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, 28 November 2018.


MINING LABOUR

New offer to end Gold Fields strike likely to be rejected, says union

Fin24 reports that Gold Fields has presented a new offer to the National Union of Mineworkers in an attempt to end the union’s almost four-week strike at South Deep against retrenchments, but a union official says it is unlikely to be accepted.  The company is offering a “sweetener” to the retrenchment package.  It has also proposed to provide sacked employees with skills training and make provision for a "call-back" option, which would allow them to be first in line to be reemployed if opportunities arose, provided they matched the requisite skill set.  The union has until 17:00 on Friday to accept the offer before it lapses.  The NUM downed tools on 2 November in protest against 1,082 employees and 420 contractors losing their positions, following a CCMA facilitation process.  On Wednesday, Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland said he was unable to foresee how long the industrial action would continue if the offer was not accepted by Friday.  “There’s no turning back from the process,” Holland said, adding that the retrenchments were undertaken as a last resort to save the remaining 4,000 jobs at the operation.  NUM branch secretary at South Deep, Thulani Mashibini, indicated that nothing had materially changed in the mining group's latest offer, and the union would reject it.

Read the full original report by Tehillah Niselow at Fin24

Gold Fields warns workers striking over job cuts there will be no ‘sweetener deals’

Mining Weekly reports that Gold Fields says the settlement agreement offered to striking workers will expire at 17:00 on Friday, 30 November and has warned that no further “sweetener deals” will be introduced should the deadline lapse.  In a media briefing on Wednesday, CEO Nick Holland reiterated the company’s statement, issued on Tuesday, that the company has acted in “utmost good faith” in terms of its restructuring and that the planned retrenchment of 1,082 employees and 420 contractors at the South Deep mine was a last resort.  Employees at the mine went on strike on 2 November in protest over the planned retrenchments.  The settlement agreement, which seeks to resolve the strike, proposes the payment of an additional month’s pay to the severance payments on top of the retrenchment packages.  This amounts to an additional R30-million over and above the estimated R180-million spent on the retrenchment packages.  It also sets aside R10-million for portable skills training, which retrenched workers can access.  The agreement further proposes staggering the ‘no work no pay’ salary deductions over a period of four months instead of deducting it in one month.  Holland commented that “there is no way back … these people [have] been retrenched, have left the organisation and have been paid.  It’s time to look forward and determine how do we look after the people that remain.”

Read the full original report at Mining Weekly

Sibanye-Stillwater says acts of violence are continuing at its South African gold mines

Mining Weekly reports that Sibanye-Stillwater on Wednesday reported that acts of violence continued to be experienced at its SA gold operations, where a strike by Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members was underway.  “The situation at the Beatrix and Driefontein operations, in particular, remains tense, with striking workers causing damage to company property and restricting access to the company’s operating mine sites,” Sibanye alleged.  The producer went on to observe:  “Sibanye respects the right of Amcu members to strike and upholds the right of employees who wish to work to do so.  By their unlawful actions, striking employees are preventing other employees from exercising their right to work, thereby inflicting financial hardship on employees who do not wish to strike.”  The gold miner noted that the acts of violence were in contravention of the interdict granted to Sibanye by the Labour Court on 22 November.  Amcu members embarked on the strike action on 21 November, after wage negotiations could not be concluded.  Sibanye previously reached a wage agreement with three other unions.

Read the original of this report at Mining Weekly

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Editorial: Amcu brinkmanship at Sibanye mines could backfire on workers, at BusinessLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Staff 'shut down' Pietermaritzburg mortuary in protest against 'appalling conditions'

TimesLive reports that workers shut down the Fort Napier Medico Legal Mortuary in Pietermaritzburg on Monday and Tuesday, turning away families who had come to fetch the bodies of loved ones.  Workers have been on a go-slow for two weeks, demanding a wage increase and better working conditions.  On Monday workers barricaded the road, blocking the mortuary gates with mortuary vans.  Families who had come to collect the bodies of their loved ones were turned away.  One of the workers said the workers had waited for MEC for health Sibongiseni Dhlomo to respond to their demands on Friday, but he had not done so.  "They say the matter is being dealt with on a national level.  We have decided to shut down the mortuary.  The department has to respond," he stated.  Workers’ demands include the repair of air conditioners, better equipment and back pay.  "The conditions inside are shocking," said another worker.  Another worker told GroundUp that no autopsies would be performed.  Phakama Ndunakazi of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said the union fully supported the workers.

Read the full original report by Nompendulo Ngubane and GroundUp at TimesLive. Read too, Workers shut down Pietermaritzburg mortuary, down tools, at The Citizen

Amid go-slow, North West health department suspends four employees for alleged property vandalism

EWN reports that the North West Health Department has suspended four employees for allegedly vandalising property at the provincial offices in Mahikeng.  Employees have been on a go-slow since last week after the head of department Thabo Lekalakala returned from special leave.  Lekalakala was placed on precautionary suspension earlier this year over a contract given to Gupta-linked healthcare company Mediosa.  The department's Tebogo Lekgethwane said an investigation into the conduct of the employees would be launched.  “The idea is that there should be disciplinary committee quickly set up to deal with allegations like this one levelled against them.  Once that process is completed, whether they’re found guilty or not, they should be served with the verdict.”

Read the short original report by Sifiso Zulu at EWN


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Saftu rejects Numsa’s newly registered Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party

BusinessLive reports that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) dealt a major blow to its affiliate the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) on Tuesday, by rejecting its newly registered Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP).  The party, which was founded by Numsa, hopes to attract workers’ support as it considers whether or not to contest the 2019 national elections.  The rejection also signals what has been described as “fraught” relations between Numsa and Saftu leaders.  In a statement issued on Tuesday after its national executive committee (NEC) meeting, Saftu reiterated its political independence, saying it would “resist being stampeded into becoming a labour desk for, or forming an alliance with, any political party”.  Instead, it would discuss the possibility of forming a socialist-oriented workers party of its own with other organisations of a similar ideological posture.  Saftu was one of more than 140 organisations that participated in a working-class summit earlier in 2018, and it resolved to explore whether a workers’ party was a viable vehicle through which to pursue the struggles of poor people and workers.

Read the full original report by Theto Mahlakoana at BusinessLive


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

SABC to forge ahead with job cuts as it fails to raise cash from banks

BusinessLive reports that the loss-making SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says no lender is prepared to do business with it amid a severe cash crunch that could result in the public broadcaster failing to pay salaries and service providers in the coming months.  The broadcaster said this was owing to its disclaimer audit opinion and the fact that the auditor-general had raised doubts about its going-concern status.  The broadcaster told members of parliament’s communications portfolio committee on Tuesday that retrenchments were unavoidable, despite objections by the government, labour and MPs.  The planned job cuts are likely to affect close to 1,000 permanent employees and 1,200 freelancers.  The SABC indicated that it needed a cash injection of at least R3bn to stay afloat and possibly avert retrenchments.  In September, the broadcaster, which recorded a staggering loss of R622m in the financial year ended March, was granted borrowing powers and a borrowing limit of up to R1.2bn by the Treasury.  But, banks were not willing to take the risk of lending money, said SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe.  Consultations were still ongoing with organised labour in terms of minimising job cuts, said board chair Bongumusa Makhathini.

Read the full original of the report by Bekezela Phakathi at BusinessLive. Read too, SAA’s most-pressing issue is borrowing money to pay December salaries, at BusinessLive

MPs instruct SABC board to conduct skills, salary audits before cutting jobs

EWN reports that the board and top management of the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) have been told to carry out skills and salary audits before pressing ahead with plans to cut jobs at the public broadcaster.  The SABC is technically insolvent.  It is in talks with unions over plans to restructure and cut costs, which could see 981 permanent employees retrenched and the loss of about 1,200 freelance jobs.  But Parliament’s communications portfolio committee on Tuesday told the SABC board and management that it must first carry out audits of staff skills and wages before retrenching anyone.  The SABC said that retrenchments were unavoidable as it needed to restructure to slash costs and banks were reluctant to lend the corporation money due to its disclaimed audit opinion and doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern.  But MPs across parties insisted skills and salary audits must be done first.  The committee also wants to hear from SABC unions and staff.

Read the full original report by Gaye Davis at EWN

Omnia to cut 125 jobs in chemicals division restructuring

BusinessLive reports that Omnia, a provider of specialised chemical products and services, is to cut 125 jobs, or 15% of the jobs, in its chemicals business.  The looming restructuring and job losses at Omnia’s Protea Chemicals bear testimony to the effects of a constrained manufacturing sector which, in Omnia’s case, has resulted in reduced production volumes and demand.  Protea Chemicals buys and sells chemicals.  MD Adriaan de Lange said:  “The issue is that we are not able to add a lot of value.  We just distribute chemicals in a very competitive environment and in a market that does not grow.  We are now trying to reposition the business and to focus on creating commercial solutions by focusing on the distribution channels and safe handling of chemicals.”  Omnia’s products are used in the mining, agriculture and chemicals sectors.  De Lange observed:  “Farmers are under financial pressure.  We can see that.  A lot of people say it is due to land reform.  Farming is going through a negative cycle at the moment.  There is oversupply of land.  This has caused prices of land to drop.”  He also cited uncertainty about the Mining Charter.

Read the full original report in this regard by Siseko Njobeni at BusinessLive


BASIC EDUCATION

Are there too many teachers in KZN?

The Mercury reports that the number of students training to be teachers at tertiary institutions in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) should be reduced because there is an “oversupply” in the province.  This is according to members of the provincial legislature, who have advised the education department to assess its needs and project how many teachers it will need over the next few years.  The MPLs suggested that the department should then negotiate with tertiary institutions to lower their intake numbers for students wanting to be teachers.  Chairperson of the finance portfolio committee Sipho Nkosi said:  “A few years ago, we asked the former Education MEC Senzo Mchunu to ask institutions of higher learning in the province to increase student intake in education.  We would advise the current MEC for Education, Mthandeni Dlungwana, to go back to the institutions and ask them to reduce the number of students, based on the department’s needs.”  He said they were concerned about the number of graduate teachers who were struggling to find jobs and were migrating to Gauteng.  Mchunu indicated that when he had approached tertiary institutions, the province had been short of teachers, especially in maths and science.

Read the full original report by Thami Magubane at The Mercury


HIGHER EDUCATION / QUALIFICATIONS

NSFAS warns TVET colleges to brace for flood of last-minute ‘walk-in’ applications in January

BusinessLive reports that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) on Tuesday warned that Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges should brace themselves for a wave in January of last minute, “walk-in” applications for places.  NSFAS estimates that about 200,000 prospective TVET college students are likely to attempt walk-in registration early in 2019 as almost nine out of 10 applications received so far for the 2019 academic year had come from students aiming for university.  “That is a big problem, and will place NSFAS on the back foot,” administrator Randall Carolissen told members of parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education.  Higher education institutions discourage walk-ins because they pose safety and security problems.  Higher education and training minister, Naledi Pandor, placed NSFAS under administration in August and appointed Carolissen as administrator.  He told MPs that he found an organisation in which there had been a complete collapse of governance and financial controls.  But, there have been marked improvements since August, with a more stable IT system and better communication and data exchange with higher education institutions.

Read the full original report in this regard by Tamar Kahn at BusinessLive

Fake qualifications a major concern in the public and private sectors, says Naledi Pandor

BusinessLive reports that according to Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor, misrepresentation of qualifications was a major concern in the public and private sectors.  Speaking in a heated debate on the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill on Tuesday, Pandor said the bill strengthened the ability of South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to verify qualifications.  It also provided for the naming and shaming of frauds who claimed fake qualifications in an online public register administered by SAQA.  The minister refuted claims made by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) that the bill would impose an intolerable burden.  ‘We have an extensive learner database within SAQA with over 20-milllion learner records on what is a digital database, which can be accessed fairly speedily.  We believe this legislation and its requirements are enforceable,” said Pandor before the National Assembly voted to pass the bill.  It will now be referred to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.  Tuesday’s debate was heated after weekend reports that DA senior MP and chief whip John Steenhuisen might not meet his party’s proposed minimum requirement of a degree for the holding of the position of the party’s chief whip

Read the full original report by Bekezela Phakathi at BusinessLive


CORRUPTION

Hlaudi: In my era at the SABC there was no fraud and corruption

IOL News reports that former SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has slammed a bid by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to recover more than R21.7 million from him for illegal appointments and dismissals at the public broadcaster.  The SIU team appeared before Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications on Tuesday, where it briefed the committee on the interim presidential investigation into the cash-strapped SABC.  Motsoeneng, however, said in regard to the ‘success fees’ that he did not pay himself and saw nothing irregular with appointments.  He noted that the custodian of appointments and salary increments at SABC was the human resources department.  SIU head advocate Jan Lekhoa Mothibi stated:  “The SIU and SABC jointly issued summons on February 5, 2018, in the High Court in Johannesburg against Mr Motsoeneng for a civil case aimed at the recovery of R11,508,549.12 in terms of the success fee that was paid.  We also intend to recover R10,235,453.20 for the irregular appointments and salary increments, suspensions and unlawful terminations of employment.”  The SIU also confirmed the Public Protector’s findings that the appointments of SABC staff or salary increases were irregular.

Read the full original report by Mary Jane Mphahlele at IOL News

 


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