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
Thursday, 1 November 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Joburg construction worker survives being impaled with rod through torso

ANA reports that a construction worker has been hospitalised after he fell onto a reinforcing steel rod and got injured when it penetrated his torso.  Netcare911 spokesperson Shawn Herbst said that paramedics responded to reports of an industrial incident on Helen Joseph Street in central Johannesburg on Wednesday morning.  “Reports from the scene indicate that a 36-year-old male construction worker fell off his scaffolding platform landing on exposed rebar which penetrated his lower torso.  Due to the nature of his injuries, the patient was treated on scene by an advanced life support paramedic and transported in a serious condition to hospital for further assessment and care,” Herbst explained.

The original of this short report is at The Citizen


MINING LABOUR

NUM to strike from Friday over Gold Fields’ plan to cut 1,100 jobs and 420 contractors at South Deep

Miningmx reports that following the issuing of retrenchment letters by Gold Fields to just over 1,200 employees at its South Deep mine on Wednesday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) served notice of a strike at the mine from Friday, 2 November.  The group said it might have to temporarily stop mining if the safety of employees was in question.  The NUM represents roughly 80% of the mine’s total workforce.  Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland indicated in a statement:  “The restructuring will help to reduce the risk of continuing operating losses and consolidates the current mining operations as a first step to building a sustainable, long-term operation.  Unfortunately, the retrenchments and the reduction in contractor numbers have become essential to ensure this and save the remaining 3,500 jobs.”  This latest restructuring was announced on 14 August.  Commenting on the looming strike, Gold Fields said that consultations with the NUM, as well as with Uasa, had been “extensive” and included an offer of voluntary severance packages, which had been taken up by 177 employees.  “Despite these efforts South Deep still has to reduce its workforce by approximately 1,100 staff members and retrenchment letters were sent to these employees on 31 October 2018.  In addition, the mine will reduce the number of contractors by approximately 420 people,” the gold producer indicated.

Read this report by David McKay in full at Miningmx. See too a short report at Moneyweb. And also, Gold Fields faces strike at embattled South Deep over retrenchment plans, at BusinessLive

Lonmin’s ambitious social and labour plans return to haunt it by putting Sibanye takeover at risk

BL Premium writes that the bold projects Lonmin promised in plans underpinning its mining rights were perhaps too ambitious, assuming tasks that should be the local government’s responsibility, and which have now put a takeover by Sibanye-Stillwater at risk.  In a court bid to suspend Lonmin’s mines until it complies with its social and labour plans (SLPs) and prevent it from finalising any deals — a factor that would potentially scupper the all-share takeover bid by Sibanye — the Mining Forum of SA (MFSA) has highlighted the dismal track record of the platinum producer in delivering on its SLPs.  Lonmin’s failure to build 5,500 new homes for its workers, many of which were displaced from hostel renovations into single or family units, has been acknowledged by the company’s board as being “linked” to the 2012 violence at Marikana.  Lonmin built just three show houses while the majority of its workforce lived in appalling conditions in informal settlements near the mines.  Included in a broad spread of projects to improve living conditions for communities around its mines were investments to provide bulk water infrastructure; building and improving roads; waste removal; installing street lights; renovating the Brits forensic mortuary; improving security at clinics in the area; and buying ambulances for R31m.  Lonmin and the mineral resources department, which the MFSA accuses of abrogating its responsibilities in enforcing the company’s compliance with the plans, are both contesting the forum’s charges.  However, court documents from Lonmin and the department clearly reveal that the company did not fulfil large chunks of its SLPs.

Read this excellent report by Allan Seccombe in full at BL Premium (paywall access)

Ongoing interventions improve Sibanye-Stillwater’s safety performance

Mining Weekly reports that the safety performance of precious-metals mining company Sibanye-Stillwater improved markedly in the three months ended 30 September owing to ongoing safety interventions gaining traction at all operations.  The tragic safety incidents in the first half of the year, compounded by seismicity-impacted areas requiring rehabilitation, had, however, resulted in a lowered 2018 gold production forecast.  CEO Neal Froneman, said the quarter’s safety improvement had been assisted by continuing tripartite cooperation and input from key stakeholders, arising from successful safety summits.  “The focus on safe production remains the highest priority across the group,” Froneman said, adding that the South African operations achieved more than 2.7-million fatality-free shifts as at 31 October.  Sibanye-Stillwater said it intended to defend itself vigorously against class action lawsuits relating to statements on safety practices.  Meanwhile, the Competition Tribunal hearing on Sibanye-Stillwater’s proposed acquisition of Lonmin Plc has been rescheduled for the week of 12 November, with a ruling anticipated before the end of November.  Also, Sibanye-Stillwater now owns 38.05% of surface mining company DRDGold, with an option to attain up to 50.1%  

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly


PROTESTS / MARCHES / CAMPAIGNS

ANC’s People’s March on Friday with Cosatu against e-tolls ‘another election ploy’, says DA

The Citizen reports that the ANC in Gauteng will on Friday lead a ‘People’s March’ to the Union Buildings in Tshwane in protest against e-tolls, corruption, fuel hikes, VAT increases and other concerns that “have a direct influence on the high cost of living”.  The march will be supported by the party’s alliance partners, namely labour federation Cosatu, the Sacp and Sanco.  Participants will gather at Burgers Park at 9am before marching to the Union Buildings where a memorandum will be handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa.  The Democratic Alliance (DA) has labelled the march as “just another election ploy” by the ANC ahead of next year’s general elections.  Tshwane mayor and Gauteng premier candidate for the DA Solly Msimanga commented:  “If the tripartite alliance is serious about scrapping the e-tolls in Gauteng then they should put pressure on their Sacp Secretary-General and Transport Minister, Blade Nzimande, to end the e-toll contract that is due to expire in December.”  He added that the ANC-led national and Gauteng governments were “not singing from the same hymn sheet” because Finance Minister Tito Mboweni last week urged road users in Gauteng to pay their tolls so roads could be maintained, while Gauteng Premier David Makhura “a day later indicated that e-tolls have no future in Gauteng and that an alternative must be found”.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read too, Mboweni's 'pay our tolls' remark draws ire of Cosatu, Fedusa, at Fin24

West Rand municipal councillors held hostage by unpaid workers freed

EWN reported on Thursday morning that West Rand District Municipal councillors held hostage in the council chambers by staff had been freed.  Municipal district workers stormed the council meeting on Wednesday and held the councillors captive, demanding that their salaries be paid.  The bankrupt municipality, which invested R77-million in VBS Mutual Bank, failed to pay October wages and pension fund contributions have been deferred over the past three months.  According to the workers, they have now been paid a portion of their salaries.  Municipal manager David Mokoena indicated that money ring-fenced for a project had been used to pay the 140 salaries as a temporary solution.  Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance, Uhuru Moiloa, said the municipality had been going through financial constraints after it was not paid money following services it rendered for a local municipality.  He indicated that he would be meeting with Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize next week to deal with the matter.

Read this report by Sifiso Zulu in full at EWN. Read too, Workers at VBS-linked West Rand municipality stage sit-in over unpaid salaries, at News24. And also, West Rand council denies hostage situation‚ but confirms late-night meeting over salary woes, at TimesLive

Violent Stutterheim protests flare up again amid accusations of jobs for sexual favours

ANA reports that hundreds of Stutterheim residents from the Mlungisi township were unable to access their social grants payments on Wednesday due to violent clashes between the police and protesters.  Protests entered a second day on Wednesday, following break of a week from the protests, which began on 16 October.  Angry Stutterheim youths began protesting accusing Amahtlathi Local Municipality officials of nepotism, taking bribes in exchange for jobs and offering jobs in exchange for sexual favours.  They also alleged that the local municipal Mayor Pateka Qaba was not a resident of the municipality and was offering jobs to people who were coming from outside Amahtlathi.  They burned down the buildings owned by the municipalities of Amathole and Amahtlathi, a clinic and caused massive damage to infrastructure.  Protests began again at 4am on Wednesday, with protesters barricading roads with rocks, woods and burning tyres.  Clashes occurred as police moved in to remove the barricades.  Most businesses in town were closed down.  Two protesters were arrested for charges related to public violence and were due to appear in court soon.

Read the original of this report in full at The Citizen

Pick n Pay could face protests by domestic workers’ union over ‘Maid’ and ‘Gardener’ mugs

The Star reports that the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers’ Union (Sadsawu) has threatened to mobilise its members to protest outside Pick n Pay franchises across the country over the retailer’s maid and gardener mugs.  Sadsawu general secretary Myrtle Witbooi said on Wednesday that the controversial mugs with “The Maid” and “The Gardener” written on them reminded her of apartheid.  Pick n Pay has since removed the offending mugs from its shelves, but that has not placated Witbooi who has demanded an apology.  “What Pick n Pay did was dehumanising.  It took us back to apartheid years.  Why are they giving titles?  We are also human beings.  We are going to get all our members in all the provinces to participate in demonstrations outside Pick n Pay stores,” she said, adding that they wanted the mugs destroyed.  In a series of tweets, Pick n Pay responded and apologised, saying:  “Thank you for alerting us.  This is completely unacceptable.  We have contacted the store (Observatory in Cape Town), and we can confirm that these mugs have been removed from the store, and are not stocked in any other Pick n Pay stores.”

Read the original of this report by Sthembiso Sithole in full at The Star


PRICES / TARIFFS

Proposal to cap price of 93 octane petrol to be finalised by end of January

TimesLive reports that the proposal to cap the price of 93 octane petrol would be finalised by the end of January, energy minister Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday during a question-and-answer session in parliament.  The government is looking to introduce measures to boost competition in setting the price of 93 octane petrol that could result in lower prices and shift higher numbers of consumers into using it rather than higher-octane 95.  The proposal has been circulated to the fuel wholesale and retail industries‚ which have been asked to comment on it.  “We are very serious about changing and putting a cap on 93 octane,” said Radebe, who added that this would go a long way in alleviating pressure on consumers.  Meanwhile, after months of fuel price increases, the Automobile Association (AA) said the petrol price was expected to drop by about 16c/l in November, while prices of diesel and illuminating paraffin would probably increase by about 30c/l.

Read this report by Bekezela Phakathi & Sunita Menon in full at BusinessLive


REMUNERATION

Cops’ criminally low salaries blamed for bribery incidents

The Star reports that a police re-enlistment advert has revealed how poorly paid the men and women in blue are, with thousands of police officers earning a meagre R14,633 per month.  The SA Police Union (Sapu) on Wednesday confirmed that an entry-level officer in the rank of constable earned only R175,596 a year, which translated to R14,633 a month before tax, union fees, unemployment insurance and medical aid deductions, among other things.  A unnamed police constable said that after all the deductions from his salary, he earned a little more than R8,000.  “I pay more than R3,000 in tax.  That is killing me.  We are on the streets chasing criminals and put our lives in danger but we have nothing to show for it,” said the 28-year-old officer, who started his job in January.  In his view, the poor payment of police was contributing to their involvement in crime, including taking bribes or colluding with criminals.  Sapu president Mpho Kwinika agreed with the constable and said that management should re-think salaries and pay officers better.  “Entry-level officers are the most important in the force.  When they are well-paid, they are happy and will do their job better,” Kwinika opined.

Read this report by Sibongile Mashaba in full at The Star


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

CWU warns of legal action against SABC over retrenchments

The Citizen reports that the cash-strapped SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is forging ahead with plans to retrench close to 1,000 staff members, despite the Communication Workers Union (CWU) warning it will take legal action to stop that action.  CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said on Wednesday that they “will not hesitate in applying for a court interdict” to stop the massive retrenchments.  The SABC financial crunch has also seen the Congress of the People (Cope) stepping up pressure on the ANC, with national spokesperson Dennis Bloem saying:  “The ANC is at the centre of the destruction of the SABC.  We are not surprised by the dead silence from the ANC when thousands of SABC workers and their families are facing a bleak future – unemployment.  We want to reiterate that we are totally opposed to these planned retrenchments…  If there is no other option, retrenchment must start with senior management and highly paid managers – not the foot soldiers.”  According to figures supplied by the SABC, the corporation’s revenue for the 2017/18 financial year stood at R6.6 billion against a budget of R7.3 billion – an underperformance of R709 million.

Read the original report by Brian Sokutu in full at The Citizen. Read too, SABC headed for collapse unless wage bill is trimmed, at SA Labour News


RETIREMENT FUNDS

'Mass resignation of board members of private security provident fund not admission of any guilt'

The Star reports that the Private Security Sector Provident Fund (PSSPF) has rejected the claim that the resignation of 10 board trustees amid a corruption investigation was an admission of guilt.  The fund said the board members concerned had voluntarily stepped down.  The resignations followed a deed of settlement between the fund and the Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA) at the instructions of the high court.  According to the order, at least 10 members were to tender their resignations by 17 September and serve their notice until 31 November.  Prior to this order, the fund had 20 board members.  The chairperson of the PSSPF’s claims subcommittee explained:  “To find an amicable solution in resolving the issues with the FSCA, the board had to reduce the number of serving trustees by 50%.  This entailed the trustees voluntarily resigning at the end of September and serving their notice period till the end of November 2018.  It was not an admission of any wrongdoing from those who resigned.”  Prior to the court process, the FSCA had been investigating allegations that the per-meeting fee policy was being abused by some trustees.  Some were being paid R7,900 for attending a single board meeting and R5,768 for a subcommittee meeting.  In June 2017, there were 19 planned meetings, when it fact 66 were held, resulting in one trustee pocketing R190,000 in that month alone.

Read the original of this report by Lindile Sifile in full at The Star

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Alexander Forbes feels fallout of ‘missing’ pension billions, at BusinessLive


CORRUPTION / CRIME

Two top cops suspended over dubious multi-million rand transactions

TimesLive reports that two high-ranking officials within the SA Police Service have been suspended following an ongoing forensic investigation which has implicated them in dubious financial transactions amounting to hundreds of millions of rand.  This was revealed on Wednesday by National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole at a meeting with parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).  Sitole told MPs that SAPS CFO Lieutenant-General Phalaphala Avhashoni Ramikosi and the police's technology chief‚ Lieutenant-General Adeline Shezi‚ have been placed on suspension after their names featured prominently in questionable contracts entered into by SAPS with controversial service provider Forensic Data Analysts (FDA)‚ including R106-million in over-expenditure over three years.  The report also shows that Ramikosi‚ Shezi and 21 other officials "made misrepresentations to national treasury" – in some instances to facilitate payments to FDA by seeking budget reprioritisations.  FDA supplies critical infrastructure and technological equipment used by SAPS in forensic investigations.  Of the 23 SAPS officials implicated in the procurement scandal‚ three resigned during the forensic probe‚ and one quit during a disciplinary process.  Disciplinary action is currently under way against two others. The other 17 are still under investigation.

Read this report by Thabo Mokone in full at TimesLive

High salaries and jobs for friends: Former Pikitup MD implicated in Public Protector's report

News24 reports that former Pikitup managing director Amanda Nair has featured prominently in the Public Protector's report on the waste management service provider, with legal action against her being one of the recommendations.  The report, which was released by Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Wednesday, highlights improper salary increases, irregular awarding of contracts and recruitment violations.  Mkhwebane called for the current Pikitup chairperson to institute civil litigation against Nair and any seniors who acted with her during her tenure as managing director within three months of her report's release.  She called for the "recovery of unauthorised, fruitless or wasteful expenditure by Nair or any official in their personal capacity for all the financial misconduct identified".  The chairperson of the Pikitup board must ensure that disciplinary steps are taken against all implicated officials of Pikitup who together with Nair, flouted, subverted or violated the law and supply chain policy.  Shocking details emerged from the report, which indicates that those close to Nair were always taken care of.  There are salary discrepancies among employees of Pikitup as all officials related to Nair were remunerated on higher salary scale levels," the report found.

Read this report by Kaveel Singh in full at News24. See too, Pikitup employees could face criminal charges over financial misconduct, at EWN

Brits police officer arrested in connection with foiled cash-in-transit heist

ANA reports that a policeman and a 36-year-old man, arrested in connection with a failed cash-in-transit heist, were due to appear in the Brits Magistrate’s Court on Thursday to apply for bail.  The policeman, attached to the Brits police station, faces charges of conspiracy to commit robbery, possession of an unlicensed or prohibited firearm and ammunition and the possession of a suspected stolen motor vehicle.  He was arrested after the police received a tip-off that a cash-in-transit heist was planned to take place on the Rosslyn road near Brits.  A police team was successfully deployed to prevent the heist and catch the suspects.  After the police spotted an Audi and two Mercedes Benz vehicles, a shoot-out and a high-speed car chase ensued.  Police managed to stop one of the Mercedes vehicles and arrest a man as well as recover a rifle.  They were given information about a house in Elandsrand in Brits where the suspects were hiding.  A suspected stolen Mercedes was found at the property that allegedly belongs to a police officer.  The policeman was arrested and an unlicensed firearm and ammunition were seized.

Read the original of this report in full at The Citizen


NEWS BRIEFS

  • Legal bodies fail to nominate a single woman to lead NPA, at BusinessLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page