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
Monday, 5 November 2018.


MINING LABOUR

'Reckless' Greenpeace wants SA to sit in the dark, says NUM

TimesLive reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Monday that Greenpeace had been “reckless” when it stated that Mpumalanga has the worst nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution across six continents.  The union in Highveld said:  “The reckless and impetuous statement is a clear campaign by Greenpeace Africa that the government should close power stations and coal mines in Mpumalanga.”  Greenpeace Africa climate and energy campaign manager Melita Steele indicated:  “It has been reported before that the Witbank area has the world’s dirtiest air‚ and now this analysis of high-tech satellite data has revealed that Mpumalanga province is the global number one hotspot for NO2 emissions.”  She said it confirmed that SA has “the most polluting cluster of coal-fired power stations in the world‚ which is both disturbing and very scary”.  But the NUM said Greenpeace was advancing the interests of rich people and did not care about poor people and workers.  NUM Highveld secretary Tshilidzi Mathavha noted:  “If the power stations and coal mines are closed in Mpumalanga several towns including Witbank will become ghost towns.  If the power stations and mines are shut down‚ the economy of our country will collapse and the people will be left in darkness.”

Read the full original report by Nico Gous at TimesLive


FARMING LABOUR

Ex-farmworker reports alleged desecration of family graves on farm to police for investigation

SowetanLive reports that an elderly man has accused a farm owner of desecrating his family-marked graves for cattle grazing.  Former farmworker Paul Swele, 64, from Bela Bela in Limpopo, said his plea with the farmer owner to allow him to mark the graves again had been ignored.  "I buried my two children Jan and Sinah, and granddaughter, Lydia.  All of them died when they were a year old.  When we left the farm in 2007, after it was sold, I marked the graves with bricks so that I could regularly visit and pay respect," he indicated.  Swele, from Leseding township, said he had not visited the graves for the past three years, but always took a glance at the site whenever he passed by the road.  "I was shocked last month when I saw a portion of the land where my children are sleeping [buried] cleared with a grader.  When I confronted the farmer, he told me he didn't know that there were graves on the site, and I should produce proof.  Swele said he had since reported the matter to the police, who confirmed that a case of violation of graves was being investigated.  Farm owner Paul Vuuren said he was willing to help the family, but this had become a police matter.  "First we need to be sure if there are indeed graves there, then I could assist in marking the graves and erecting tombstones," he indicated.

Read the full original of this report by Peter Ramothwala at SowetanLive


LABOUR MARKET / JOB CREATION

KZN leading the pack in job creation as SA unemployment rises

Sunday Tribune writes that while the country is shedding jobs, the future looks brighter for KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), which registered the highest increase of employment in the third quarter.  The Quarterly Labour Force Survey conducted by Statistics SA showed that 98,000 more people got employment in KZN in the third quarter of 2018.  The Western Cape followed with 95,000.  Employment losses were recorded in Free State (48,000), Eastern Cape (31,000) and North West (4,000).  KZN MEC for Economic Development and Environmental Affairs and ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala lauded the ANC-led government for its initiatives that resulted in the employment figures rising.  He said among their recipes for growth was the assistance they gave to small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs).  “This enables SMMEs to play a role in the provincial economy which then leads to job creation.  We will continue to open doors for small business to play a role in creating more jobs,” said Zikalala.  He also cited the Dube Tradeport and the Richards Bay Industrial Zone as among the reasons for the growth in employment.

Read the original of this report by Lungani Zungu at Sunday Tribune


RECRUITMENT / STAFFING / VACANCIES

Mango’s questionable executive search process costs R1-million with nothing to show

Business Report writes that struggling low-cost airline Mango allegedly paid R1 million to a recruitment agency to find a permanent chief executive.  But it ended up appointing the airline’s chief financial officer Marelize Labuschagne in an acting capacity after she threatened to resign because she was not consulted.  Talent Africa was paid to search for Nico Bezuidenhout’s permanent replacement in 2016, but the recruitment process was halted after Labuschagne threatened to quit.  Apparently the airline identified a probable replacement among seven shortlisted candidates, but later retracted after Labuschagne’s threat.  On Friday, Mango announced that it had appointed Labuschagne as acting chief executive and that “the process to appoint a permanent chief executive is still ongoing.”  Insiders commented that Mango had nothing to show for the recruitment process despite paying the money.  “A previous recruitment process cost R1m in taxpayer money.  Why do they have to do it again?  Is it to bring somebody that they have selected without a process?” said one.  Mango is a subsidiary of loss-making national carrier SAA.  In emails seen by Business Report, Labuschagne said she had stopped the appointment of the candidate as no governance process was followed.  She said she also felt that her reputation had been attacked.

Read the full original of this report by Dineo Faku at Business Report

Loss of key technical staff and funding constraints could hamper Stats SA’s ability to do its work

Business Times reports that statistician-general Risenga Maluleke has warned that Statistics SA was losing key technical staff at a rate faster than it was able to replace them, which could hamper the organisation's ability to do its work.  The vacancy rate at the country's national statistical service has worsened since financial year-end in March, when it had been 13.9%, and now stands at 15%.  "In the last 12 months alone we have lost more than 170 staff members, some of them in critical positions," Maluleke indicated last week.  Vacancies are for key posts such as those held by methodologists and technical staff in population and social statistics, and economics.  Stats SA is caught in a bind.  In 2016, a moratorium was placed on hiring after the National Treasury implemented belt-tightening measures due to weaker revenue and it has not been lifted.  In May last year, the Treasury cut the organisation's budget by 13%.  As the result of funding shortages, Stats SA now has an "overexpenditure on compensation of employees", Maluleke noted.  "We're talking about warm bodies, people who are there, that we don't have enough money to pay them," he warned.  Maluleke declined to disclose how much money was required, but said it was "considerable enough".

Read the full original report by Asha Speckman at BL Premium (paywall access)

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Absa beefs up executive with new appointments, at The Citizen


EMPLOYEE OWNERSHIP SCHEMES

Beneficiaries of Imperial’s Ukhamba employee trust fight in court to get it dissolved

City Press reports that beneficiaries of a multibillion-rand employee trust are fighting in court for it to be dissolved owing to concerns about a lack of transparency and because it is allegedly not benefiting them.  Ukhamba Trust, an employee benefit scheme set up in 1998 for employees of automotive and logistics company Imperial, is being taken to court by a group of the trust’s beneficiaries.  The trust has 15,553 beneficiaries.  Acting on behalf of 1,100 beneficiaries in the matter, which is before the Johannesburg High Court, Reuben Malabela, one of beneficiaries, has filed court documents applying for the trust to be dissolved and the money held therein to be distributed.  The trust apparently owns a 10.1% stake in Imperial and holds funds worth more than R2 billion.  Malabela explained:  “We want the trust dissolved because the beneficiaries are not benefiting.  The trust has been amended several times without the knowledge of the beneficiaries and they were never given a chance to elect their representative among the trustees.  There are also a lot of people who were left out even though they were employees of Imperial and there was never a reason given for that.”  Another issue is that a ‘lot’ of beneficiaries have since died and their next of kin were never alerted of the trust benefits.  Oshy Tugendhaft, representing the trust, said there was nothing untoward about the trust and he denied the allegations.

Read more of this City Press report by Lesetja Malope at SA Labour News


EXECUTIVE PAY

Tsogo Sun set to pay millions for executives’ losses on loan granted to purchase shares

BusinessLive reports that hotel and gaming group Tsogo Sun is set to bail out executives who face losses on the R200m interest-free loan they were granted in 2014 to purchase shares.  The group has lost about a third of its value in the past two years.  The bail-out proposal is said to be the latest evidence of pressure on executive remuneration caused by sustained weakness in the share market.  It will be implemented if controlling shareholder Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), one of the most high-profile union investment companies, gets minority shareholder backing to spin off Tsogo Sun’s properties into the separately listed entity Hospitality Property Fund.  At the time of the loan, which has no fixed repayment date and was designed to align executive interests with those of shareholders, it was slammed by unions as empowerment for just a few people.  In exchange for the loan, the five executives concerned gave up their entitlement to a risk-free annual cash payment awarded in terms of the company’s phantom share scheme, which tracks the value of the shares.  At the weekend, Cosatu spokesperson Matthew Parks said HCI was one of the best-run union investment companies and they had confidence the matter would be managed well.  At the annual general meeting in October, 38% of shareholders voted against Tsogo Sun’s remuneration report.

Read in full the original of this report by Ann Crotty at BusinessLive


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Satawu hits out at Tito Mboweni over comment that SAA should be closed down

BusinessLive reports that the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) on Friday hit out at finance minister Tito Mboweni for suggesting that the loss-making state-owned airline SAA should be closed down.  Mboweni had been speaking at an event with investors in New York on Thursday and said:  “[It] is loss-making, it’s unlikely to sort out the situation, in my view we should close it down…  It is unlikely that you are going to find any private-sector equity partner who will come join this asset.”  SAA has recorded losses for about a decade and has run up a massive debt.  It needs recapitalisation of close to R22bn over the next three years to turn it around.  Satawu, one of the major unions at SAA, described Mboweni’s statements as “irresponsible”.  The union pointed out that closing down the airline would leave 8,000 people jobless and, with five people dependent on each of the 8,000 salaries, “then we’ll have ourselves an unmitigated disaster.  “Turning SAA around is a mammoth task and will not happen overnight.  In the meantime, all we ask is for the minister of finance to restrain himself,” said Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela.

Read the full original of this report by Bekezela Phakathi at BusinessLive. Read Satawu’s press statement in this regard at Polity

ANC calls on SABC to reconsider extensive retrenchments

BusinessLive reports that the ANC has supported the call by communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane for the financially ailing SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to reconsider its plan to retrench staff.  On Monday last week, the SABC announced that it would be proceeding with retrenchments in a bid to cut costs.  It said it was looking at cutting 981 of its 3,376 permanent employees and 1,200 of its 2,400 freelancers.  The ANC said it did not believe Mokonyane was undermining the SABC board’s independence and authority by making the call.  Spokesperson Pule Mabe indicated:  ‘‘The government, like any other stakeholder or actor in South African society, has a right to express an opinion.  The government does not lose that right because they appoint a board.’’  He said expression of an opinion was not an instruction, but a request for the view to be noted and factored in.  The EFF has called the looming retrenchments ‘‘disgusting’’.  It said the state of the SABC’s finances had to be put squarely in the hands of the ANC.  The party called on finance minister Tito Mboweni to urgently intervene, by giving the SABC a letter of financial guarantee so it could find the funds and not retrench thousands of workers.

Read the full original of this report by Genevieve Quintal at BusinessLive

SACP issues warning to ANC over retrenchments at SABC and other state entities

EWN reports that the SA Communist Party (SACP) has warned the African National Congress (ANC) that should retrenchments go ahead at the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and other state entities, it could cost the ANC a chunk of the workers’ votes in the general election.  The SACP hosted its annual Red October rally on Sunday in Nyanga, joined by its alliance partners in the province.  Western Cape SACP secretary Benson Ngqentsu said the announcements of retrenchments by various organisations, including the SABC and the mining sector, would provoke workers to use the ballot box to fight back.  “We want to remind them that 70% of workers, employed or unemployed, are the people who are the biggest voters of the ANC.  If you want to anger workers, good luck.”  SACP first deputy secretary general Solly Mapaila said the SABC needed to reverse its decision as there was “no need at the moment or any other moment to retrench workers at the SABC.”  The SACP also warned the ANC not to sideline it.

Read the original of this report by Masa Kekana at EWN


DISCRIMINATION / RACISM / SEXISM

eThekwini’s head of legal found guilty of hate speech against fellow employee

Sunday Tribune reports that the head of eThekwini’s legal and compliance unit was this week found guilty of hate speech, racism and gross dishonesty.  Gideon Phungula made headlines when a recording of him referring to city treasurer Krish Kumar by the c-word went viral.  He will learn on Wednesday if he will keep his job.  Phungula was found guilty of two of the six charges he faced at a disciplinary hearing.  Phungula opted to represent himself after his legal representative withdrew from the matter.  The charges he faced were related to a leaked phone recording with a colleague.  In the recordings, Phungula allegedly tried to convince the colleague to manipulate a disciplinary hearing of the suspended deputy head of supply chain, Zandile Sithole, with the aim of having her reinstated. He alleged certain politicians wanted Sithole back in her role.  Sithole was suspended for alleged tender corruption.  In his ruling, the chairperson said he was satisfied that the evidence provided by the colleague was reliable.  Phungula was cleared on charges related to the accuracy of the information he provided in his application of employment.

Read the full original of this report by Siphelele Buthelezi at Sunday Tribune


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Former Gauteng health chief wants his job back after fight of three years clears his name

The Star reports that for the past three years, Abey Marokoane has been fighting to clear his name after being fired and arrested for corruption.  Now, the former chief director of risk management and internal control at the Gauteng Health Department, has been cleared - and he wants his job back.  Marokoane was arrested in November 2014 and fired in January 2015 for alleged corruption in security tenders.  He was finally cleared in July.  “When the case finally went to court, what came out when we were doing testimonies is that the person who accused me was a service provider who connived with the department officials and made up these allegations against me,” Marokoane indicated.  In the time the case was going on, Marokoane said he struggled to make ends meet.  When he was fired, he was earning R1.1million, but then had to make do with nothing.  To make ends meet, he had to cash-in his pension and he depended on his parents for money.  Marokoane sent a letter to MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa two weeks ago, asking for his job back.  Human resources management at the provincial health department said the legal department was going to study the documents before making a decision.  Marokoane is also in discussions with his lawyers on whether to pursue a case against the person who falsely accused him.

Read the full original of this report by Tebogo Monama at The Star


CORRUPTION

'We need to clean out the dirt', Gordhan tells SAA employees

Fin24 reports that ‘pay back the money’ was Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s message to corrupt individuals who has stolen from SA Airways (SAA).  He was addressing SAA employees at the state-owned carrier’s head office east of Johannesburg on Monday.  "SAA is an excellent airline, but a poor business," Gordhan said, adding that "We need to clean out the dirt for this airline to survive."  The once-celebrated airline has not been able to generate a profit since 2011.  It survives largely on state guarantees and is generally perceived by ratings agencies as a drain on state coffers.  Using the analogy of a shirt full of holes, Gordhan said nobody would be interested in buying SAA as it was.  Gordhan was referring to comments made by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni alluding to the selling of SAA.  Gordhan called on employees to report corruption, saying no one had done so since he took over as public enterprises minister eight months ago.  In what was largely a pep talk, employees reacted with cheers as Gordhan laid into those who had left SAA "a mess".  Gordhan said he would return to SAA on Friday "and go from department to department" to see for himself what the problems were.

Read the full original of this report by Riaan Grobler at Fin24


NEWS BRIEFS

  • Retired school principal admits to raping pupils 30 years later, at The Citizen
  • Energy department decides no petrol price hike in November, at BusinessLive
  • Zweli Mkhize urges public servants to be honest and work hard, at IOL News

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page