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, 31 October 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Health department head office in Civitas building a hazard for staff

The Citizen reports that the Department of Health (DOH) is planning to appeal the prohibition notice that led to its Pretoria head office being shut for being “unsafe and unhealthy”.  For the past seven months, the DOH’s staff have refused going to work in the 29-storey Civitas Building in the Pretoria CBD, saying the property, which also houses Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s office, was not health-compliant.  Workers complained of constant headaches, shortness of breath and severe sinusitis because “the building had no windows, had poor air circulation and dirty carpets”.  They also claimed its fire-fighting systems malfunctioned.  Following an assessment, the Department of Labour’s (DOL’s) inspector-general last Thursday declared Civitas Building, which is leased by the Department of Public Works, noncompliant.  This was after the Labour Court referred the department and its employees to the DOL last month, stating that it did not have jurisdiction over the matter.  Staff, including members of National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and the Public Servants Association, celebrated their victory outside the building on Tuesday.  The DOH’s deputy director-general for corporate services Valerie Rennie said they would notify staff when they could return to work.

Read this report by Rorisang Kgosana in full at The Citizen. Read too, ‘Unsafe’ health department offices evacuated, at TimesLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Joburg building fire: DA to present motion calling for resignations of MECs, at News24


MINING LABOUR

Murder trial of eight former Amcu leaders transferred to North Gauteng High Court

News24 reports that the murder and attempted murder trial of eight former Association of Mineworker and Construction Union (Amcu) leaders has been transferred to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.  The men face charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.  When the accused appeared in the Brits Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, the magistrate withdrew charges against Nkosinathi Mantashe, Sithembe Mtakane, Lungisa Madiba, Duke Mjakuca and Peterson Siyaya due to a lack of evidence against them.  The magistrate warned the remaining accused to prepare themselves before appearing in the High Court next year.  Seven of the accused are out on bail.  The trial is expected to run from 13 to 31 May 2019.  It is alleged that the accused shot and wounded the union's newly elected chairperson at a Marikana branch, Malibongwe Mdazo, on 22 July 2017.  Mdazo was accosted while leaving a soccer stadium in Mooinooi, near Rustenburg, and was shot multiple times.  Later in the day, Mveliso Biyela, another union leader, was shot multiple times and killed in Wonderkop near Marikana.  The state alleges that the same weapon used to kill Biyela was used to shoot Mdazo.

Read this report by Ntwaagae Seleka in full at News24

Implats in talks with potential 1 Shaft buyers, as restructuring proceeds

Mining Weekly reports that on Wednesday Impala Platinum (Implats) presented its first quarter production report covering the period 1 July 2018 to 30 September 2018.  A key highlight was that tonnes milled at Impala Rustenburg increased by 5.6% year-on-year to 3.15-million tonnes in the quarter, which CEO Nico Muller said reflected the positive outcomes of various initiatives implemented at the operation to improve safety, production and cost performance.  Muller added that the platinum miner remained steadfast in its resolve to eliminate high-cost production, aligned with its lower future metal prices outlook.  To that end, it has progressed the Section 189 restructuring process for 1,500 employees and has engaged with parties interested in potentially acquiring the 1 Shaft operation, which was scheduled to be put on care and maintenance in April 2019 as per the company’s restructuring plan.  Implats said it was also progressing the implementation of its Impala Rustenburg strategic restructuring plan, which included consideration being given to alternative commercial outcomes, which could include the sale of some shafts and/or full-contract mining provisions.  In parallel to the 1 Shaft disposal process, Implats is apparently continuing to engage with parties who might have an interest in the 100% outsourcing of 1 Shaft to a third-party contractor.

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly. Read too, Impala Platinum forges ahead with laying off 1,500 workers in North West, at The Citizen. Read Impala’s production report in full at Moneyweb


PROTESTS / MARCHES / CAMPAIGNS

Shutdown in nine Limpopo municipalities on Friday as unions demand resignations in VBS scandal

The Citizen reports that nine of Limpopo’s 25 municipalities are expected to come to a standstill on Friday as Cosatu and the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) put pressure on the ANC to axe cadres linked to the VBS Mutual Bank scandal.  The following municipalities might be affected: Lepelle Nkumpi, Collins Chabane, Fetakgomo, Elias Motsoaledi, Ephraim Mohale, Makhado, Vhembe district, Giyani and Tubatse in Burgersfort.  The labour federation and its affiliate indicated on Tuesday that they wanted ANC deputy provincial chair Florence Radzilani, party treasurer Danny Msiza and SA Communist Party provincial secretary Gilbert Kganyago, together with municipal managers and mayors implicated in the irregular investment of R1.5 billion in VBS, to resign.  The two organisations indicated that about 9,000 hawkers, municipal employees, stokvel society members, retrenched VBS employees, the ANCWL and the ANCYL, plus people who had invested in the bank, would take part in a protest march.  Samwu’s Ronald Mani warned:  There will be no services rendered on Friday in the affected municipalities.  Cosatu provincial secretary Gerald Twala echoed Mani’s call for dismissals or resignations.

Read this report by Alex Matlala in full at The Citizen. Read too, Makhado's ex-acting municipal manager to face disciplinary action over his involvement in VBS investment, at News24

Cosatu to take its fight against e-tolls to Ramaphosa’s door on Friday

BL PREMIUM writes that the e-tolls saga that has haunted the ANC since the implementation of the electronic tolling system on Gauteng highways in 2013 has set President Cyril Ramaphosa on a collision course with Cosatu.  With just a few months before national elections, the president will be going toe to toe with the trade union federation over the issue.  On Friday, hundreds of Cosatu members will march to his office at the Union Buildings in Pretoria to demand that he scrap the user-pays model, which the federation says is unaffordable and harms the poor and working class.  This will be the first time Cosatu has protested against the president since he took office.  The campaign was inspired by finance minister Tito Mboweni’s point during his mid-term budget policy statement last Wednesday that “if we want a road transport infrastructure that works, we need to pay our tolls”.  Mboweni said the government was committed to the user-pays principle as it was the most efficient and effective way to ensure “direct benefits of services were paid for by those who use them”.  Those few words awakened a sleeping dog that had been calmed by the government’s mixed messages over the years as calls grew for the tolls to be scrapped.  Cosatu has no plans to relent on its calls for the system to be done away with, having challenged it since before the toll gates lit up on the province’s highways.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BL Premium (paywall access)


JOBS / UNEMPLOYMENT / LAYOFFS

What economists say about SA’s shock jobless data

BusinessLive writes that SA’s inability to absorb its growing labour force has resulted in the worsening of the unemployment rate, with the expanded rate rising to its worst level in a decade.  The unemployment rate rose to 27.5% in the third quarter from 27.2% in the previous quarter this year, while expanded unemployment, which includes people who have stopped seeking work, rose to 37.3%.  Elize Kruger of NKC African Economics noted that the unemployment remained high by historical and global standards.  She commented that it was increasingly clear that the South African economy was unable to absorb all new entrants to the job market and added that the stubbornly high rate elevated the importance of recent government-led initiatives to “focus the attention of all stakeholders on policies to foster economic growth that would lead to more job creation”.  Isaac Matshego, an economist at Nedbank, said the drop in employment in private households, both on a quarterly and an annual basis, could be a reflection of financial pressures faced by that sector.  “We are going to see a continued effect of higher fuel prices, in particular; the pressure on household incomes is going to remain elevated and that could mean further job cuts in the fourth quarter of this year,” he warned.

Read this report by Asha Speckman in full at BusinessLive. Read too an editorial Jobs crisis needs action yesterday, at BusinessLive

Cracks beginning to show in Jobs Summit agreement as Cosatu takes issue with SABC layoffs

Business Report writes that the millions of South Africans out of work will be pinning their hopes on the framework agreed to at the recently concluded Jobs Summit to create employment after the third quarter jobs data showed the unemployment rate at a year high of 27.5%.  The key mining and manufacturing sectors were once again the biggest culprits in the jobs bloodbath, shedding 54,000 jobs between them in the third quarter.  In all, the number of unemployed persons rose by 127,000 to 6.2m in the period, while 92,000 jobs were created, taking the labour force to 16.4m.  The expanded definition of unemployment, including people who have stopped looking for work, rose to 37.3% in the quarter from 37.2% in the prior quarter.  Stakeholders at the Jobs Summit signed a framework agreement which outlined measures aimed at arresting the tide of unemployment and job losses.  The framework set a target of creating 275,000 jobs annually over five years.  However, cracks have begun to show in the agreed framework after labour federation Cosatu on Tuesday said the government was not committed to the framework.  It particularly took issue with planned lay-offs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which is looking at letting 982 workers go and cutting 1,200 of its freelance workers.  Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said SA had not been able to set itself on a path of people-centred development.

Read more of this report by by Kabelo Khumalo at SA Labour News

Government must explain in simple language its plan to improve unemployment, say unions

The Citizen reports that trade unions are in despair at the latest unemployment statistics revealed by Statistics SA on Tuesday.  The Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the third quarter indicated that unemployment had increased to 27.5%.  Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) spokesperson Sizwe Pamla commented:  “This is not surprising at all because very little has been done to kick start the economy and the private sector rejected the (layoff) moratorium during the recent job summit.  The people need government to explain in simple language if they have a plan or not to grow the economy that is not premised on firing those currently employed.”  SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said they were appalled by yet another rise in the rate of unemployment and he warned that worse was to come.  “The fight must now be stepped up to a new level to save every job and against the ANC president’s capitalist economic policies to prop up the system of monopoly capitalism that has pauperised the working class, created the widest inequality in the world and is now making the rich even richer and the poor even poorer,” Vavi stated.

Read this report by Chisom Jenniffer Okoye in full at The Citizen

Nehawu rejects SABC’s intention to retrench workers

ANA reports that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Tuesday rejected the stated intention of the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to retrench 981 permanent workers and over 1,000 freelancers as part of a restructuring project.  The SABC on Monday notified staff of the possible retrenchments.  “Workers cannot suffer because of the circus that was ran by one Hlaudi Motsoeneng while at the helm of the public broadcaster.  Hlaudi and the former board was allowed to run the SABC like their own spaza shop and now workers must lose their jobs because of their inability to practise good governance and financial prudency,” said Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha.  He went on to note that they found it flummoxing that treasury was willing to rescue SAA and SA Express, but no measures were put in place to save the SABC as the public broadcaster.  Nehawu called on the SABC to “negotiate in good faith”, saying the broadcaster had agreed that a facilitator be appointed by the CCMA to deal with the matter.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read too, SACP and Cosatu give SABC a stern jobs warning, on page 4 of The Star of 31 October 2018

Hlaudi mostly to blame for SABC financial crisis and the looming job losses

The Citizen reports that a wage bill of nearly half the SA Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC’s) income, poor management and a skewed staff-manager ratio are among key factors behind the public broadcaster’s planned restructuring.  It announced this week that it intended to retrench close to 1,000 permanent staff – a move it maintains will yield a cost saving of about R400 million annually.  The broadcaster also has plans to halve the number of freelancers it uses from 2,400 to 1,200.  The CCMA will facilitate the consultation process.  Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) director William Bird said the change could not be averted.  “This is an institution that – for the past five years – has been left to be in a perpetual crisis for political reasons.  It has been an unsustainable entity,” Bird opined.  Yet, the financial crisis in which the SABC finds itself can mostly be traced back to the tenure of its former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.  The corporation had to fork out R22 million to defend Motsoeneng in court during his reign.  He was a respondent in no fewer than 15 different cases in the 2013/14 financial year.  And, former SABC board member Krish Naidoo earlier this year testified that Motsoeneng’s unilateral implementation of the 90% on-air local music content led to the loss of R300 million in advertising revenue.

Read this report by Brian Sokutu in full at The Citizen. Read too, We have to cut costs or the SABC may collapse, says CEO, at Fin24. And also, We are technically insolvent‚ admits SABC, at TimesLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Seven of 10 SA’s industries record drop in labour force, at EWN
  • Unemployment rate persists near 15-year high, at Moneyweb


QUALIFICATIONS / COMPETENCIES

Unqualified municipal finance officials given ultimatum to get qualified or face the axe

IOL News reports that unqualified finance and supply chain management officials at municipalities across the country have been given 18 months to obtain their qualifications or face the chop.  Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and his Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs counterpart, Dr Zweli Mkhize, have tightened the rules regulating the appointment of officials responsible for the public purse and procurement in local government.  The Municipal Amendment Regulations on Minimum Competency Levels 2018 state that finance or supply chain management officials who do not meet the minimum competency level in the unit standards for a competency area required for their positions, must attain that minimum competency level within 18 months from the date of appointment.  The regulations also state that the attainment of competency levels within prescribed time frames must be included in performance agreements.  In accordance with the new regulations, the employment contract must also state that if the competency level is not attained within the applicable period, the employment contract will terminate automatically within one month thereafter.  Municipal managers and chief executives of municipal entities must monitor and take any necessary steps to ensure compliance.

Read this report by Loyiso Sidimba in full at IOL News


MISCONDUCT / DISMISSALS

Moyane complains to Ramaphosa that Sars inquiry judge portraying him as ‘the devil incarnate’

TimesLive reports that suspended SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane has accused retired judge Robert Nugent of being hell-bent on portraying acting Sars commissioner Mark Kingon “as an angel” while Moyane was deemed “the devil incarnate”.  In a six-page letter to Ramaphosa‚ Moyane lambasted Nugent’s interim report‚ which recommends that Moyane be fired from Sars immediately.  Moyane’s lawyer‚ Eric Mabuza‚ argued that the report constituted a “thinly-veiled attempt to campaign for the permanent appointment of Mr Mark Kingon”.  Mabuza said it was deplorable and backward that Nugent referred to Moyane as “calamitous” and to Kingon as “admirable”.  Moyane has asked Ramaphosa to reject Nugent’s report.  In his interim report‚ Nugent said it was important to fire Moyane now and not wait for the final report, which is expected to be out in December.  “We are aware that disciplinary proceedings are pending against Mr Moyane but we consider that to be irrelevant to our recommendation.  Our concern is not disciplinary transgression but instead the management of Sars‚” Nugent said in his report.  But Mabuza argued that the report fell outside of the inquiry’s terms of reference, which did not include employment issues of individuals “and specifically exclude the employment or dismissal of commissioner Moyane”.  Ramaphosa has until Friday next week to indicate to Moyane whether or not he will implement Nugent’s interim report.

Read this report by Qaanitah Hunter in full at TimesLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • City of Ekurhuleni council suspends group CFO, at News24


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Transnet suspends group finance head over misconduct allegations

ANA reports that Transnet said on Wednesday that it had suspended its former group supply chain officer Edward Thomas pending investigations into various serious allegations of misconduct involving a number of contracts.  Transnet indicated that Thomas, currently group general manager for finance, was informed on Thursday last week of the company’s intention to suspend him, and was invited to make a written representation as to why he should not be suspended.  The state-owned logistics company said it had considered his representation and was of the view that he had not provided sufficient reasons as to why he should not be placed on suspension pending completion of an investigation.  Early this week, Transnet also announced that it would continue with disciplinary action against its group treasurer Phetolo Ramosebudi, who has since resigned.  Ramosebudi was also issued with a notice of intent to suspend him, but opted to render his resignation.

Read this report in full at The Citizen


NEWS BRIEFS

  • Domestic worker agency offended by Pick n Pay's maid mugs, at The Star
  • Editorial: NHI and the health department are going nowhere slowly, at BusinessLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page