a cost of R174,993 a month.

This short report by Tebogo Monama is at The Star

Family of car guard slain by unprovoked street punch 'shocked and distressed'

SowetanLive writes that the family member of an Ekurhuleni car guard who was reportedly killed by a motorist have expressed shock and distress at his death.  Vusi Mgiqwa was allegedly assaulted by a motorist on Friday night outside a restaurant in Springs, on the Far East Rand.  An eyewitness who had come to buy food at one of the restaurants in Selcourt told Sowetan a motorist punched Mgiqwa unprovoked.  "When he hit him, Vusi fell straight on his head.  I jumped out of my car and went to check out Vusi and realised he was unconscious.  I ran after the guy.  He got into his car and sped away.  He even drove through the red robots."  The man was described as tall and big.  The eyewitness was able to capture the man on video as he sped off in a VW Golf.  An ambulance was called and Mgiqwa, who had regained consciousness, was taken to the Pholosong Hospital.  On Saturday morning, his sister and his girlfriend went to the hospital to see him, but when they arrived he had already been declared dead.  A police spokesperson said the man accused of the assault was arrested on Monday and faced a charge of murder.  He was due to appear in the Springs Magistrate's Court.

Read the report by Penwell Dlamini in full at SowetanLive

KZN Sharks Board employee suffers heart attack out at sea, airlifted to hospital

Daily News reports that a KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Sharks Board employee had to be airlifted to hospital after he began experiencing chest pains whilst out at sea on Monday.  The man was apparently aboard a vessel conducting routine work on offshore shark nets when he became gravely ill.  IPSS Medical Rescue, Paul Herbst, said fortunately the skipper on board was first aid trained and was able to assess the situation.  The skipper then alerted IPSS for assistance.  Herbst said the Black Eagle/IPSS aero-medical helicopter airlifted the patient from Zinkwazi Beach to hospital.  He commented further:  "This case is a good example of access to definitive care where circumstances allow for it.  Flying time from scene to hospital was seventeen minutes.  Thirteen minutes after landing at Lenmed Ethekweni Hospital, a Heart, Stroke and Renal Centre of Excellence, the patient was assessed by specialist physicians and prepped for complex case management."

Read this report in full at Daily News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Guard wounded in latest KZN cash-in-transit robbery, at The Citizen


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Nedlac approves Solidarity strike action over ‘race exclusion’ from employee share ownerships schemes

Engineering News reports that trade union Solidarity on Tuesday announced that the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) had approved its application to undertake a lawful strike against the exclusion of white employees from employee share ownership plans.  In terms of the Nedlac decision, all of Solidarity’s 180,000 members can now embark on legal strike action in solidarity with those members who are employees of Sasol and that have been excluded from participating in the second phase of Sasol’s Khanyisa broad-based black economic empowerment ownership scheme, based on their race.  Solidarity filed the application on 25 July, and proceeded to the High Court after Nedlac initially denied the application.  Meanwhile, Solidarity has also embarked on a legal process for the Labour Court to give a ruling on whether Sasol’s exclusion of white employees was lawful.  “Following the Nedlac decision, we will now revert to our members about a possible strike mandate.  A possibility is to let it coincide with the court case.  However, we will let our members guide us in this decision,” indicated Solidarity CE Dirk Hermann.

This short report is at Engineering News. Read Solidarity’s press statement at SA Labour News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


BARGAINING COUNCILS

Unions in public health bargaining council ‘inflating memberships’ to get increase funding

The Star reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) and several Cosatu and Saftu unions have been fingered for allegedly misrepresenting their membership in the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council.  This has allegedly allowed them to receive more money from the council than they were entitled to.  This was revealed by an independent audit report released earlier this month.  Unions are required to submit their audited membership at the end of every financial year to the bargaining council, which it must further audit.  In terms of discrepancies between members submitted by unions and membership verified through the National Treasury, the PSA recorded the most unaccounted membership figures among the 10 affected unions, at 9,279.  But, according to the report, the unions denied inflating membership.  They indicated as some of the reasons they could not account for their stated membership that deductions from their members were being cancelled where no cancellation letter had been received by the unions, and that some members took leave without pay.  PSA deputy general manager Tahir Maepa alleged that there was a conspiracy within the public service where public servants working with the accounting system Persal cancelled subscriptions for the PSA.  The report could see all Saftu unions – including its biggest affiliate in the council, Nupsaw – removed from the council as their real combined membership has been exposed as not meeting the 30,000 minimum threshold for participating in the council.  Nupsaw’s general secretary, Success Mataitsane, said the report was biased and aimed at removing Saftu unions from the council.

Read more of this report by Siviwe Feketha at SA Labour News


LABOUR MARKET / JOBS / UNEMPLOYMENT

Unemployment rate rises to 27.5% in third quarter

Engineering News reports that the official unemployment rate increased to 27.5% during the third quarter, compared with 27.2% in the second quarter and 26.7% in the first quarter.  This translated to 6.2m unemployed people.  Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the third quarter was released on Tuesday.  Adding 2.7m discouraged work seekers and 800,000 people with other reasons for not actively seeking employment, the number of unemployed people increased to 9.8m.  During the third quarter, the working-age population increased by 153,000 people, compared with the second quarter.  About 38m were of working age (between 15 to 64 years), of which 16.4m were employed.  Of the 10.3m people aged between 15 and 24, 31.3% had not been in employment, education and training in the third quarter.  The informal sector recorded employment gains of 188,000, while the formal sector, private households and agriculture, which accounted for 68.7% of total employment, recorded declines in employment.  Among the industries that recorded declines were private households by 30,000, mining by 29,000 and manufacturing by 25,000.  Provinces that recorded the biggest employment losses were the Free State at 14,000 and the Eastern Cape at 13,000.

Read this report in full at Engineering News. Read too, No respite for SA’s jobless as unemployment rate climbs to 27.5%, at BusinessLive


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Government to set up pay strategy to cope with recent wage increases

BusinessLive reports that the government is to develop a remuneration strategy in all its three spheres and in public entities to help provinces and national departments cope with the added financial burden of footing public servants’ wage increases.  The Department of Public Service & Administration (DPSA) said this strategy, among other interventions, would ensure that the public sector wage bill remained within the budget ceiling.  Finance Minister Tito Mboweni wants the provinces and national departments to absorb the R30bn government wage bill increase emanating from the 2018 agreement with organised labour.  He announced during his medium-term budget policy statement last Wednesday that the Treasury did not have additional funds to add to the wage bill.  The DPSA called on government employers to implement strict management of overtime, performance bonuses and leave.  Mboweni suggested natural attrition as one of the ways the government could deal with the hefty wage bill, which he said was not sustainable as it could eat into funds used for service delivery.  His sentiments were met with outrage by organised labour, with trade unions such as the Public Servants Association (PSA) saying the Treasury’s inability to foot the bill would unsettle labour relations between the government and its employees.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS

SABC restructuring puts almost 1,000 jobs at risk

Fin24 reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and labour unions have agreed to appoint a facilitator from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in respect of its restructuring exercise, which could affect 981 jobs.  The national broadcaster said in a statement on Monday that it was envisaged that all employees and at all levels in the SABC would be affected by restructuring.  "This would include group services, provincial operations, commercial enterprises, media technology and infrastructure, news, radio, sport and television.  At this stage, and should retrenchments be necessary, it is envisaged that 981 employees may possibly be retrenched as a result of the restructuring, across all the aforesaid business units and operations of the SABC," the organisation indicated.  Half of the 2,400 freelancers would be affected.  The SABC said it expected to make a cost saving of approximately R440m per annum, exclusive of the cost savings from the planned reduction of freelancers.  In a separate statement, the SABC said that it would be approaching the Labour Court to apply to have irregular appointments and promotions at the broadcaster declared invalid.  The statement indicated that a verification process, which followed the 2014 report of the then-Public Protector, confirmed that there were employees who had been promoted, paid more or appointed irregularly.

Read this report in full at Fin24. Read too, SABC notifies staff of possible retrenchments in restructure, at IOL News

Unions slam SABC over proposed mass retrenchments

EWN reports that labour unions have criticised the SA Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC’s) intention to retrench a large section of its workforce as part of a restructuring strategy.  The public broadcaster announced on Monday that 981 permanent employees might be cut, while over 1,000 freelancers could be affected.  The SABC halted the process earlier this month after a meeting with unions where it was agreed that a CCMA facilitator would be appointed to assist with the matter.  According to Aubrey Tshabalala of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), that process has not taken place.  “We’re waiting to go to the CCMA and all of a sudden now they release this into the public and we find that as a bizarre approach by the SABC,” he claimed.  Hannes du Buisson of the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu) commented that the SABC was going about the process the wrong way and said:  “We believe that the SABC has not done proper homework on this issue, the time span that they had to come up with the positions and the number of people has been very short.”  Du Buisson went on to indicate:  “If the SABC does not follow due process, we will approach the Labour Court to interdict the SABC and compel it to follow due process.”

Read this report by Sifiso Zulu in full at EWN. Read too, Cosatu, political parties shocked by SABC’s announcement to retrench workers, at SABC News


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING

Tuition at colleges must aim to close gap between education and workplace, says Pandor

The Citizen reports that Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor said on Monday that colleges should equip students with skills required by industry through changing the nature of tuition programmes offered so as to close the gap between education and workplace.  She was speaking at the annual two-day career development summit organised by the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FPM Seta).  Encouraging pupils at the summit to “take up getaway subjects like maths and science”, Pandor said pupils should “aim to become manufacturers of the future – not just workers”.  South Africa, Pandor said, had “an oversupply of low-skilled workers and an undersupply of the highly skilled.”  She went on note:  “We struggle to compete in labour-intensive global markets because our unskilled workers are too expensive and we struggle to compete in capital-intensive markets because we are short of high-level skills…  Globally, the market for people with portable skills is exploding in areas like engineering, finance, marketing, construction, health, management and technology.”  Pandor advised that government had drawn up a list of priority trades, which included bricklayers, electricians, boilermakers, plumbers, mechanics, carpenters, fitters and turners.

Read this report by Brian Sokutu in full at The Citizen. Read too, PFM Seta empowering youth through skills development programmes, at The Citizen


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Moyane meets Ramaphosa’s deadline for submission on why he shouldn’t be axed from Sars

BusinessLive reports that suspended SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane has made a submission to President Cyril Ramaphosa on why he should not be removed from his post.  Ramaphosa wrote to Moyane after receiving an interim report from the Sars commission of inquiry chairman, retired Judge Robert Nugent, recommending that Moyane be removed and a permanent tax boss appointed without delay in order to stabilise Sars.  Nugent had made it clear that his recommendation was one which related to the “management” of Sars and was separate from the disciplinary charges against Moyane for gross misconduct and bringing the tax agency into disrepute.  Ramaphosa then wrote to Moyane asking why he should not implement the recommendation and gave him until Friday last week to respond.  A Presidency spokeswoman on Monday confirmed receiving Moyane’s submission.  Meanwhile, Moyane is challenging both the Nugent inquiry and the disciplinary process against him, chaired by advocate Azhar Bham, in the Constitutional Court.

Read this report by Natasha Marrian in full at BusinessLive


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO WORK

Cape Town's new Rail Enforcement Unit hits the ground running, makes first arrest

News24 reports that one hundred members of the new Rail Enforcement Unit began their maiden voyage at Cape Town train station on Monday.  During a short trip to Salt River station, the unit was witnessed in action as they made their first arrest when, what appeared to be tik, was discovered in a commuter's bag.  The unit will play a critical role in safeguarding rail infrastructure and commuters, mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, said during the unit's launch.  In May 2018, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government signed a memorandum agreeing to the establishment of the unit.  Plans for the unit hit a snag when it was reported that Prasa had failed to honour the agreement by not paying its R16m share in September.  The rail agency recommitted to the memorandum and the contribution was paid.  Prasa regional manager Richard Walker said the inter-governmental co-operation was a "watershed moment" and congratulated all parties involved.  MEC for Transport, Donald Grant, also acknowledged the importance of the deployment.

Read this report by Christina Pitt in full at News24. Read too, Cape Town’s new train police hit the tracks, at TimesLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page