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, 6 November 2018.


TOP STORY – NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

Signing of national minimum wage bill imminent, likely to come into effect in January 2019

BusinessLive reports that according to presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko, the signing into law of the national minimum wage bill, which was passed by the National Council of Provinces in August 2018, is “imminent”.  Organised labour has been frustrated by delays encountered since the agreement to introduce the R20-per-hour minimum wage rate was signed in February 2017.  The originally targeted implementation date of 1 May failed to materialise, leading labour federation Cosatu to warn that the minimum wage rate was depreciating in value while President Cyril Ramaphosa was delaying signing it into law.  The national minimum wage bill is part of a package that includes amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act.  On Monday, Diko said the three labour bills sent to Ramaphosa on 30 August would be signed soon.  If the president signs the bills into law during November, as planned, the implementation date would likely be scheduled for January 2019 to allow employers to adjust to the rates.  According to the legislation, the minimum wage rate should be reviewed annually, starting in 2019.  

Read the full original of this report by Theto Mahlakoana at BusinessLive


MINING LABOUR

Fatality at Harmony’s Moab Khotsong mine

Harmony Gold advised on Monday that one of its employees succumbed to his injuries on Saturday after having been involved in a rail bound equipment accident on 29 October 2018.  The accident happened at the gold producer’s Moab Khotsong mine in Orkney.  An investigation into the accident is underway.  “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague’s life and will continue making every effort to ensure a safe working place”, Peter Steenkamp, chief executive officer of Harmony commented.  “Our condolences go to our colleague’s family, friends and colleagues”, he added.

The original of this short press release is at Harmony News

Blame in all directions for violence during NUM strike at Gold Fields’ South Deep mine

Fin24 reports that blame for instances of violence and intimidation swung back and forth between Gold Fields and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) after the first weekend of industrial action at the company’s South Deep mine.  NUM branch leaders claimed their strike did not bring any threats of violence, but that violence came from security personnel that employers assigned to the operation.  While NUM claimed that two workers were hospitalised after being run over with a motor vehicle and shot at with rubber bullets, Gold Fields denied knowledge of this, adding that all violence was perpetrated by striking workers and the company had acted in self-defence.  NUM branch secretary Thulani Mashibini said the strike, which started on Friday afternoon, got off to a great start, but that striking members were being visited with violence by private security service providers acting on the mine’s orders.  “The workers are behaving very well," he said.  However, Gold Fields spokesperson Sven Lunsche said that if anyone was perpetrating violence, it was the striking NUM members.  He insisted that where private security acted, it was out of self-defence.

Read the full original of this report by Khulekani Magubane at Fin24


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Violent strikers set truck alight on Barbara Road in Kempton Park

Kempton Express reports that what began as a surprise strike in the packaging industry three weeks ago has descended into all-out war.  Employers have to employ private security to protect staff, assets and stock as striking workers continue to raid premises and cause maximum destruction in well-coordinated attacks.  This is according to David Drew, head of commercial Sub-Saharan Africa for ALPLA South Africa, following two attacks in Kempton Park last week.  In the latest incident, a truck was set alight in Isando on Thursday afternoon last week.  It was fully loaded with highly flammable polystyrene containers and was ablaze when firefighters arrived on the scene at the intersection of Barbara and Tunny roads.  William Ntladi of the Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services (DEMS) said firefighters from both Primrose and Edenvale responded to the scene and, on arrival, they found an articulated truck well alight.

Read the original of this report by CNS Reporter and view a short video at The Citizen

Workers at West Rand District Municipality on strike over benefits

EWN reports that some workers at the West Rand District Municipality are on strike over the payment of employee benefits, including housing allowances and medical aid.  Employees last week held councillors hostage demanding salaries that had not been paid for the past three months.  The strike comes after it emerged that the cash-strapped municipality invested R77 million in the collapsed VBS Mutual Bank.  The SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) said it would halt service delivery until their demands were met.  Spokesperson Siseko Siyothula said:  “They are going to drop all the cars like the firefighter trucks and ambulances so that the premier can see what to do to service the communities.  If you stay here it means you will be affected by the strike.”

This short report by Sifiso Zulu is at EWN

Eastern Cape EMS workers' strike continues

EWN reported on Tuesday that emergency medical services (EMS) workers in the Eastern Cape remained on strike.  The illegal industrial action has forced emergency measures to be implemented.  Members of EMS services downed tools claiming that they were owed back pay, amongst other grievances.  The provincial health department's Lwandile Sicwetsha said:  "The MEC is disappointed that workers have embarked on an illegal strike as it's an essential service.  Internal processes will be taken for on-duty staff involved in this illegal strike."

This short report by Shamiela Fisher is at EWN


PROTESTS / MARCHES / CAMPAIGNS

CWU expects SABC members to wear black as part of build-up to shut down on Friday

EWN reports that the Communication Workers Union (CWU) expects hundreds of its members at the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to wear black on Wednesday as part of the build-up to a shutdown on Friday.  Unions are fighting back against planned retrenchments at the public broadcaster.  Some 981 permanent staff and over 1,000 freelancers are expected to be laid off as the cash-strapped SABC tries to restructure and claw itself back from financial disaster.  The SABC said last week it would approach the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for assistance with the process.  The CWU’s Aubrey Tshabalala said:  “We experienced that the SABC management is wanting to forge ahead with the mass retrenchments on mass dismissal of workers without even giving an ear to alternative views that we’ve as labour [sic].  So, the basis of that is that they showed no sensitivity around the matter.”  Meanwhile, the SA Communist Party (SACP) has warned the ANC that should retrenchments go ahead at the SABC and other government entities, it could cost the ANC a chunk of the workers’ votes next year.

Read the full original of this report by Katleho Sekhotho at EWN


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Numsa’s Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party hopes to shake up the left in SA

BusinessLive reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) will be launching its long-awaited worker’s party, the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP), in December.  But it still has to decide whether or not to contest the 2019 elections.  The SA Communist Party (SACP) is also mulling contesting the polls independently of the ANC and, if it and the SRWP both enter the ring, they will be scrambling for the same votes to the left of SA’s political divide.  The SRWP would also be taking on the EFF, which fashions itself as a leftist socialist party.  The new party could also attract sections of the ANC unhappy with the trajectory of the governing party under President Cyril Ramaphosa.  The SRWP has been registered as a fully-fledged party with the Independent Electoral Commission.  It will hold its inaugural congress in December, when it will decide whether to contest the 2019 elections and at which level — provincial or national.  Its election policy platform will also have to be decided on.  The SRWP’s interim chair, Zanoxolo Wayile, believes there is room for a party which represents the interests of the “working class”, particularly in the context of rising unemployment and a shrinking economy.  He added that the party would not rule out possibly working with parties with the same ideological outlook, such as the EFF, but had not yet entertained such discussions.

Read the full original of this informative report by Natasha Marrian at BusinessLive


APPOINTMENTS / RECRUITMENT

Transnet appoints Tau Morwe as acting group CEO following Gama’s axing

BusinessLive reports that state-owned freight company Transnet has appointed Tau Morwe as acting group chief executive following the axing of Siyabonga Gama.  Morwe will serve from 1 November 2018 to 30 April 2019.  Gama was served with a termination of contract letter on 21 October.  His contract was terminated with six months’ notice, however his last day at the office was 22 October.  His axing came after investigations found that he, former CEO Brian Molefe and Gupta associates might have acted unlawfully in relation to the purchase of 1,064 locomotives for R54bn.  The former CEO has approached the Labour Court in a bid to overturn his axing.  The court has yet to hand down judgment in the matter.  Transnet is also suing for R166m, which the utility said was an overpayment made to Gupta-linked Regiments Capital.  Transnet board chairman Popo Molefe said on Monday:  ”Mr Morwe’s crucial appointment will ensure that Transnet strengthens and consolidates its governance procedures, adding much-needed impetus in ensuring that our state-run institutions are well governed and serve the people of SA.”

Read this report by Genevieve Quintal in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Transnet moves on from Gama, appoints acting group CEO, at Fin24


VACANCIES / STAFFING

Northern Cape health in crisis with acute shortages of staff, medicines and ambulances

The Citizen reports that the Northern Cape is facing a healthcare crisis, with its hospitals and clinics battling acute shortages of staff, medicines and ambulances.  The majority of the province’s public facilities are unable to cope with multitudes of patients at overcrowded institutions, while the shortage of ambulances has exacerbated the situation at all hospitals.  The vacancy rate for professionals – which includes doctors, nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists – is estimated at between 70% and 75% in the province, with even the new, state-of-the-art hospitals in Upington and De Aar running on what some called “skeleton” staff.  The health department is believed to have no money to pay higher salaries to attract doctors and nurses from other parts of the country.  Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley, a referral facility, is unable to cope with the demand for specialist services and has to make transfers for operations and chronic cases to Bloemfontein.  An official described the shortage of medical staff as “historical” due to the fact that vacancies remained unfilled for a number of years.  He said many posts had had acting staff for between three and four years without permanent appointments, mainly due to lack of funds and unavailability of professionals to come and work in the province.  Some of those acting had refused to carry on in those posts because the provincial health department was not paying them the acting allowances.  They were also overworked because of the shortage of staff.

Read the full original report by Eric Naki at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Johannesburg SPCA left without a vet, at News24


MINIMUM WAGES

Public Works hikes minimum wage for EPWP workers to R92.31 a day

ANA reports that the Department of Public Works (DPW) has announced an increase in the minimum wage for all workers in the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).  With effect from 1 November it will increase from R88.00 to R92.31.  This revised minimum refers to a wage rate per day and per task performed across all EPWP sectors in all spheres of government, i.e. at national, provincial and municipal levels.  The EPWP minimum wage is increased annually in line with the inflation rate.  Stanley Henderson, deputy director-general for EPWP, indicated:  “The EPWP is a critical government initiative which makes a contribution towards a safety net to millions of South Africans who have socio-economic challenges and have the responsibility to provide for themselves and their families.”  Projects employ workers on a temporary or ongoing basis with the government, contractors, or other non-governmental organisations, creating work opportunities in infrastructure, non-state, environment and culture and social sectors.  The EPWP Ministerial Determination determine that participants should work for 40 hours per week, but they can also work on a task basis and the task sizes are governed by the average productivity of a worker in a day.

Read the full original of this report at The Citizen. Read the DPW’s press statement in this regard at SA Govt News


SOEs IN CRISIS

Cutting salaries by 20% won’t prevent total collapse of Denel, Solidarity warns

BusinessLive reports that members of trade union Solidarity at struggling state-owned arms manufacturer Denel have rejected a proposal to cut their salaries by about 20% from the end of November.  Denel is battling to stay afloat after reporting a R1.7bn loss for the 2017-2018 financial year.  It was late paying managers and specialists their full salaries earlier in 2018.  Solidarity, which represents about a quarter of Denel's workforce of 4,000 people, said in a statement that selling equity in Denel was the only way to save the company.  "Privatisation or partial privatisation of Denel is the only thing that will prevent the total collapse of Denel, not the proposed 20% savings on employees' salaries," Solidarity’s Johan Botha said.  Saudi Arabia recently approached SA about taking a stake in or inking partnership deals with Denel.  President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week that Denel was "ripe" for joint-venture partnerships, but that the government would want to retain control if any stake sale went ahead.

Read the full original report by Alexander Winning at BusinessLive. Read Solidarity’s press statement at Solidarity News

Pravin Gordhan backs SAA’s survival as a state company ‘if staff get on board’

BL PREMIUM reports that Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan indicated on Monday that he did not believe SAA, which has lost about R18bn in the past four financial years and is dependent on state guarantees, should be sold.  This was in contrast to finance minister Tito Mboweni, who told an investor conference in New York last week that the country was "unlikely to sort out the situation" and that the airline should be closed down.  Mboweni’s words attracted a predictably furious response from trade unions.  In the medium-term budget policy statement in October, the airline received another R5bn to repay debt.  Gordhan addressed hundreds of employees at the airline’s Kempton Park headquarters on Monday, when he was asked to "pronounce clearly" that the airline would not be privatised.  "The South African public is losing patience with SAA and doesn’t think it is viable," Gordhan said. "It’s for you, working together, to prove you can make this a good business."  He said it was simply "survive or die", adding that “you can survive well, if you do the right things."  The national carrier has been looking for an equity partner as it seeks to cut its losses.  Gordhan on Monday told SAA staff that the time would come when they would call on anyone interested in buying around a 25% share of the airline to come forward, but that was not now.  The state would remain the majority shareholder, he stated.

Read the full original of this report by Genevieve Quintal at BL Premium (paywall access)

Hlaudi labels SABC bosses ‘clueless’, says layoffs won’t help them

SowetanLive reports that former SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has hit back at the public broadcaster.  He has described its new leadership as "clueless and obsessed with blaming" him for the current financial crisis.  Motsoeneng, who is embroiled in legal disputes with the SABC over the payment of his pension, said on Monday that the layoffs facing more than 2,000 SABC workers were avoidable.  He also accused the new leadership of misleading the public for claiming that they were earning less than those in office during his tenure.  Motsoeneng said there was an "obsession" with him being labelled the source of the current dire financial situation at the public broadcaster.  He claimed that the SABC “was performing under our leadership, nobody was retrenched,” but even if the 2,000 employees were retrenched, the SABC would still fail to turn the corner.  Motsoeneng laughed off the new leadership's move aimed at recouping R60m from employees who were unduly appointed and promoted during his tenure.  A SABC spokesperson reacted by saying:  "The SABC would like to make it clear that Motsoeneng was the central figure in the complete financial and governance collapse of the corporation which the current executive is redressing."

Read the full original if this report by Isaac Mahlangu at SowetanLive


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Staffing company dismisses 300 drivers who tested positive for dagga

The Citizen reports that Johannesburg-based staffing company Innovative Staffing Solutions has fired 300 drivers after they tested positive for marijuana (dagga).  This comes less than two months after the Constitutional Court’s ruling permitting the private use of cannabis.  MD Arnoux Mare defended the action, saying the legalisation of dagga did not mean drivers who tested positive for the substance were not in violation of their work code and conduct.  While unions appeared to understand this, they questioned whether the company had followed proper procedure.  SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) spokesperson Zanele Sabela said 300 was a high number and raised questions about the manner in which the drivers had been tested.  He advised the 300 drivers to initiate unfair dismissal cases against Innovative Staffing Solutions.  Mare, however, was adamant that the firm’s decision was correct and that his company could not take the risk of incurring damage to people or personal and public property.  He said that all their drivers signed a contract specifying that they were not allowed to work while under the influence of alcohol and/or intoxicating drugs, whether on the premises of the employer or a client, or any premises where duties were performed.  The SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) offered to represent the dismissed drivers.  “We will ensure that they are given a fair hearing,” said spokesperson Patrick Craven.

Read the full original of this report by Eric Naki at The Citizen


NEWS BRIEFS

  • Cash-in-transit robberies declining, says Bheki Cele, at The Citizen
  • MyCiTi bus set alight in Cape Town, at News24
  • Opinion: Dear Saftu, please grow up, at City Press

 


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