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, 10 December 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Slain UniZulu professor testified against lecturer accused of being his murderer in CCMA case

Mail & Guardian reports that the murder of University of Zululand (UniZulu) professor Gregory Kamwendo was at first thought to be due to his uncovering of a syndicate at the institution issuing fraudulent PhD degrees.  However, this might have played only a small part in his murder.  Kamwendo was gunned down outside his home in Empangeni in May this year.  Two sources close to the investigation have revealed that his murder was a planned hit and alleged that it was organised by Zweli Nkuna, a former lecturer at the university, whose long-running strife with the professor went back to 2015.  On Monday, Nkuna and Oscar Mthiyane, a taxi owner, appeared in the Empangeni Magistrate’s Court on charges of murder.  The strife between Nkuna and Kamwendo apparently started when a student laid a complaint of assault against Nkuna.  The university conducted an investigation that found Nkuna guilty.  In May 2016, Nkuna approached the CCMA.  Kamwendo testified against Nkuna, saying the behaviour of Nkuna was unbecoming of a lecturer.  The CCMA found in Nkuna’s favour and ordered that he be reinstated and be paid backpay of more than R160,000.  The university then filed papers to appeal the CCMA case.  Prior to the appeal, Kamwendo filed an affidavit claiming that Nkuna had threatened his life.  “He [Nkuna] was not happy at all that Kamwendo testified.  He was so angry he went to find inkabi (an assassin) to take care of him,” claimed one source.  The inkabi is still being sought.

Read Athandiwe Saba’s original report in this regard in full at Mail & Guardian

N3 mobile clinic assists truck drivers who spend strenuous and dangerous hours on the road

The Star writes that truck drivers spend long strenuous hours on the road to the detriment of their health, which could account for the high accident numbers they are involved in.  For this reason, the N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) has a mobile clinic at the Mooi River toll plaza.  In about 15 minutes, truck drivers can have their cholesterol, blood pressure and eyes tested free of charge by nurses at the clinic.  From January to October, there were 501 heavy vehicle crashes on the N3, which amounted to 50.2% of all crashes and was up from 44.8% from last year.  The 501 crashes resulted in 45 deaths this year.  For drivers like Thulasizwe Maseko, the health check-ups on the side of the busy highway are important as he never has time to visit a doctor.  "I drive every day and only rest on Saturday.  There is so much pressure to get to deliver goods quickly, and that is bad for our health,” he pointed out.  One of the nurses, Innocentia Mabunda, indicated that one of the most common health issues for truck drivers was obesity, which led to conditions such as cholesterol and hypertension.  "Once tested, we teach them how to eat more healthily even though they are always on the road,” she noted.  Drivers found to have serious medical conditions were sent to the nearest clinic.

Read Tebogo Monama’s original report in this regard in full at The Star


MINING LABOUR

Ex-Aurora mines headed for liquidation, again

Mail & Guardian reports that the Aurora gold mines, looted by former president Jacob Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma and his partners, are heading for liquidation again.  This is because of a falling-out between the South African and Chinese partners in the consortium that bought Aurora in 2012.  Lawyers for BEK Holdings, which owns 26% of China African Precious Metals (CAPM), have applied to the High Court in Johannesburg for liquidation after a “breakdown” in relations with its Chinese partner, Golden Haven, which owns 74% of CAPM.  The move by BEK owner Elias Khumalo, a close associate of Jacob Zuma, comes after mediation by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) failed.  CAPM employs about 460 workers at its Orkney gold mine, which went back into production after it was rehabilitated by CAPM.  It is not clear whether they have been paid or not.  CAPM’s bank accounts have been suspended as a result of the liquidation application.  More than 5,000 workers at the Orkney and Grootvlei gold mines lost their jobs after the mines were stripped of gold and assets while under the control of Aurora Empowerment Systems.  The Pamodzi mines were placed under Aurora’s control during a 2009 liquidation process.  Aurora directors were found to be personally responsible for stripping the mines’ assets by the Pretoria High Court in 2015.

Read Paddy Harper’s original report in this regard in full at Mail & Guardian


DISPUTES

Printing of driving licence cards to resume after employees’ dispute referred to bargaining council

The Star reports that following thousands of complaints by motorists being unable to get new driving licence cards, the Department of Transport has finally admitted to the problem.  It has advised that employees have agreed to resume their duties pending the finalisation of a dispute at the bargaining council.  In October, the department rejected media reports that no driving licence cards had been produced from 1 August, and that there was a backlog of 450,000 cards.  It further said at that time that it expected to complete the production of the July backlog by the middle of October.  The department now confirmed that there was still a backlog of 90,000 cards that have not been printed for motorists who applied in July and August.  “These orders have been prioritised to be printed in the next three weeks.  We are pleased to inform drivers that the affected employees have agreed to resume their duties pending the finalisation of the dispute,” transport spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said.  As an interim measure, the department advised motorists to apply for a temporary driving licence card, which has a validity period of six months.

Read Anna Cox’s original report in this regard in full at The Star


JOB CREATION

Government Integrated Resource Plan blocking jobs for thousands in Northern Cape

Business Report writes that close to 2,000 construction jobs, over a period of five to 10 years, could be created for communities in the Northern Cape should the wholly black-owned firm Emvelo proceed to the next five planned stages of its 1,000 megawatt solar power station project.  However, standing in the way of this is the government's new draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which does not envisage any further Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) deployment until 2030, said Emvelo's founder Pancho Ndebele.  This was indicated shortly after the group's recent completion of its R11billion solar power station, situated 30km east of Upington, which is now contributing to Eskom's massively constrained power grid.  Ndebele said at the peak of construction during the first project about 1,800 jobs were created for the communities in the Northern Cape.  “If you look at that environment, most of the people have low skills, but we were able to bring people up to a certain skill level during construction.  So effectively, if you were to continue with the second or third project you are actually retaining work opportunities for people in those communities, so that it doesn't stop but continues,” Ndebele pointed out.  He said from a construction point of view between 1,500 and 2,000 jobs could be created and in terms of permanent jobs for the running of each solar power plant, around 80 to 100 jobs could be created.

Read Joseph Booysen’s original report in the regard in full at Business Report


RECRUITMENT / STAFFING / VACANCIES

Over 5,300 health department posts across all provinces to be filled in massive recruitment drive

ANA reports that Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Sunday announced that more than 5,300 health worker posts – clinical professionals and support staff needed throughout the country – were to be filled.  He made the announcement on behalf of the National Health Council, which met on Thursday and Friday.  Motsoaledi stated:  “The council met to, among others, finalise and operationalise the presidential stimulus package as announced by the President [Cyril Ramaphosa].  This announcement, which will result in the filling of more than 5,300 posts in the health departments of the nine provinces from the beginning of January 2019, in addition to being a product of the presidential stimulus package, is also the implementation of the recommendations of the presidential health summit held a few weeks ago.”  Motsoaledi said shortages in human resources were acute, due to severe budget constraints over the past three years.  The appointment of health workers will include a broad spectrum of health professionals.  The report gives a breakdown by province of the posts to be filled.

Read the original report in this regard in full at The Citizen


REMUNERATION / SALARY INCREASES

Ramaphosa’s salary freeze for senior office bearers shows he’s serious about reducing public spending

The Citizen writes that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s freeze on the salaries of executive, parliamentary and provincial office-bearer is a welcome announcement.  But leading economist Dawie Roodt commented that it would take a lot more than “symbolic gestures” to improve things – including cutting his Cabinet by 75% and senior government managers and CEOs of parastatals by half.  The total value of salaries earned by Cabinet members and other political office-bearers was not going to make a difference in terms of finances, Roodt argued, adding that:  “You have to cut where it matters the most, from senior and middle-management levels.  There is a huge number of civil servants, especially the middle managers and that fat needs to be cut.”  Well-known economist Mike Schűssler said Ramaphosa’s announcement was a “powerful political statement” that would send good signals that the government was serious about stopping public waste.  Trade union federations Cosatu and Saftu commended Ramaphosa.  “We are happy the president has risen to the occasion.  It should not make sense to reward people who are already well paid when the workers and their families suffer due to low wages,” Cosatu’s Sizwe Pamla said.  This was echoed by Saftu’s Zwelinzima Vavi, who said it was commendable the president made the gesture when he and his executive earned far less than the CEOs of SOEs.

Read Eric Naki’s original report in this regard in full at The Citizen


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Dawn cut 700 employees in six months to September

Business Report writes that the financially troubled Distribution and Warehousing Network (Dawn) retrenched and terminated the employment of more than 700 employees and labour-broker staff across the group in the six months to September.  The listed manufacturer and distributor of plumbing and hardware brands, which last week received a firm offer which, if successful, would lead to its delisting from the JSE, said on Friday that the largest portion of the terminations was based on operational requirements.  In November last year, Dawn reported that it had retrenched about 1,300 people in the previous two years, and in that month had handed retrenchment notices to a further 143 people in its Wholesale Housing Supplies (WHS) business.  CE Edwin Hewitt said the group's management and board had decided to close DPI, the group's pipe-manufacturing business, while WHS, its main sanitaryware and hardware trading and distribution business, was restructured further.  He said “crippling strike action” in the plastics industry, which to date had lasted seven weeks, had placed severe strain on the business and the group.  Hewitt also said Dawn continued to face liquidity constraints and, unless there was a material turnaround in the company in the near future, “it faces a looming solvency risk”.

Read Roy Cokayne’s original report in this regard in full at Business Report


SABC CHAOS

Bemawu blames government for parlous state of SABC

EWN reports that the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu) says that, while it understands the decision by four SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board members to resign, this had left the organisation in a difficult position.  Last week, Krish Naidoo, Khanyisile Kweyama, John Mattison and Mathatha Tsedu all had their resignations accepted by President Cyril Ramaphosa.  The public broadcaster has been battling financially with concerns that it might soon not be able to pay salaries.  The four resignations came as the parliamentary portfolio committee was seeking to fill four other vacancies, so the broadcaster now has eight vacancies at board level, leaving it without a decision-making body.  Bemawu's Hannes du Buisson said the government was to blame for the state of the public broadcaster and it needed to urgently intervene.  He said this development only deepened the problems at the broadcaster and was going to put the organisation “in a very difficult position in terms of oversight from the board level.”

Read the short original report in this regard by Michael Pedro at EWN. Read too, SABC meltdown all too familiar, at Mail & Guardian. And also, ‘No link’ between tender and SABC board resignations, at City Press

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Ex-SABC board members' shock at being probed over alleged illegal tender, at The Star
  • SABC needs to be saved with a bailout, says Malema, at SowetanLive


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Crunch time for ex-Sars boss Tom Moyane as judgment expected on Tuesday

BusinessLive reports that the Pretoria High Court is expected to hand down judgment on Tuesday in axed SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane's bid to get his job back.  Moyane approached the court to have his axing overturned and to prevent the Sars commission of inquiry chaired by retired judge Robert Nugent from submitting a final report on its work to President Cyril Ramaphosa.  Nugent, in an interim report, said it was critical to appoint a new permanent Sars commissioner in order to implement a long-term turn-around strategy in the critical institution.  But, Moyane wants the court to block Ramaphosa from appointing a permanent Sars commissioner.  A judgment in Moyane's favour would mean that he would return to his post but remain on suspension with full pay, pending the outcome of another court challenge to the Nugent inquiry and the disciplinary process against him running concurrently.  It is unclear whether a loss in the high court would deter Moyane, who has been doggedly fighting the processes intended to turn around the critical institution.  While his contract concludes in September 2019, he might yet move to appeal against a judgment that swings against him.

Read Natasha Marrian’s original report in in this regard in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Job Mokgoro sacks four North West MECs, at The Citizen


SEXUAL HARASSMENT / ABUSE

NPA to prosecute Marius Fransman over alleged sexual harassment of personal assistant

Mail & Guardian reports that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced over the weekend that it would be prosecuting former Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman for alleged sexual assault.  Fransman is accused of sexually harassing Louisa Wynand in 2016 during a trip to Rustenburg.  Wynand was his personal assistant at the time during the ANC’s 104th birthday.  Wynand opened a case of sexual assault with the Sun City police in 2016.  In a statement on Saturday, Fransman said he would be engaging his lawyers “to better understand the decision of the director of public prosecutions in Kimberley.”  He went on to indicate:  “The full details of the charge are unclear‚ considering the decision of the authorities in the North West Province two years ago not to prosecute.”  The NPA’s Northern Cape spokesperson, Phaladi Shuping, said that a court date had not been set “because the prosecution is still working on the process of centralisation, for all the charges to be prosecuted in Kimberley.”

Read Gemma Ritchie’s original report in this regard in full at Mail & Guardian

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Former Soweto scholar patrol guard faces judgment in sex abuse case, at EWN


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO WORK

Transnet goods train derails on Monday, blocks major commuter line in Cape Town

News24Wire reports that a Transnet goods train derailed between Tygerberg and Bellville railway stations in Cape Town on Monday, severely delaying commuter services.  The derailment occurred around 08:30.  The cause was not immediately apparent.  "Under current circumstances, delays could exceed 120 minutes," Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott indicated.  She added that until Transnet provided a prognosis on clearing the derailment site, Metrorail trains were being held in Parow and Bellville until further notice.  Northern commuters were advised to use the Monte Vista service.  Sonja Carstens, spokesperson for the United National Transport Union (Untu), said information about the derailment was sketchy, but preliminary reports indicated that no one had been injured.

Read the short original report at Engineering News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Uber launches 24/7 call centre ahead of festive season, at Fin24


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES

  • Labour law redefines parenthood with parental leave, at Mail & Guardian
  • Deputy Military Ombud sworn in as Matanzima plans exit, at The Citizen

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page