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, 12 November 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Firefighters injured in deadly fire at Bank of Lisbon building discharged from hospital

ANA reports that two firefighters injured during the fatal Bank of Lisbon building fire in the Johannesburg CBD two months ago were discharged from Milpark Hospital on Monday.  They had been in hospital since the September fire which claimed the lives of three of their colleagues.  Eight firefighters were hospitalised with various degrees of injuries, but six of them were discharged within a week.  It took three days to extinguish the blaze in the 23-storey building, which had housed the offices of the provincial departments of health, human settlements, and cooperative governance and traditional affairs.  Speaking outside the hospital, the two firefighters said they drew a lot of strength from their families and their superiors and colleagues at Johannesburg Emergency Management Services (EMS).  They will be receiving physiotherapy on an out-patient basis.  EMS spokesperson Nana Radebe indicated:  “We will just give them time to heal properly before they come back [to work].”  The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

The original of this short report is at The Citizen. Read too, Recovering firefighters struggling to deal with trauma of Joburg CBD fire, at EWN

Ditsobotla municipality beefs up security after workers forced out of offices by unemployed protestors

ANA reports that security has been beefed up at the Ditsobotla municipality in Lichtenburg in North West province after unemployed people forced municipal workers out of their offices.  Spokesperson Pius Batsile said on Monday:  “We have appointed a new security company,” before adding that all municipal workers were expected to return to work.  Last week a group of people from Boikhutso shut the municipality down, forcing employees to vacate offices and services to be disrupted.  In May 2017, a group of residents from Boikhutso, also known as Phola, held mayor Daniel Buthelezi hostage and torched a portion of the municipal buildings.  The mayor was not hurt during the incident and 32 people were arrested on charges ranging from kidnapping and arson to attempted murder.

The original of this short report is at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Parliament calls for tighter security for auditor-general staff, at BusinessLive
  • Security guard wounded in cash-in-transit heist on East Rand on Saturday, at TimesLive


MINING LABOUR

New coal mine in Bronkhorstspruit creates over 300 jobs

The Star reports that more than 300 jobs have been created at a recently opened mine in Bronkhorstspruit.  Canyon Coal opened its Khanye Colliery with a blast, following a detonation procedure led by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, the week before last.  The mine's spokesperson Neslihan Er Ogur indicated that the establishment of the mine created 316 full-time jobs and 194 temporary opportunities during the construction phase.  “When the mine is in full production, a total of 316 people will be employed on a full-time basis.  These numbers include the two plants, the mining employees, weighbridge and stockyard, laboratory, office and support personnel.  The mine is also involved in enterprise development, in order to develop small and medium enterprises to start up and develop sustainable businesses,” Ogur said.  At the opening of the mine, Mantashe said:  “We have to produce optimally.  We have resources we are not using, mines that are not being mined.  We must improve productivity.  That's why I'm excited by the presentation about your plans.”

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

Employees at Gupta’s Shiva Uranium fight for their pay

The Star reports that yet another Gupta-owned company is embroiled in a bitter legal dispute over the non-payment of desperate employees since July.  Shiva Uranium employees have approached the Companies Tribunal of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) in a bid to get their salaries in respect of July, when they received only 30% of their pay, and in respect of August, September and October, when they were not paid at all.  All employment benefit contributions (retirement fund contributions, insurance, outstanding taxes and statutory payments) have also not been paid since July.  The employees joined business rescue practitioner Chris Monyela’s bid to have two other business rescue practitioners, Mahomed Mahier Tayob and Eugene Januarie, removed.  Monyela told the tribunal that Shiva Uranium chief executive George van der Merwe had unlawfully appointed Tayob and Januarie in an attempt to disrupt the placing under business rescue of another former Gupta company.  Van der Merwe was also chief executive of two other Gupta-owned companies, Optimum Mine and Koornfontein Mines, under business rescue.  Tayob and Januarie responded to Monyela’s application, saying he failed to make a case for the relief he sought and asking the tribunal to grant them a punitive costs order against him.

This short report by Loyiso Sidimba appeared on page 2 of The Star of 9 November 2018

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • New setback for Gold Fields after blowout in costs at South Deep, at BusinessLive
  • Barbrook Mine and Lily Mine fight for survival, at Moneyweb


MARIKANA 2012 DEATHS

'Marikana children' still battling with wounds from 2012 massacre

TimesLive reports that a lawyer representing the families of the mineworkers killed at Marikana in 2012 on Friday revealed the trauma the families have gone through, with at least one of the miners’ children committing suicide.  Forty-four people died, 34 of whom were shot by police, during the strike-related unrest at Lonmin’s Marikana operations in August 2012.  Without revealing details, Adv. Teboho Mosikili said the child concerned had been a young teenager.  He advised:  “She had been complaining about depression and not liking the school she was in.  They found her hanging at the school earlier this year.”  She was one of a number of children of the killed Marikana miners that Lonmin has been paying school fees for.  Mosikili claimed that the children did not have much of a choice of which schools they were enrolled at and many of them were unhappy about the schools, which the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said were substandard.  The children also complained of how they had been labelled as the “Marikana children” at these schools.  According to Mosikili, Lonmin had done nothing to change the situation following the child’s suicide.  Mosikili spoke on Friday of the pain suffered by the children of the miners who, after hearing their fathers were killed at Lonmin, had to deal with the fact that their mothers were now working at that same mine.  This while the children were at boarding schools.

Read the full original of this report by Naledi Shange at TimesLive


UNION NEWS / STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

Hawks probing teachers’ union SAOU for fraud, corruption and money laundering

The Citizen reports that the largely Afrikaner teachers’ union, the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwyser Unie (SAOU), has been rocked by allegations of fraud, corruption and money laundering involving its top leadership.  In police statements to the Hawks, concerned members have alleged there was an elaborate scheme to fleece the union via dubious entities to which union funds were being channeled in the form of loans, rent and management fees.  The entities are Financial Services of South Africa (Finsa), TO Onderlinge Maatskappy (Toom) and the SA Education Foundation (SAEF), in respect of which the union’s top executives are alleged to be the directors.  In one of the statements, a member questioned loans totalling more than R49.8 million allegedly paid from SAEF to Toom and Finsa.  Also of concern was that the union was renting offices in Garsfontein, Pretoria, from SAEF, although the building originally belonged to the Transvaalse Onderwyvereniging, which later became SAOU.  Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu confirmed that the unit was investigating SAOU for alleged fraud, corruption, and contravention of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act.  Louw Erasmus, SAOU’s lawyer, said they were not aware of any Hawks’ investigation.

Read the full original of this report by Sipho Mabena at The Citizen


EXECUTIVE PAY / WAGE GAP

Vice-chancellors at cash-strapped universities paid multimillion-rand salaries

Sunday Times reports that cash-strapped universities have cut spending, but the executives who run them are pocketing multimillion-rand salaries.  Of SA’s 26 universities, 19 have disclosed the 2017 annual salaries of their vice-chancellors.  They range from R2.5m to R4.5m.  Stellenbosch University vice-chancellor Wim de Villiers topped the list with R4.5m, which included a R30,000 bonus.  Close behind was former University of Venda head Peter Mbati, who pocketed R4.2m.  Former University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor Ihron Rensburg received R17.6m last year, the final year of his 10-year tenure.  Of this, R13.7m was in retention incentives accumulated over the 10 years — which worked out to an average annual incentive of R1.3m.  The salaries and perks paid out to some vice-chancellors — the academic world’s equivalent of CEOs — have sparked calls for the Department of Higher Education and Training to investigate.  One vice-chancellor acknowledged that some of his peers were receiving exorbitant salaries and perks.  “There should be a uniform salary structure for all vice-chancellors,” he said, describing Rensburg’s R17.6m payout as “ridiculous”.

Read the full original of the report by Prega Govender at Sunday Times (paywall access only)

Discovery’s multi-million rand executive bonuses anger members

The Citizen reports that medical aid member have been left fuming following reports on Discovery’s plan to distribute, as detailed in its annual report, the large profit it made in the last financial year.  According to Business Report, Discovery’s remuneration committee recently approved R336.6 million in bonus payments for the directors as well as incentives for management after the money in the bonus pool rose by 33% over the previous financial year.  The bonuses will be divided as follows:  R15.8 million to be shared among seven directors; R265 million to be shared among 1,134 managers; and 203 people to share the remaining R85.1 million.  The annual report also revealed that chief executive Adrian Gore took home R19.8 million in the year, including a performance bonus of R7.7 million.  Former aide to Nelson Mandela Zelda la Grange shared the report on Twitter and expressed her outrage at her treatment at the hands of the medical aid scheme.  She was told her that her chronic allowance was depleted and that she must pay the last two months out of her own pocket despite having paid upwards of R5,000 to the scheme on a monthly basis.  La Grange’s tweet was met with a barrage of complaints in a similar vein from fellow members.

The original of this short report is at The Citizen


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Trade unions fear Nampak restructuring project will result in loss of many jobs

The Sunday Independent reports that packaging company Nampak is undergoing a “group restructuring project” which organised labour fears will result in massive job losses as the plan revolves around the company expanding its business outside the country.  The services of discredited consulting firm Bain & Company have been retained for the restructuring.  In a memorandum signed on behalf of all unions represented at Nampak by National Union of Metalworkers of SA general secretary Irvin Jim, the unions demanded that “in the absence of any agreement with labour, the company refrain from further disposals, transfers or closures of any part of its current business, including but not limited to Megapak and Nampak Glass.”  They indicated that “labour is not prepared to sit by and accept this gradual eradication of jobs in South Africa”, and demanded that the company’s CE Andre de Ruyter be replaced.  The memo also alleged that racist practices were being undertaken at the company, and affirmed that the workforce had appropriate skills, notwithstanding that management “continues to blame underperformance on a lack of skills.”  When the various allegations were put to him, De Ruyter said:  “It is not, and never has been, Nampak’s policy nor practice to embark on restructuring plans which impact unionised employees without appropriate union consultation in accordance with our obligations under law.”  But the workers wanted to know why De Ruyter was holding talks with Bain, “which has destroyed Sars, instead of talking to us”.

Read the full original of this report by Don Makatile at The Sunday Independent

Amathole District Municipality wants more jobs for workers and fewer top earners

DispatchLive reports that the technically bankrupt Amathole District Municipality is preparing to “cut the fat” by getting rid of redundant top earners.  To achieve this, the cash-strapped municipality has set aside R133m, which from next year it will offer as “mutual separation packages” to top managers “who sit around doing nothing”.  These are level 14 to 20 managers who earn between R700,000 to R1.6m per annum.  This is part of ADM municipal manager Thandekile Mnyiba five-year strategy to turn around the fortunes of the beleaguered municipality.  Council is expected to consider the plan next month.  Mnyimba wants to lower the R745m per year salary bill that has severely compromised service delivery.  He would not say how many top managers they were targeting.  “These are the people we are targeting, the high earners who are actually not adding much value.  We wanted as management to do it in one financial year but due to the financial constraints that we have, we couldn’t so we are splitting it over two years,” Mnyimba said.  For the current 2018-19 financial year, the municipality has budgeted R33m and for 2019-20, it has set aside R100m for the mutual separation packages.

Read the full original report by Siphe Macanda at DispatchLive


BASIC EDUCATION

New Zealand recruiting South African and teachers from other countries to tackle shortage

TimesLive reports that the New Zealand government indicated on 14 October that it was going to recruit 6,000 teachers from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia and Fiji to address its anticipated shortage.  New Zealand education minister Chris Hipkins said that Immigration NZ, working with the Education Ministry, directly emailed 6,000 overseas teachers who had registered an interest in working in that country to encourage them to take the next step.  But, University of Witwatersrand education expert Mary Metcalfe expressed doubts that SA teachers would respond in a high enough number to impact the local education system.  “It is often young people who seek these opportunities and these enrich their experience and ultimately benefit the profession here when they return,” she pointed out.  Unisa education expert Elias Mathipha said SA had a shortage of 18,000 teachers and added:  “The universities are not made for producing teachers for primary schools.  They are far from the communities.  We don’t even know what is happening in the classrooms.”  Basic education department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said there were currently 410,000 teachers at 25,000 schools in SA, teaching 12.9 million pupils.  He said more teachers were staying in public education, while the supply of new teachers “almost tripled”, from 8,000 in 2012 to 23,800 in 2016.

Read the full original of the report by Nico Gous at TimesLive


EMPLOYEE FUNDS

UIF ‘discrimination’ against asylum seekers and refugees could be challenged in court

Saturday Star reports that the Department of Labour (DOL) has been accused of infringing on the constitutional rights of asylum seekers and refugees because of alleged discrimination in providing access to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).  The contributory fund is a lifeline for thousands of formerly employed people across the country, but it appears that the DOL is purposefully excluding asylum seekers - even those who have contributed and are entitled to unemployment benefits.  Now, after representing an asylum seeker who has allegedly been denied UIF benefits for two years, the Pro Bono and Human Rights Practice at the law firm Cliffe Dekker Hoffmeyr is considering bringing court proceedings against the DOL to obtain relief for a Congolese asylum seeker, Ndaye Mungedi.  This could set an important precedent for others.  For seven years, Mungedi worked for a tyre manufacturing company in Kempton Park but was retrenched in April 2016 for operational reasons.  He has proved that he made UIF contribution payments throughout his time at the company.  But for almost three years the Kempton Park Labour Centre has made it all but impossible for Mungedi to apply, even though he has all of the requested documentation.  Makhosonke Buthelezi, UIF director of communications and marketing, said they did not exclude asylum seekers or refugees, but insisted that “valid identification” would be necessary.  “Mr Ndaye’s matter is still under investigation.  It is thus premature to comment,” Buthelezi also said.

Read the full original of the detailed report by Shain Germaner at Saturday Star


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

President Ramaphosa sticks to his guns about firing of Tom Moyane from Sars

BusinessLive reports that Tom Moyane's termination as SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner will not be reversed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.  In a terse letter, responding to Moyane's demand to Ramaphosa to reverse his termination of service, the state attorney said it had been advised that the president would not withdraw the notice to Moyane.  Ramaphosa fired Moyane on 1 November, after months of back and forth with the former tax boss fighting the disciplinary process against him as well as a commission of inquiry appointed to get to the bottom of a roughly R100bn hole in revenue collection by Sars over the last four years.  Ramaphosa had agreed with a recommendation by retired judge Robert Nugent, chairing the Sars inquiry, to fire Moyane.  Acting commissioner Mark Kingon will continue in the role until Ramaphosa makes a permanent appointment.  In response to Ramaphosa's decision, Moyane gave the president until Friday last week to reinstate him, arguing that his axing was unlawful.  Moyane is likely to approach the courts in a bid to get his job back.

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

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page