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, 14 December 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY (OHS)

Atteridgeville police officer killed at roadblock on Saturday by drunken driver

News24 reports that a police officer was killed after an alleged drunken driver failed to stop at a road block and drove into the police officer.  Police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said that police officers from Atteridgeville police station were conducting a road block on the R511 and R512 on Saturday when the speeding vehicle failed to stop.  Peters indicated:  "A female Constable was knocked down and succumbed to her injuries.  The member was declared dead on the scene.  A male suspect, who was allegedly intoxicated at the time, was arrested for culpable homicide and for driving under the influence of alcohol."  In an unrelated incident also on Saturday, a 38-year-old Warrant Officer stationed at National Head Office was declared dead on scene after being involved in an accident on the R21 near Olifantsfontein.

Read Alex Mitchley’s short report on this story at News24. Read a SAPS press statement in this regard at SAPS News

SACP slams intimidation, threats against journalists

News24 reports that the SA Communist Party (SACP) on Saturday slammed recent incidents of journalists being threatened, declaring these a sign of prejudice in South Africa.  The party said in a statement:  "The South African Communist Party unequivocally condemns intimidation, trolling or online harassment of journalists.  The list of the media practitioners who have recently been isolated, intimidated and/or threatened, exposes the nasty fight back … as also racist, chauvinist and sexist."  The SACP noted that, among other social media forums, Facebook and Twitter had already seen a rise in threats and incitement made against journalists – particularly in the wake of the state capture commission.  It listed those who had experienced intimidation as including Talk Radio 702 host and eNCA analyst Karima Brown, Daily Maverick investigative reporter Pauli van Wyk, Tiso Blackstar's associate editor Ranjeni Munusamy and News24 Editor-in-Chief Adriaan Basson.  Last month, the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) vowed to take steps following attacks on journalists by EFF leader Julius Malema and other party members who identified specific journalists whom he accused of protecting Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Read the full report on this story at News24. Read the SACP’s press statement at SACP News.   Read too, News24 editor-in-chief lays charges against EFF supporter after death threat, at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Burnout and stress lead more companies globally to try a four-day work week, at BusinessLive


MINING LABOUR

Amcu to remain on strike over wages at Sibanye-Stillwater

Reuters reports that Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), said on Friday that the union's members at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations would remain on strike.  He disputed the producer’s argument that the action was now illegal and was speaking at a media conference organised to respond to Sibanye's decision to extend a wage agreement in place with a number of other unions to Amcu members - a move it said meant the Amcu strike was no longer protected.  Mathunjwa claimed the union had seen no documentation and stated:  "As far as we are concerned, we are still on strike.  We... advise our members not to report to work on Saturday as they are still in a protected strike until their demands have been met by the employer."  A Sibanye spokesman affirmed that the strike was now unprotected and that employees who did not turn up to work would be subject to internal disciplinary procedures.  Amcu, which represents around 43% of Sibanye's gold workforce in SA, called the strike in mid-November, after discussions over the wage agreement with Sibanye broke down.  It wants to secure what it describes as a living wage for its members, of R12 500 per month.

Read the short original report in this regard at Mining Weekly

Amcu questions agreement between NUM and Sibanye-Stillwater

EWN reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has questioned the agreement signed between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Sibanye-Stillwater, which comes as the company seeks to end a strike by Amcu members at its local gold operations.  The union said it had been made aware of an agreement signed between the NUM and the company, adding however that workers belonging to the majority union were from Amcu and they remained on strike.  Amcu urged other unions to not be used by the company in what it said was its attempts to divide them.  Amcu workers have been on strike over wages since November.  The union’s President Joseph Mathunjwa said:  “Because this is what these people are doing, they are pinning the working class against each other and at the end of the day, they want to blame Amcu for the violence.  Our members will continue with the strike as long as we haven’t received any fresh mandate from them. A luta continua.”

Read Katleho Sekhotho’s short report in this regard at EWN. Read too, Amcu scorns Sibanye-Stillwater gold pay deal, at SA Labour News

Sibanye offers cash advance to eligible mineworkers to mitigate impact of strike

ANA reports that amid an ongoing strike at its local gold operations, Sibanye-Stillwater said on Friday that it would be extending a special cash advance of up to 50% of basic pay to employees in the bargaining unit, if they required it.  The precious metals producer said it was doing this in a bid to mitigate the negative financial impact of the strike on its employees ahead of the Christmas holidays and January back-to-school periods.  The cash advance would be available to all category 4-8 employees, miners, artisans and officials in the bargaining unit who were at work and who specifically requested to receive the cash advance before 4pm on Tuesday this week.  The advance would be repaid to the company over a five-month period via payroll deductions, from the end of February 2019.  Sibanye CE Neal Froneman said management had been concerned about the timing of the strike and the financial hardships that employees who have been on strike, or not at work, would suffer due to the "no work, no pay" principle, which was still applicable.  On Thursday, Sibanye indicated that the ongoing strike by workers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) was no longer protected as they were henceforth bound by the extension of the collective agreement with the other three unions.   Sibanye indicated that it expected the strikers to report back to work this past weekend.

Read Siphelele Dludla’s full report on this story at Business Report

Class-action silicosis settlement provisionally approved, but faces delays to allow for objections

BusinessLive reports that the Johannesburg High Court on Thursday provisionally approved the R5bn settlement reached between mining companies and workers suffering from silicosis and other occupational lung diseases.  However, before the settlement agreement can be made an order of court, interested parties have to be given an opportunity to object, or opt out.  The historic settlement was reached in May 2018 after three years of extensive negotiations between the workers and the companies — African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye-Stillwater.  Only once the court has issued an order to approve the settlement can a trust be established to pay eligible beneficiaries.  Richard Spoor, who represents the workers, said the process, while required in a class-action like this, meant the matter was likely to be drawn out for another six months before workers would see any compensation.

Read Lisa Steyn’s full report on this story at BusinessLive

Read too, High Court sets out process to action against silicosis, TB settlement agreement, at Mining Weekly

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Xolobeni community bans Mantashe for appealing right to say no to mining, at Mining Weekly


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Comair 'working around the clock' to resolve wage impasse with Numsa and avert strike

ANA reports that airline Comair said on Friday that it was working around the clock to find a speedy resolution to the wage dispute with the National Union of Metalworkers Union of SA (Numsa).  This came after Numsa announced that workers at Comair were preparing to go on strike from Thursday, 20 December 2018 over a 12% wage demand and other improvement to conditions of employment.  Comair operates and manages British Airways and kulula.com in South Africa and employs around 2,200 workers, among them 750 as airport staff.  Numsa is demanding a guaranteed 13th cheque, a travel allowance, a daily overtime allowance, a shift allowance of 15% of basic salary and additional shop stewards.  If the strike goes ahead, the public will be hugely inconvenienced during what is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year.  Comair stated:  "We remain committed to engaging with Numsa to reach a resolution in the best interests of all our stakeholders.  The CCMA has worked hard to secure a Commissioner to mediate this matter and have now confirmed the 20th of December 2018, as opposed to January 2019 for this mediation.”

Read Siphelele Dludla’s full report on this story at IOL News. Read too, Comair will go to mediation on Thursday in bid to avert Numsa strike, at TimesLive

Army doctors deal with KwaDukuza mortuary backlog as go-slow enters sixth week

Sunday Tribune reports that army doctors have been brought in to assist with autopsies following a stalemate between the KZN Department of Health and pathology staff as a mortuary go-slow entered its sixth week.  The army doctors arrived on Friday at the KwaDukuza district morgue and were working on at least 36 autopsy cases.  Mortuary staff have been on a go-slow since 9 November, demanding pay for overtime worked and better working conditions.  They claim the department owes 31 workers about R60-million in back pay and are refusing to settle, vowing a total shutdown.  KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo advised:  “We have dealt with the backlog, with the help of the army, policemen and healthcare workers and we can assure the public that there will no longer be delays in burying their loved ones.”  National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) spokesperson Phakama Ndunakazi said they were prepared to stage a national shutdown as they were not reaching a solution with the department.  Ndunakazi also noted that the department had resorted to criminalising workers:  “On Tuesday we have to go to court to attend a case because the department has resorted to arresting our workers - 23 are appearing in court.”

Read Kwandokuhle Njoli’s full report on this story at Sunday Tribune

KZN health workers step up calls to get MEC Dhlomo fired

The Witness reports that members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) intensified their calls on Thursday for Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo to be axed.  They held a demonstration at the department’s head office at Natalia, accusing Dhlomo of bringing the department to near collapse.  Before marching to Natalia, Nehawu members made a stop at the Pietermaritzburg police station, where they demanded an update on the criminal case they had opened against Dhlomo.  The case of inciting violence was opened after armed family members arrived at the Fort Napier mortuary and forcefully removed the body of a relative from the bodies that had been piling up at the mortuary since Nehawu members began their go-slow.  “We opened a case against Dhlomo, but they have not arrested him, yet they are quick to arrest workers who are protesting about poor working conditions.  Police are interfering in a labour dispute between employees and the department,” Nehawu regional secretary Zimasile Giyama stated.  Nehawu regional chairperson Sikhumbuzo Mdlalose, who is also Cosatu provincial chairperson, said Thursday’s demonstration at the Department of Health offices was a warning shot as they were preparing to go on strike early next year, when they would be calling for Dhlomo’s removal.

Read Sabelo Nsele’s full report on this story at News24


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

National minimum wage act bungle leaves workers exposed to employers wanting to dodge new law

BusinessLive reports that a numbering error in the National Minimum Wage Act has bungled a clause that protects workers from employers who intend to circumvent the new law.  According to the law, which kicks in on 1 January 2019, employers are not allowed to pay eligible workers less than R20 an hour.  However, the 1 May 2017 "retrospective" implementation of a section stating that it is an "unfair labour practice for an employer to unilaterally alter wages, hours of work or other conditions of employment in connection with the implementation of the national minimum wage", ended up being cross-referenced to the wrong clause in the act.  So, workers whose benefits or working conditions have been changed unilaterally in reaction to the new minimum wage law will have to wait until parliament fixes the error before they can take action against employers.  The mistake has been attributed to "human error".  Cosatu’s Matthew Parks said the blunder was a "massive crisis" that could put many workers at risk.  It left workers “exposed and vulnerable to employers who may have reduced their wages and benefits in the run-up to the national minimum wage," he said.  Parliament’s labour committee and the department of labour have said they were aware of the error and committed to fixing it in the new year when MPs returned from recess.

Read Theto Mahlakoana’s full report on this story at BusinessLive


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Saftu appalled at possible Edcon liquidation, which could see single biggest loss of jobs in SA history

ANA reports that according to the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), the crisis facing retail giant Edcon Holdings shows that the presidential Jobs Summit that was meant to cushion SA’s rising unemployment was a sham.  The union federation said in a statement on Sunday:  ''Saftu is appalled at the prospect of the imminent liquidation of Edcon, which could lead to the loss of 140,000 jobs, 40,000 employed directly and 100,000 indirectly.  It would be the single biggest loss of jobs in the country’s history, the country that already has the world’s sixth highest rate of unemployment could well move up to first place.  With the impact on all those dependent of the workers’ income, it would mean over a million more South Africans being plunged into deep poverty.  This collapse of Edcon reinforces Saftu’s view that the summit was a sham.''  Edcon Holdings owns Edgars, Jet and CNA.  A Sunday Times report on Sunday indicated that Edcon had sent out a letter to its 31 biggest landlords asking for a two-year 41% "rent holiday" in exchange for a 5% stake in the business in a bid to stave off liquidation and the loss of up to 140,000 jobs.  But Edcon CE Grant Pattison slammed the report as "irresponsible and sensationalist reporting", saying that the group was close to a deal to fix the business.

Read the original of the report on this story in full at Business Report. Read too, A deal is imminent, says Edcon CEO - refuting fears of business collapse, at TimesLive. Read Saftu’s press statement at Saftu News


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Moyane had no integrity, dismantled governance oversight role, Nugent finds

Sunday Independent reports that while retired judge Robert Nugent’s interim report was damning on axed SA Revenue Services (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane, he was even more merciless in the final version of his report into the affairs of the tax collection agency from April 2014 to March 2018.  This was the period during which Moyane was in charge.  Having recommended in his interim report that President Cyril Ramaphosa should fire Moyane, in his final report Nugent found nothing redeemable about the conduct of Moyane, who was appointed by former President Jacob Zuma, reportedly his friend.  Nugent said of the period under review:  “What has become clear is that what occurred at SARS was inevitable the moment Mr Moyane set foot in SARS.  He arrived without integrity and then dismantled the elements of governance one by one.”  Nugent went on to write:  “There are many elements to good governance.  Principally, in any organisation, it is the oversight role of senior management structures, that are able to put a brake on abuse of authority, but senior management was driven out or marginalised at SARS, and we have seen no evidence that senior management appointed by Mr Moyane was anything but compliant.”  Moyane was conspicuous by his absence before Nugent and appeared on one occasion only, “and then only to disparage and attempt to derail the inquiry”.

Read Don Makatile’s full report on this story at Sunday Independent

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Sars commissioner should be apolitical, says Nugent, at BusinessLive
  • No time wasted in search for new Sars boss as Kingon's term extended, at TimesLive
  • My axing was about corruption I uncovered at Prasa, claims Collins Letsoalo, at EWN


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO WORK

Prasa closes Pretoria’s Bosman Street station for 40 days for maintenance

News24Wire reports that the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) will be carrying out maintenance at Metrorail's Bosman station in Pretoria, completely closing it to the public for at least 40 days.  Gauteng Metrorail spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng that, in a necessary move, commuters would not be able to embark at the Bosman station.  She indicated:  "The benefits of a new modernised infrastructure will be a safer, faster, smoother and world-class train service with improved travelling times.  The work will involve the replacement of old signals, turnouts and points machines as part of Prasa’s modernisation programme."  All Johannesburg to Pretoria trains will turn around at Centurion station, where buses will ferry commuters to Bosman station.  Mofokeng said that tickets would only be sold to commuters travelling between listed stations.

Read this report in full at Engineering News

 


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