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, 12 December 2018.


Right to strike being weakened by unions through protracted strikes marked by unfettered violence and intimidation

BL PREMIUM writes that while SA trade unions have been crying foul over the workers’ right to strike being attacked by the bosses, they might have done a better job at undermining this fundamental constitutional right on their own.  The worsening levels of violence during industrial action have weakened the powers vested in the bargaining tool that is a strike, and lost unions the high moral ground that garnered them public and stakeholder sympathy in the past.  Although the problem of violent strikes has dogged the mining industry for decades — dozens of people could lose their lives during what are commonly prolonged strikes — the trend has spread to other sectors over the years, with casualties recorded during most prominent strikes.  The ongoing eight-week wage strike by Numsa in the plastics is said to be a case in point.  Employers have been turning to the courts to halt disruptive industrial action and have come out with victories that will change the game forever.  The introduction of the new strike laws, effected with the signing of amendments to the Labour Relations Act into law two weeks ago, will also put limitations on how strikes are conducted.  The popular sentiment is that the bosses and, more recently, the government are behind the attacks on the strike protections.  But, the reality is that the right to strike is on a slippery slope and workers, who may need to exercise it legitimately in future, will find new obstacles — not because of government legislation but due to their own failure to protect its sanctity through their rash actions.

Read Theto Mahlakoana’s full original article in this regard at BL Premium (paywall access only)

With unions under pressure to deliver, is the violent plastics strike a portend of strikes going forward?

Ciaran Ryan writes that the plastic converters industry strike by 33 000 workers, now in its ninth week, is turning out to be one of the most violent in years.  According to the National Employers Association of SA (Neasa), the cost of the strike in terms of damage to property and lost production exceeds R100 million.  Employers believe this may be a portend of strike action going forward as unions battle it out for a dwindling pool of members.  Unionised membership outside the public sector has slipped from 26% two decades ago to below 20%.  Meanwhile, with unemployment at 27%, unions are fighting to protect members whose jobs are most vulnerable to replacement by low-skilled entrants.  Neasa CEO Gerhard Papenfus believes the plastics strike shows how trade unions, fighting for relevance, will behave in the future.  In the plastics strike, one worker was murdered, several more hospitalised, three CEOs assaulted at their place of work, and one CEO died as a result of attacks on his factory.  Hundreds more non-striking workers were assaulted at their residences, houses were burned down and 17 factories vandalised, petrol bombed or looted.  Employers have blamed the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) for the mayhem, but the union has disavowed responsibility.  There has also been violence at Sibanye-Stillwater, where three people have died during a strike by 15,000 workers associated with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).  Dis-Chem has also been hit by strike action that turned violent in recent weeks.  The ongoing violence and breach of picketing rules by striking workers prompted the Labour Court to issue an unprecedented order barring picketing and protest action by Nupsaw last week.

Read this article in full at Moneyweb. Read Gerhard Papenfus of Neasa’s article at Neasa News

Numsa counters with charge of ‘psychological violence’ after plastics industry fingers union for strike violence

BusinessLive reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has turned the tables on employers in the strike-hit plastics sector, claiming they were responsible for “psychological violence” inflicted on workers.  Last week, employers in the sector blamed the union for incidents of violence, destruction to property and other damages incurred at firms in Ekurhuleni, where workers have been striking over wages for the past eight weeks.  Plastics Converters Association of SA CEO Johan Pieterse said last week that the strike was no longer about wages and conditions of work.  “We have settled the demands for wages and conditions of work; what we are not willing to settle for is to not pursue disciplinary action or charges for destruction of property and assault,” he indicated.  The association said it was determined to file a damages claim against Numsa because there was evidence that placed the union’s members at factories where petrol bombs were used to damage property and assault workers.  The association will also proceed with contempt of court charges following Numsa’s failure to adhere to a court interdict against the use of violence and intimidation.  But on Tuesday Numsa blamed employers for the prolonged strike, saying:  “By prolonging the strike from October 15 to date, the bosses have mercilessly guaranteed that our members starve over this period, as workers pay every day, for any time they are on strike.”

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


Slight rebound in growth in mining and manufacturing in fourth quarter belied by job losses

BusinessLive reports that as mining and manufacturing kicked off the fourth quarter with stronger-than-expected growth, data from Statistics SA showed that both sectors bled jobs in the third quarter.  Economists warned that the rebound in growth was insufficient to create enough jobs to reduce unemployment and poverty.  Statistics SA’s quarterly employment survey showed on Tuesday that the number of employed South Africans fell by 16,000 in the third quarter of 2018, with job losses of 7,000 in manufacturing and 2,000 in mining.  While the production figures released on the same day were upbeat and exceeded expectations, signalling that the economy remained strong at the start of the fourth quarter, the future of both sectors remained uncertain according to economists.  “The recession may technically have ended, but it does not feel that way for job seekers,” said NKC analyst Gerrit van Rooyen.  “Given recent rate hikes and depressed sentiment, we doubt that the economy will be able to maintain this momentum over the quarter as a whole,” said Capital Economics economist John Ashbourne.  This is still not a major boom and both sectors remain volatile, economist Mike Schüssler said.  “The job losses will continue,” he warned.  The mining sector in particular remains constrained by unprofitable mines and labour strikes

Read the report in this regard by Sunita Menon and Karl Gernetzky in full at BusinessLive

Sibanye-Stillwater condemns violent protest at its Beatrix gold operations

Mining Weekly reports that precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater on Tuesday said the situation at its Beatrix gold operations, in the Free State, were tense.  This was amid continuing violent actions by groups allegedly affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).  “In the early hours of December 11, various altercations between the South African Police Service and large groups of Amcu members resulted in a number of employees being injured,” the miner said in a statement.  Several employees were reportedly receiving medical treatment, with one person in a critical condition.  “The situation at Beatrix operations, in particular, remain tense, with striking workers continuing to intimidate nonstriking workers, causing damage to company property and restricting access to the company’s operating mine sites,” Sibanye stated.

See the original of this short report at Mining Weekly

People are the critical factor for mining, Mantashe stresses

Mining Weekly reports that Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe stressed on Wednesday that the key factor in the future of SA mining was the human element.  He was delivering the keynote address at a Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection function launching a book on the future of the country's mining industry.  "Mining is about people," affirmed Mantashe.  "When it is not about people, it collapses."  And the people included both the mineworkers and the members of the communities adjacent to the mines.  When considering whether mining would be a sunrise or a sunset industry, "we have to refer to its relations with people", Mantashe stated, adding that his own view was that the industry “has always failed to relate to people in a way that would make it a sunrise industry."  Growing demands from communities was one of three pressure points he identified as squeezing the local mining industry.  A second pressure point was the general attitude in the country towards mining.  "Mining is not a loved sector," Mantashe observed, drily.  The remaining pressure point was increasing environmental demands.  If these issues were not addressed, Mantashe stated, then mining in SA would be a sunset industry. If they were addressed, it would be a sunrise industry.

Read the full report in this regard at Mining Weekly


Consumer inflation ticked up slightly in November to 5.2%

BusinessLive reports that consumer inflation accelerated slightly to 5.2% in November from 5.1% in October due to higher food prices and a spike in the price of diesel.  Statistics SA reported on Wednesday that November’s consumer price index (CPI) came to 109.6, up from 104.2 in October 2017 and 109.4 points in October 2018.  Although inflation has remained well under the SA Reserve Bank’s 6% ceiling, the bank’s monetary policy committee has made it clear that it would prefer inflation around the 4.5% midpoint of the target range.  In November, there was a substantially lower fuel price increase relative to the previous month, with only diesel increasing.  Lower fuel price pressures should help bring inflation down in December.  The food component of CPI showed inflation of 2.8%.  Average fruit prices fell by 3.7% in November from the same month in 2017.  Vegetable prices, however, rose 7.7%.

Read Sunita Menon’s full report in this regard at BusinessLive


Moyane going back to ConCourt over Sars dismissal, challenges judge's 'abominable' remarks

Fin24 reports that axed SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane will again turn to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) and will appeal the North Gauteng High Court’s dismissal of his application to overturn his sacking.  His lawyer, Eric Mabuza, said on Wednesday the matter had gone “way beyond” requesting leave to appeal the scathing ruling by Judge Hans Fabricius.  On Tuesday, Judge Fabricius ruled that “the conduct of (Moyane) in these proceedings is particularly reprehensible.  It is vexatious and abusive”.  Moyane’s application was dismissed with costs.  “Some of his [Judge Fabricius's] findings will have a chilling effect … it’s not just about Moyane, imagine if courts had taken the same attitude in cases involving [former president Jacob Zuma],” Mabuza said.  He pointed out that several cases against Zuma would never have gone ahead if the courts had had the same “attitude” to litigants.  He also claimed that the judge punished Moyane for challenging President Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to remove him and commented that it was unnecessary for the judge to have called Moyane “reprehensible and abominable”.  Moyane has been waging a marathon legal battle to have his dismissal overturned.

Read Tehillah Niselow’s full report in this regard at Fin24. Read too, Stage set for new Sars boss, at IOL News


Ramaphosa calls for local government officials 'with their hands in our cookie jar' to be arrested

News24 reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the arrest of local government officials who "put personal greed ahead of the interest of our people".  He was addressing the SA Local Government Association's (Salga’s) national members’ assembly in Durban.  Ramaphosa said officials involved in corruption should be arrested like those who were recently arrested in KZN for their alleged involvement in political killings.  "This is encouraging.  The same should be done to people who have put personal greed ahead of the interest of our people.  We must deal with them so that they must become afraid to be arrested themselves.  They must know that if they do wrong things, they will be dealt with like we are dealing with the killers here in the province," said Ramaphosa.  He told delegates that communities did not want to see government officials "with their hands in our cookie jar" and added that communities “don’t want to see us misusing and wasting their resources.  They want to see us serving them with integrity, with dignity and without any form of corruption whatsoever."

Read Mxolisi Mngadi’s full report at News24

Five Sassa officials in KZN sentenced to jail time for social grant fraud of R750,000

TimesLive reports that the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) in KwaZulu-Natal has welcomed the sentencing of five of its officials to a total of 37 years behind bars for processing fraudulent social grants amounting to R750,000.  The five officials were convicted in the Ulundi Regional Court on Tuesday following a five-year investigation that started in 2013 after police received a tip-off about their scam.  The tip-off led to the arrest of officials employed by Sassa service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), which distributes social grants payments to beneficiaries.  The suspects included members of the public.  Four of the officials were each sentenced to eight years, while another was given five years.  The convicted officials were implicated in stealing enrollment equipment from Sassa’s Umbumbulu office, which they used to process fraudulent social grants in Ulundi.  They devised a scheme to enrol members of the public for social grants based on fraudulent applications.  The applicants then paid money to the officials for them to process their fraudulent applications and the officials gave them Sassa-branded cards to enable them to receive and draw social grants.

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

Sacked Limpopo mayors implicated in VBS scandal to be charged

SowetanLive reports that Limpopo ANC deputy chairperson Florence Radzilani jumped before she could be pushed by resigning as the mayor of the Vhembe district on Tuesday.  Radzilani was one of the seven mayors whom the party's provincial executive committee had decided to remove from their positions for investing millions of public funds in the collapsed VBS Mutual Bank.  But when the PEC's resolution was about to be communicated to Radzilani, she told secretary Soviet Lekganyane that she was resigning with immediate effect.  Radzilani will remain an ordinary councillor in the municipality with benefits for councillors.  Lekganyane indicated on Tuesday that the PEC had resolved to release seven mayors - those of Vhembe, Makhado, Collins Chabane, Fetakgomo-Tubatse, Lepelle-Nkumpi, Ephraim Mogale and Greater Giyani.  Ephraim Mogale mayor Bela Kupa confirmed on Tuesday that she had also resigned.  Limpopo premier Chupu Mathabatha advised that a forensic report recommended that disciplinary action be considered against municipal managers.  "All municipal [managers] and politicians acknowledged knowing the financial management act but failed to follow it," he pointed out.  The premier indicated that they would be laying criminal charges and civil claims against those involved in the investments.

Read Peter Ramothwala’s full report in this regard at SowetanLive. Read too, Five of 12 municipalities who invested in VBS recovered funds, says Limpopo ANC, at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Seven traffic cops arrested in Cape Town over licence test bribes, at EWN
  • Four senior Free State officials in court for allegedly defrauding Maluti-a-Phofung municipality, at News24


SAPS investigating MyCiTi bus attacks separately

EWN reports that police have said that each MyCiTi bus attack is being investigated as a separate incident and that no link has been determined.  This was indicated as yet another bus was torched in Woodstock in Cape Town on Monday evening.  Two people were seriously injured.  Last month, MyCiTi buses were also torched in Khayelitsha and Milnerton.  In October, a MyCiTi bus was in stoned in the Kuyasa area.  Last week, a bus was attacked in Mitchells Plain.  The cost of the damage amounts to more than R18 million.  The City of Cape Town said that, where possible, buses were being escorted by law enforcement officials.

Read Kevin Brandt’s short report at EWN


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page