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 roundup of weekend news, see
summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related stories that appeared since
Friday, 7 December 2018.


TOP STORY – NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

National minimum wage to come into effect on 1 January 2019

BusinessLive reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that the national minimum wage (NMW) will come into effect from 1 January 2019.  It is expected to improve the wages of more than six-million workers currently earning below R20 an hour.  The president made the announcement at a proclamation ceremony held on Friday in Kliptown, Johannesburg.  Ramaphosa told attendees at the ceremony that the wage regime was a result of a lengthy and difficult process of formulating the legislation that involved “disagreements” and “strike threats”.  He also repeated sentiments that the R20 an hour rate was not the ideal living wage anticipated as “there was a need to create a balance” taking into consideration the employment levels in the country.  Zingiswa Losi, president of labour federation Cosatu, pleaded with employers to implement the NMW for those qualifying workers earning below the R20 an hour base line, while Business Unity SA (Busa) CEO Tanya Cohen said the system would stand the country in good stead with ratings agencies.

Read Theto Mahlakoana’s original report in this regard in full at BusinessLive


MINING LABOUR

Echoes of Marikana as Amcu’s wage strike at Sibanye-Stillwater drags on

Business Times reports on the wage strike by Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members at Sibanye-Stillwater’s SA gold operations, which commenced on 21 November 2018.  About 2,000 Amcu members gathered on Thursday afternoon on a hill overlooking Sibanye-Stillwater's operations in Driefontein as leaders updated them on the salary negotiations.  In a move echoing Marikana, strikers sat on the koppie armed with spears, sticks and sjamboks.  Amcu leaders explained to them that the union was not backing down from its demand for a monthly salary of R12,500.  "Mayibuye! Imali!" they chanted, adapting an anti-apartheid slogan from "Bring back Africa" to "Bring the money".  Sibanye’s James Wellsted indicated that in some operations, some staff were working and in others, because of intimidation, there was a lower turnout.  According to Sibanye, striking entry-level mineworkers have already lost on average R9,000.  Among Sibanye's gold-mining workforce, Amcu represents 43% of employees.  Sibanye struck a deal with three other unions, namely the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa, for a R700-a-month increase in the first and second years and R825 in the third year of a three-year wage deal.

Read Penelope Mashego and Mudiwa Gavaza’s full original report in this regard at BL Premium (paywall access only)

Outrage by creditors at proposal that Optimum Coal be sold for a pittance to unknown shelf company

Miningmx reports that Optimum Coal Mine’s creditors have objected to a proposed sale of the mine to an unknown entity, Halo Projects, which they claim is a shelf company.  They have asked the business rescue practitioners (BRPs) to postpone a meeting to approve the transaction.  In a letter to the BRPs, a representative for the creditors said Halo Projects appeared to be a front company, and that it was unlikely to win a mining licence from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) as a result.  Among the creditors’ complaints are that the sale agreement with Halo Projects does not set out payment details for Optimum Coal Mine and that it seems to give preference to certain creditors over others; for instance, service providers appointed to restart the mine will be paid before existing creditors.  Critically, the creditors say Optimum Coal Mine, which also includes Koornfontein mine and an allocation at Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), has been under-valued.  All in all, Halo Projects would pay R1 for the shares in Optimum Coal, and then a total of R600m over six months.  Creditors, who in terms of the business rescue process have the right to vote on the bidder selected by the BRPs, also complained that they have been given less than two days to approve the transaction, which they believed was insufficient time.

Read David McKay’s original report in this regard in full at Miningmx. Read too, Phakamisa “surprised” Optimum awarded to Aussie-backed Project Halo, at Miningmx

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • SA’s gold industry nears end of decades-long death spiral, at BusinessLive
  • Mantashe discusses mining’s lower GDP contribution with industry stakeholders, at Mining Weekly
  • Three court judgments that have changed the face of mining in SA, at Moneyweb


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Labour Court issues temporary ban on union pickets and protests in Dis-Chem strike

BusinessLive reports that the Labour Court in Johannesburg has made an unprecedented ruling barring Dis-Chem workers from picketing and protesting.  The court has ordered Dis-Chem employees affiliated to the National Union of Public Service & Allied Workers (Nupsaw) to stop wage demonstrations outside the retail pharmacy’s premises until 27 February.  The interim order comes just a few weeks after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed amendments to the Labour Relations Act, including provisions to mitigate prolonged and violent strikes.  The interim relief granted to Dis-Chem has not deterred Nupsaw.  Union spokesperson Thariza Steyn said the strike would continue:  “We are only prohibited to picket, protest, gather or assemble at any place to which the public has access outside Dis-Chem’s premises.  Our members are not going to be bullied by the employer.  They won’t go back to work and their strike is legal.”  The union also expressed the hope that the interim relief would be overturned when the parties meet again on 27 February.  The workers are demanding a minimum wage of R12,500 for all workers, an increase of 12.5% for those earning above that rate and a guaranteed annual bonus equal to their basic salaries.  Nupsaw is also at loggerheads with the company over its recognition agreement.

Read Theto Mahlakoana’s full original report in this regard at BusinessLive

Cape Town's MyCiTi bus service to get new workers as strike rages on

News24 reports that the City of Cape Town’s outsourced bus service contractors have moved to replace the MyCiTi workers who have been on an unprotected strike since October.  The City said that it had done all it could to address the protesters' concerns, and it was now time to move on.  Felicity Purchase stated that the City had been involved in facilitating a forum for the aggrieved parties to meet and resolve the impasse since "the wildcat" strike started on 15 October.  They have been demanding, among other things, to be employed by the municipality and better working conditions and better pay.  Some of the workers have returned to work following disciplinary hearings and written warnings, leaving those who failed to attend their hearings dismissed.  Purchase indicated that the Vehicle Operating Companies (VOC) and the station management contractor were currently in the process of recruiting new staff.  She also reported that Mayor Dan Plato had met with the protestors on Friday, and had reiterated that the City could not insource the employees who were employed by the VOCs and station management contractor to provide the MyCiTi service.

Read Pelane Phakgadi’s full original report in this regard at News24

KZN MEC does post-mortem at strike-hit mortuary to spare grieving Durban family

Sunday Tribune reports that KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo went the extra mile on Saturday so that the funeral of a Chatsworth mother and son could go ahead as planned.  With mortuary workers on a go-slow and bodies piling up at KZN’s provincial mortuaries because of delayed post-mortems, Kogie Reddy and her family feared more misery.  Nearly two weeks ago, her paraplegic mother and her brother were reported missing.  Her mother’s body was retrieved from Silverglen Nature Reserve dam on Monday and on Thursday, her brother’s badly decomposing body was found in nearby bushes.  “We were concerned that the funerals wouldn’t go ahead as we planned, until MEC Dhlomo intervened.  I take my hat off to him for what he has done for us,” said Reddy.  About the impasse over wage negotiations between his department and mortuary workers, that has rolled on for two weeks, Dhlomo said that they has asked the national health department to help and went on to state:  “Early next week we will make an announcement about other departments assisting us.  We hope the workers will realise some of their demands are beyond our control.”

Read Mervyn Naidoo’s original report in this regard in full at Sunday Tribune

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • KZN strikers barricade mortuary, say 'Come arrest us', at News24


PROTESTS / MARCHES / CAMPAIGNS

Nehawu members block the N3 on Thursday, call for two KZN MECs to be axed

The Witness reports that members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) went on a rampage on Thursday as they called for two KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) MECs to be fired.  To make their point, they went as far as blocking the N3 near the Hilton off-ramp, using about 20 cars and bringing traffic to a standstill.  After police dispersed them, they went on to cause more traffic jams on the highway as they drove slowly for about five kilometres.  Nehawu members want Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo and Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Themba Mthembu to be axed.  They have accused the two MECs of failing to lead the two departments.  More than 100 Nehawu members demonstrated at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development head office in Cedara on Thursday, where they blocked the gate.  Police fired stun grenades trying to disperse the crowd, but the demonstration continued.  The protestors later went to Fort Napier, where mortuary workers have been striking for weeks protesting about working conditions.  They then went to protest outside Natalia building, the Department of Health’s head office.  Nehawu provincial secretary Phakama Ndunakazi said:  “Today is just a warning shot.  We are going to have a full blown strike.”

Read Sabelo Nsele’s original report in this regard in full at News24

REMUNERATION / SALARY INCREASES


No pay rise for cabinet ministers and others, as Ramaphosa rejects blanket 4% recommendation

BusinessLive reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet will not see a salary increase after he rejected a recommendation that there should be a 4% increase in respect of all public office bearers.  Increases will also not apply to deputy ministers and premiers.  A 4% increase for public office bearers had been recommended by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.  Ramaphosa’s spokesperson‚ Khusela Diko‚ said in a statement:  “President Ramaphosa’s decision not to follow the commission’s recommendations is informed by the imperative that the state be considerate‚ responsive and demonstrate restraint‚ especially during periods of economic hardship‚ when determining the level of salary increases for public representatives.”  All judges will see their paychecks increase by 2.5% from 1 April 2018, while magistrates will get 4%.  “With regard to members of parliament‚ a 2.5% increase will apply to categories ranging from house chairperson‚ chief whip: majority party‚ leader of the opposition and whips‚ to members of the National Assembly and permanent delegates to the National Council of Provinces‚” Diko said.  The Speaker of the National Assembly and speakers of provincial legislatures will not get an increase.  Members of provincial legislatures, kings and queens will get an increase of 2.5 %.  Senior traditional leaders and headmen and women will receive a 4% salary increase.

Read Qaanitah Hunter and Neo Goba’s full original report in this regard at BusinessLive


NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE / MEDICAL SCHEMES

Cosatu angered by latest delay with NHI Bill

BusinessLive reports that the slow pace at which the government is moving on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill has drawn the ire of labour federation Cosatu.  It plans to raise the issue at Monday’s meeting with its alliance partners, the ANC and the SACP.  “We are clear it should dominate the meeting,” said Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla.  NHI, which was formally approved by the ANC at its 2009 policy conference in Polokwane, was supposed to have been fully implemented within 14 years of the publication of the NHI Green Paper in 2011.  However, it has been plagued by a series of delays, and last week the cabinet failed to give the green light to the controversial bill.  The bill is the first piece of enabling legislation for extensive health reforms aimed at realising the ANC-led government’s ambition of providing universal health coverage.  One of the most fiercely contested aspects of the bill is the role of medical schemes, which Cosatu wants to see sharply reduced.

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


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Twelve KZN and Limpopo licensing department officials to appear in court on Monday for fraud

ANA reports that twelve officials arrested in a pre-festive season anti-corruption crackdown on fraud related to vehicle and drivers licenses were due to appear in court in two provinces for bail applications on Monday.  This was after spending the weekend in police cells, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) said.  The suspects were arrested in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Limpopo on Friday on allegations of fraud and contraventions of the National Road Traffic Act.  Seven of the suspects were from Limpopo and five from KZN, RTMC spokesman Simon Zwane said on Sunday.  The arrests followed raids conducted at private testing stations and a learner's licence testing authority.  Allegations against the Limpopo suspects, who include examiners of vehicles and data capture staff, are that they issued vehicle roadworthy certificates fraudulently for vehicles they had never physically inspected.  The five suspects arrested in KZN include four examiners of learner licenses employed in Underberg and a manager formerly employed at another learner licence centre in Howick.  It is alleged that the suspects participated in fraudulent activities by unlawfully and irregularly assisting applicants to pass their learner's licence tests.

Read the full original report in this regard at IOL News


SEXUAL HARASSMENT / ABUSE

SABC suspends 'sex-for-jobs' pests identified in commission of inquiry report

News24 reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has suspended alleged perpetrators who were identified in the report of its commission of inquiry into sexual harassment.  Those implicated include alleged "sex-for-jobs" perpetrators.  They have been served with requisite notices to afford them an opportunity to make written submissions as to why they believe the preliminary suspensions should not be made final.  Some of those implicated are managers at the public broadcaster.  The commission's report also identified additional employees who might have been complicit by either aiding or abetting sexual harassment, through their acts of omission or commission.  "The SABC is in the process of formulating charges (against those complicit) in line with HR policies and legislation," the broadcaster's spokesperson Neo Momodu said.  The commission also found that the SABC was complicit in some cases, accusing the broadcaster of being oblivious to infringements of its sexual harassment policies.  It is presently unclear how many alleged perpetrators have been suspended, and which positions of management some of them hold.

Read Pelane Phakgadi’s original report in this regard in full at News24

Bosses at Lotus FM suspended as more women start to speak out about sexual harassment

City Press writes that the culture of toxic masculinity that has infected Lotus FM over the past two decades is finally being exposed and dealt with.  At noon on Friday, Alvin Pillay, station manager at Lotus FM, left his office at the SA Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC’s) Durban headquarters.  He was not carrying his laptop bag as usual.  Apparently, he was one of almost a dozen men suspended last week and asked to hand in their SABC property, including security access cards.  This followed letters served earlier in the week inviting the men to respond as to why they should not be suspended.  The embattled radio station was at the centre of investigations by a commission of inquiry into sexual harassment at the SABC.  The allegations ranged from sex-for-jobs claims to a manager wanting a woman staffer to touch his erect penis and a historic case of violent assault.  Many of the Lotus FM complainants lost their jobs or resigned shortly afterwards, and the SABC has publicly acknowledged that management failed the women.  But more women at Lotus came forward last week, even as the public broadcaster prepared for disciplinary hearings.  On Friday, the SABC’s HR boss, Jonathan Thekiso, confirmed that the new cases were “being taken seriously and will be dealt with swiftly”.

Read Charl Blignaut’s original report in this regard in full at City Press

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Sexual harassment in workplace is seen differently by men, women, at Moneyweb
  • Marius Fransman's alleged sexual assault victim hails prosecution ruling, at Cape Times


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO WORK

SA’s 'dysfunctional' commuter rail system root of many transport problems

Engineering News reports that speaking at a Transport Forum event in Pretoria last week, Professor Stephan Krygsman of Stellenbosch University’s Department of Logistics (Transport Economics) said SA had a “completely dysfunctional" passenger rail system.  He added:  “The fact that we cannot get a rail system working in this country is probably our biggest [transport] problem.  If we can solve that, we can solve a lot of problems.”  Economist Mike Schűssler noted that 55-million people used the train system a month in SA in 2009, but, even with the addition of the Gautrain in 2010, this had now dropped to 20-million people a month.  He said there were various reasons for this, including crime and arson.  Buses have picked up around two- to three-million of the passengers who have departed the rail system.  The options available to the rest of the commuters included walking, cycling, taking a minibus taxi or buying a car – adding to congestion on the road.  Krygsman pointed out that the poor were carrying the burden for the failure of the rail system:  “Poor people use [Metro]rail.  They spend a certain amount of their income to get to work.  If they get bumped to the next mode, they spent an even more excessive amount of their income on transport.”

Read the full original report in this regard at Engineering News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Why Uber has no plans to compete with minibus taxis, at Fin24
  • Prasa ordered to pay up after commuter pushed out of train, at News24
  • Pretoria-Joburg trip could take six hours, unless we get high-occupancy lanes, at BusinessLive


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES

  • Over 160 illegal immigrants arrested at Limpopo border during police operations, at News24
  • Tiger Brands reopens Polokwane polony factory, at BusinessLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page