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, 6 December 2018.


TOP STORY – NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

President Ramaphosa to announce effective date for national minimum wage on Friday

ANA reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Friday proclaim the effective date for the recently approved national minimum wage (NMW).  The National Minimum Wage Act was assented to two weeks ago and sets the NMW at R20 per hour.  The Presidency said Ramaphosa had elected to conduct the proclamation in a ceremonial setting in order to affirm the centrality of collaboration and consensus among social partners in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to the resolution of challenges facing the country.  “Kliptown has been selected for this engagement for its place in South Africa’s liberation history as the site of the adoption of the Freedom Charter which six decades ago called for a minimum wage as part of protection for vulnerable workers,” the Presidency indicated.

Read the full original report in this regard at The Citizen


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY (OHS)

Another worker injured at FNB Stadium, following upon rigger who fell to his death at gig

SowetanLive reports that following the tragic death of a rigger at FNB Stadium, another person got injured at the same venue on Monday.  Siyabonga Ngonze died while rigging lights for the Global Citizen Festival that took place on Sunday.  The second person sustained an ankle injury while equipment was being taken down.  He was taken to Milpark Hospital where he is recuperating.  According to Gearhouse SA, the second incident occurred when a speaker box on a forklift fell while in transit and hit the worker’s ankle as he stepped forward.  Asked if Gearhouse was complying with safety standards, national marketing manager Robyn D'Alessandro said:  "Gearhouse adheres to rigorous international safety standards and takes great precaution to prevent this type of incident.  It has been in operation for 25 years, and to date this tragic incident has been the only fatality.  We are taking the accident very seriously and are assisting the relevant authorities with a full investigation."

Read Patience Bambalele’s full original report in this regard at SowetanLive

Attacks on EMS staff causing reduction in ambulances services in Western Cape

Cape Argus writes trauma experienced by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel attacked while on the job, is an indication of larger socio-economic challenges facing SA, according to Deputy Minister of Health Mathume Phaahla.  He reported on Wednesday that 56 attacks has taken place on EMS members in the Western Cape this year, which had resulted in reduced ambulance services around the province.  Phaahla, who spoke at the CPUT EMS Safety Symposium, was joined by community members and safety experts, who helped unpack the scale of the problem to try to rectify issues going into the festive season.  He said attacks on EMS staff happened because respect for human life was lacking in society.  Phaahla spoke of a concept of “red zones”, or creating access-controlled zones, as a way of dealing with the scourge of ambulance attacks.  Other interventions implemented by the department included training neighbourhood watch members and CPF members to be first responders and provide critical care until ambulance staff were able to get to the scene.

Read Athina May’s full original report in this regard at Cape Argus. Read too, Fifty-six attacks on Western Cape EMS staff between January and October, at EWN


MINING LABOUR

Seven Anglo American employees make global list of top 100 women in mining

Mining Weekly reports that seven female Anglo American employees made it onto the Women in Mining’s annual 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining list.  The judging panel found that Anglo subsidiary De Beers Consolidated Mines CEO Mpumi Zikalala and Anglo subsidiary Kumba Iron Ore Kolomela mine overseer Dineo Phaladi had especially persevered in the face of adversity, found solutions to challenges and empowered others by being a voice and role model for diversity and inclusion.  The Anglo employees were selected among 650 nominations from around the world.  The other five Anglo employees who made the 2018 list were UK-based Anglo head of talent Malebogo Mpugwa, Anglo Brazil iron-ore and nickel CFO Ana Sanches, UK-based Anglo safety and sustainable development group head Tracey Kerr, Gold Fields Australia openpit mining head Dr Carmen Letton, and UK-based De Beers diamond revenue analyst Susanna Woodward.

Read the full original report at Mining Weekly

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Opinion: More conversations needed to confront the violence of mining in SA, at Mining Weekly
  • Press statement: World Bank President Dr Jim Yong Kim visits occupational lung disease outreach, at SA Labour News
  • DMR: Minister Mantashe steadfast on engaging communities to find amicable solutions to mining and development, at Polity

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Amplats, Implats cash flow flush from palladium, but platinum’s day to come, at Miningmx


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Springs guard dies from burn wounds after alleged assault by strikers in plastic sector

The Star reports that the ongoing violent strike in the plastic sector has claimed its first fatality, after a security guard succumbed to burn wounds on Tuesday.  Lesly Mphahlele, 37, of Tembisa, died at a Johannesburg hospital after he was admitted on Friday with severe burns.  It is alleged that members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) assaulted and doused him with petrol before setting him alight.  Since 1 October, Numsa has been at loggerheads with employers in the sector demanding a “living wage” and improved working conditions.  The demands include a 15% salary hike and R40 an hour.  Over the weeks, the strike has escalated into violence and has caused damage of some R125-million.  Mphahlele had been guarding a property in Springs when at around 11.45am a group of men assaulted him.  Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said it was presumptuous to assume that her union members were behind the attacks in the sector as there were other unions with an interest in the strike.  Johan Pieterse of the Plastic Converters Association of SA commented:  “This is no longer a strike but an act of violence.  Nobody takes petrol to a negotiation; it clearly shows that there was an intent to kill.”  He added that at least 11 trucks had been destroyed, mainly in Gauteng.

Read Lindile Sifile’s full original report in this regard on page 3 of The Star of 6 December 2018.   Read Saftu’s press statement on the plastic strike, at Saftu News

Strikers barred from picketing at Dis-Chem, four workers arrested

GroundUp reports that four men were arrested when 200 workers demonstrated on Wednesday in front of the Dis-Chem store in Canal Walk, Cape Town.  Workers represented by the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) were demanding better wages and working conditions and the recognition of their union.  Nupsaw’s Omar Parker related that police had a scuffle with demonstrators who had insisted on protesting in front of the shop.  “Employees have been without salary since 16 November and have lost hope.  We have asked our members to remain calm, but they are desperate.  We are appealing to the employer to normalise the situation.  Workers who are currently on duty are being given incentives and [are] mocking the ones on strike.  The employer is dividing the workers,” Parker stated.  The union’s Western Cape organiser Vuyani Shwane said the workers were demanding that Dis-Chem recognise Nupsaw, but the company claimed the union did not meet the 30% threshold.  He also said the workers were demanding: a minimum wage of R12,500 across the board; an increase of 12.5% for those earning above R12,500; and a guaranteed annual bonus equal to the basic salary.  In a press statement, Dis-Chem indicated that, in an historic first, the Labour Court had ruled that Nupsaw be barred from picketing and protest action until 27 February 2019, while upholding the union’s right to strike.

Read Tariro Washinyira’s full original report in this regard at GroundUp


STAFFING / PLACEMENTS / PROMOTIONS

Placement of new nurses for 2019 going smoothly, says government

BusinessLive reports that MPs were assured on Wednesday that virtually all of SA’s newly qualified nurses have been placed in public sector posts for 2019.  In contrast to the last-minute scramble to find positions for new nurses in previous years, the process of placing nurses who qualified in 2018 has gone smoothly, according to the health department’s chief operating officer, Gail Andrews.  A total of 3,535 nurses qualified in 2018, of whom 3,470 had already been placed, she told parliament’s portfolio committee on health.  SA nurses have been given priority, and the handful of nurses who have not been offered posts in the public sector were foreigners who were studying in SA, she indicated.  The department’s chief nursing officer, Nonhlanha Makhanya, briefed MPs on ongoing reforms to nursing qualifications, and the rationalisation of nursing colleges (more details in the report).

Read Tamar Kahn’s full original report in this regard at BusinessLive

SAPS to promote 28,000 officers effective from 1 November

EWN reports that national police management and trade unions have struck a deal that will see 28,000 police officers promoted.  They have agreed to a promotions strategy that will be implemented over the next three years.  Members from the police’s special task force, counter assault unit and tactical response teams are all due for a promotion.  The promotions will kick in from 1 November retrospectively.  “We made the commitment as the department and management through the budget speech to say we will be working on the people that are overdue (for promotion), in the circle of the next three years.  But committed that in this present financial year we’ll promote 28,000 of them,” said Police Minister Cele.  The unions involved have welcomed the move.  “We’re very happy about the decision and the thinking of those who lead us for understanding that this country needs its police officers,” Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) president Zizamele Cebekhulu said.

Read Babalo Ndenze’s short original report in this regard at EWN


YOUTH EMPLOYMENT

ANCYL in eThekwini wants R1bn for youth development and no requirement of experience for jobs

TimesLive reports that the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in KwaZulu-Natal is pushing ahead with its demand for the eThekwini municipality to allocate R1bn for youth development.  It is also targeting the private sector to scrap “experience requirements” for entry-level jobs.  The ANCYL furthermore wants young people to be members of the provincial legislature and the National Assembly and for youth-owned businesses to benefit from government departments to improve job creation.  These were some of the resolutions taken by the organisation in the eThekwini region during its regional congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The thrust of the congress was the assessment of the league’s political approach to youth development and challenges facing young people, such as unemployment, drug abuse and violence against women and children.  The government has scrapped the experience requirement for persons applying for entry-level state jobs and the amended regulations will come into effect on 1 April.  ANCYL provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo said that “we are now going to take this approach to the private sector because we also want it to be implemented by the private sector.”

Read Bongani Mthethwa’s full original report in this regard at TimesLive


WORKPLACE CONDITIONS

Horseracing industry ordered by MPs to improve living conditions of grooms

TimesLive reports that the horseracing industry has been told by MPs to clean up its act when it comes to the living conditions of grooms employed at facilities in the sector.  Grooms are responsible for the welfare and maintenance of horses.  On Wednesday, parliament’s portfolio committee on labour met the management of horseracing and betting operator Phumelela Gaming and Leisure to discuss the working and living conditions of grooms.  This came after the committee conducted an oversight visit to the North Rand Training Centre at the Randjesfontein racecourse in Midrand in August.  There it discovered “appalling conditions at the hostels, where four or five men shared one small room, with gas stoves for cooking located outside their rooms.”  Phumelela’s representatives indicated that the grooms' hostel facilities were leased to racehorse trainers, who were the direct employers of the grooms and responsible for their wellbeing.  The committee told Phumelela and the grooms’ associations to work closely with racehorse trainers to resolve challenges in the sector, including compliance with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

Read the full original report in this regard at TimesLive. Read the Portfolio Committee’s press statement in this regard at Parliament News


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Minister's 'meddling' in SABC over retrenchments might be unlawful, says civil group

Fin24 reports that the Save Our SABC Coalition has warned newly appointed Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams that she might have acted unlawfully by "meddling" in the affairs of the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).  This came after the minister wrote a letter to the public broadcaster indicating that she could not support its plans to effect staff retrenchments.  Ndabeni-Abrahams’ letter, as well as visits she is said to have made to unions and staff, seemingly indicate that she is on the side of workers and wants to ensure jobs are protected before agreeing to a bailout for the financially-stressed broadcaster’s coffers.  Save Our SABC Coalition national coordinator Duduetsang Makuse noted that a high court ruling last year reaffirmed the independence of the SABC board from ministerial influence.  "We were calling all stakeholders to take a moment and back up.  There has been a breakdown of sorts between the broadcaster, the minister, Parliament and unions.  The minister should abide by the court ruling of 2017 and not be involved in the SABC board's affairs," said Makuse.  She added that Ndabeni-Abrahams’ oversight must be exercised through Parliament and observed that the minister’s decision to speak directly to the SABC unions and staff, while excluding management from the conversation, was potentially divisive and meddlesome.

Read Khulekani Magubane’s full original report in this regard at Fin24. Read too, Fourth SABC board member Lindile Tsedu resigns, at IOL News


BASIC EDUCATION

Teaching determined not to be an essential service, so teachers may strike

BusinessLive reports that the Essential Services Committee has determined that school managers and support staff are not essential services, effectively upholding their right to strike.  However, it has declared a small group of services provided at boarding schools, namely boarding house parents, sanatorium services and security, to be so in order to protect pupils in the event of industrial action.  The committee’s decision, handed down on 5 November, follows an investigation requested by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to limit teachers’ right to strike.  The DA sought to have a minimum service level declared for schools, in particular so that school principals and other senior managers were available during strikes to ensure that pupils were safe and secure.  The committee, which operates in terms of the LRA, said there was no basis in law to designate basic education as an essential service or to limit or prohibit the right of principals and deputy principals to strike.  Its decision was welcomed by the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), which said the DA’s submission was an attack on collective bargaining and labour peace.  The DA will apparently consider appealing against the decision or pursuing other avenues to try to improve the safeguards for learners when teachers go on strike.

Read Tamar Kahn’s full original report in this regard at BusinessLive


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

GEPF may expand foreign portfolio so as to diversify exposure

BL Premium reports that the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) is continuing to seek ways to diversify its returns in the wake of scandals surrounding Steinhoff, which has exposed the fund’s dependency on the local market.  Earlier in 2018 the fund signalled its intention to alter its strategic asset allocation, which mandates the way it invests its R1.8-trillion in assets.  The fund’s principal executive officer, Abel Sithole, said the fund had begun discussing proposed changes with the Treasury, given the effect this could have in supporting economic growth and development in the country.  Presenting the fund’s annual report on Wednesday, he said:  "We have not reached finality yet, but the conversation is about diversification more broadly.  One of the areas of diversification is looking at long-term investments in international sovereign debt, as well as corporate debt.”  As at the end of March 2018, the fund had exposure of only 5.5% to foreign investments.  Sithole commented:  "Diversifying is one of the most patriotic things we can do.  We need to diversify our exposure away from the economy, but we also need to diversify our exposure to certain asset classes [including] good, available projects in the nonlisted area of the economy.  Not in get-rich-quick schemes; it needs to be done correctly."

Read Warren Thompson’s full original report in this regard at BL Premium (paywall access only)

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • GEPF deflects impairments, portfolio up 8.3%, at Moneyweb
  • GEPF: Recovery from Steinhoff still possible, at Moneyweb
  • Press statement: Cosatu calls for the Steinhoff looters to be prosecuted for stealing and mismanaging workers retirement savings, at Cosatu News
  • Press statement: PSA outraged by GEPF write-offs of investment losses, at SA Labour News
  • Press statement: SAFTU disgusted at write-off of workers investments by the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), at Saftu News


DISCRIMINATION / RACISM

Jeff Radebe in court on Thursday for racial discrimination case brought by Solidarity

The Citizen reports that energy minister Jeff Radebe appeared before the Equality Court on Thursday in respect of a racial discrimination case brought by trade union Solidarity.  This related to Radebe time as justice minister when he refused to promote magistrate Martin Kroukamp to the post of senior magistrate at the Alberton Magistrate’s court.  According to the union, the minister “blatantly ignored” the Magistrates Commission’s recommendation in 2014 to promote Kroukamp to the senior position at the court, “believing that appointing Kroukamp would not promote transformation”.  Solidarity said the case was a typical example of the government’s “thoughtless” pursuit of transformation targets at the expense of merits.  It said Radebe’s actions deprived the public of “a competent and skilled magistrate because of his skin colour”.  The proceedings are due to continue.

Read Batandwa Malingo’s short original report at The Citizen


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Ex-lecturer appears in court for murder of UniZulu academic who uncovered fake PhD syndicate

News24 reports that a former lecturer at the University of Zululand (UniZulu) appeared in court on Tuesday for his alleged part in the murder of prominent academic Professor Gregory Kamwendo.  Solly Nkuna, 49, and suspected trigger man Oscar Mbhekiseni Mthiyane, 50, have been accused of premeditated murder and are due to return to the Empangeni Magistrate's Court on 12 December when their formal bail application will be heard.  It has been widely reported that Kamwendo was killed after allegedly uncovering a fraudulent PhD syndicate at the institution.  The university, however, denied this in a statement on Wednesday and said vital facts had been distorted.  UniZulu said it believed that Kamwendo could have been a victim of staff members who "continued undermining the leadership through mafia tendencies.  Hence his tragic assassination and untimely death.”  It urged that the case should be allowed to follow all due processes “without misrepresentations and fabrication of facts and justice must be done."  A police spokesperson did not reveal details of the case, but confirmed that the men appeared in court.  

Read Kaveel Singh’s full original report in this regard at News24

 


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